An advertisement for the new Fox television show “Red Band Society” was abruptly pulled from Los Angeles Metro buses Thursday after activists complained it was racist and offensive.
The ads for the series that premiered this week show actress Octavia Spencer next to the words “Scary Bitch.” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Marc Littman said the agency decided to remove the ad because that label “denigrates women.”
“That speaks for itself,” Littman said. “That was not acceptable.”
The ads, which have been up for five weeks, will be removed from 190 Metro buses as soon as possible, said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.
The announcement was made Thursday at a Metro committee meeting where a few dozen protesters showed up to speak against the ads. Among them was Jasmyne Cannick, who said the nickname perpetuates negative stereotypes about black women.
“I don’t know if I find it more offensive because I’m black, or more offensive because I’m a woman,” said Cannick, 36. “I sometimes think our city forgets that there are black people that still live here and call Los Angeles home.”
A Fox spokeswoman said in a statement that network executives were notified Thursday morning of the concerns around the ads and “immediately offered to remove the language.”
“Metro Los Angeles ultimately decided to take down the ads, and we respect that decision,” the spokeswoman said. “We sincerely apologize if the copy was offensive to viewers.”
Littman said though the decision was made public Thursday, Metro chief executive Art Leahy had chosen Wednesday to take down the ads after hearing about the complaints. Littman said CBS Outdoor, which handles the agency’s advertising contract, usually flags possibly questionable ads for review, but these were not flagged.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also serves on the Metro board, said at the Thursday meeting that he wanted the ads taken down, and that the agency needs to tighten its advertising policy. Garcetti requested that Metro staff report back to the board on ways to avoid a similar situation in the future, said Jeff Millman, Garcetti’s spokesman.
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