Though it had been panned by critics for its tone-deaf depiction of race in America, the film swept the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali's portrayal of celebrated pianist Don Shirley.
It was in Farrelly's thank you speech for Best Original Screenplay, however, that left many – especially Detroiters – confused.
In the speech, Farrelly thanked a laundry list of supporters before concluding with "and Shinola watches – unbelievable, they're saving Detroit!"
Sure, Shinola has had a sizeable imprint on Detroit since the brand launched in 2011. The luxury goods retailer can boast its contribution to Detroit manufacturing jobs, the opening of a retail location in Cass Corridor, and most recently transforming a block of Woodward Avenue into the newly minted Shinola Hotel and its adjacent retailers and restaurants.
However, Shinola's roots as an authentic Detroit brand is something that has been highly contested as elaborate "marketing theater." In 2017, University of Michigan professor Rebekah Modrak analyzed how the company used Detroit and racial tropes like the "white savior" in its marketing for her project Rethink Shinola.
Following the acceptance speech, Twitter reacted to the notion that Shinola is Detroit's savior, including opinions from residents, artists, and politicians.
Say what? Please stop with this disrespectful & hurtful narrative that we 1) need saving & 2) that billionaires are the ones to do it.— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 25, 2019
We just need the 1% to stop taking our land for nothing + shifting our tax dollars towards for-profit development that makes them richer. https://t.co/6pWYVCutI1
just got held up at gunpoint but luckily a shinola-watch had been vigilantly patrolling the area, arriving promptly, quickly dispatching my would-be assailants. these watches are truly saving detroit, one citizen at a time.— Illingsworth (@illingsworth) February 25, 2019
what WOULDA helped is investing in all the BLACK OWNED and detroit based businesses on woodward that have all gone bankrupt in the past 10 years, investing in schools, more affordable housing, more jobs, but these mfs would rather say they “fixed detroit” by building shinola 💀— bridgid (@idiotgemini) February 25, 2019
@Shinola ain't saving a damn thing here! They are the epitome of what is wrong. Coming in and gentrifying our city at no benefit to us! DETROIT Citizens having to move out of their homes due to tax increases. You should've saved that damn movie. #GreenBook #Oscars #PeterFarrelly— Portia D (@PortiaD21) February 25, 2019
That ridiculous remark by the ‘Green Book’ director about how Shinola is “saving Detroit” proves again how problematic that movie was about race in America. The people who made that movie are clueless.— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) February 25, 2019
This morning Shinola released a statement distancing itself from Farelly's comments.
This isn't Farrelly's first plug for Shinola, however. In Farelly's 2014 film Dumb and Dumber To, a Shinola retail booth is a prominently featured product placement.
As for this Oscar shoutout, sponsorship analyists Joyce Julius & Associates estimate a hefty marketing kickback for Farrelly's Shinola comment.
The Shinola shout-out during last night’s Oscars ($867k exposure value during the ABC telecast) has generated about 160 news media references and 3,500 social media posts thus far pic.twitter.com/vCqUkqT9i5— Joyce Julius & Assoc (@Joyce_Julius) February 25, 2019
You can watch Peter Farrelly's full acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay below.
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