Jesse Williams Explains Controversial Nike-Inspired Promo For His New Emmett Till Movie
No. Nope. Nah.
Jesse Williams faced the wrath of Twitter after he posted a promo for the upcoming film TiLL and has since apologized for offending the community.
Williams directed a movie chronicling the aftermath of Emmett Till's brutal killing and the fight for justice his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, undertook following his murder. The film is Williams' directorial debut.
In a social media promo for the movie on Monday, Williams posted images of Till-Mobley which allude to the viral Colin Kaepernick Nike ad. The original ad references Kaep's police brutality protests, and features the tagline: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
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William's movie promos featured the same phrase, but where the Kaep ads feature the Nike slogan, the TiLL ads had the words "TiLL Coming Soon." The posts were hashtagged #TillTheMovie.
Reaction to the ads were swift and brutal, with many social media users calling the campaign in poor taste. Williams deleted the posts, but you can see screenshots of them below:
Many called the film's advertising insensitive and said Till-Mobley didn't choose to sacrifice her son in the name of making the words "all men are created equal" a reality, but that her sacrifice was forced upon her by racists murders.
Oh hey guys what did Jesse Williams d— pic.twitter.com/uwQtj8JWme— “...starring Jamie as Busty McShort.” (@thewayoftheid) September 24, 2018
Which side of you decided that picture was ok @iJesseWilliams?— Full Stop (@INeedja_Kadeeja) September 24, 2018
Jesse Williams posted that photo of Mamie Till with the Kaepernick quote like she made a choice to sacrifice her son to uh... murder.— Happenstance the Rapper (@BeezHunny) September 24, 2018
Let's think about things before we slap a meme over it.
Black Twitter on its way to Jesse Williams timeline pic.twitter.com/5gmCfTvexE— shane bernard 🇹🇹 (@shanejbernard) September 24, 2018
Many users wrote they felt Williams' ads reduced a mother's pain into a meme meant to sell movie tickets, and they found this utterly offensive:
Jesse Williams out here making memes outta Mamie Till crying at her son’s funeral. We gotta protect Emmett Till’s legacy at all costs.— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) September 24, 2018
Just saw a MEME OF MAMIE TILL AT HER SON’S CASKET WITH A FUCKING NIKE SLOGAN ACROSS HER TEAR STAINED FACE. I AM HORRIFIED.— Autumn Enchantress🍂 (@jennib3) September 24, 2018
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU @iJesseWilliams?!
delete it— vanessa taylor (@BaconTribe) September 24, 2018
After deleting the tweet, the actor/director replaced the image with a press release:
Now, the actor and philanthropist explained the decision behind his artistic choices and apologized to those who felt the ad was insensitive:
"I posted a few images as art in support of the announcement of my upcoming film TiLL, that provoked a strong reaction. While some clearly understood my intention and its connection Mamie's real life, many didn't. As much as I'd like to address what my intentions were and the meaning of those images, it's more important that I first acknowledge that I seem to have offended and possibly hurt some of the very people I aim to uplift."
Williams goes on to say that he would never categorize Till's gruesome murder as his mother's "sacrifice" and such an association wouldn't be rational or accurate.
"The images were designed to highlight the tremendous sacrifices Mamie made by sharing her unrelenting journey for justice -- including boldly sharing those iconic images from her son's funeral, which changed the world," he added.
The 37-year-old said he aimed to connect the past with the present by merging the two images.
"My heart is always with my people and this includes my artistic commitment to telling our stories. Always have, always will. And while I stand for creative expression, every swing ain't gonna be a homerun. (And ya'll know I swing a lot.) Those who are sincere in this work and concern, I thank you."
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