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Actor, creator express concerns about pulled state fair ads

Posted - Sep. 13, 2010 at 6:14 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The actor starring in the 2010 Utah State Fair ads is raising concerns about why the spots were pulled from television last week.

Markus T. Boddie says he doesn't believe the decision was racially motivated, but he can't say for sure.

"Hopefully that wasn't the initial reaction," Boddie told KSL Newsradio Monday. "I just think it was a misunderstanding of old ideas versus new ideas."

He isn't sure why the ads are still running on radio, though.

"That said to me, ‘Well, we don't want to see you but we can hear you,'" Boddie said.

Utah State Fair Board members have said the ads just "weren't right." Some said they were offensive. They featured Boddie serenading a pig and a funnel cake, both staples of the state fair.

Boddie says he was channeling his inner "Barry White."

"The spirit that we were trying to go for was the old ‘70s singers," Boddie said. "They were ultrasmooth, ultracool and they could say anything and make it sound good."

Boddie says the decision reinforces stereotypes about Utah, and people need to know that times have changed.

"There are black people here in Utah that aren't related to Gladys Knight," Boddie said. "If we embrace that, then I think that's the image of Utah we want to take forward."

Meanwhile, the creator of those commercials, Jared Hess, spoke out Monday on the Doug Wright Show.

"I found it a little bit unsettling and kind of suspect that they would pull the TV spots but leave the radio ads, which have the exact same content and lyrics. They're identical," said Hess, who is also the creator of the hit movie "Napoleon Dynamite."

The Utah State Fair Board decided to pull the TV ads when some board members felt they had "sexual undertones" and were "over the top." But Hess says he believes it was only because the actor is black.

"There are some kind of off-the-record grumblings that have (been) made known to me, and I'm pretty certain that that's the reason," Hess said.

The chairman of the State Fair Board denied that assertion last week.

In the meantime, the board has replaced Hess' edgy ads with a much calmer one showing a little girl grooming a cow.

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Story compiled with contributions from Andrew Adams and Cleon Wall.

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