"The secret to world peace is... pistachios," says Simpsons guest star/retired NBA player Dennis Rodman, in a new "Get Crackin'" ad for Wonderful Pistachios. He is then murdered by explosion by a Kim Jong Un lookalike. Next, the narrator declares, "Dennis Rodman does it because he's nuts."
North Korea is the worst place in the world to live. To put it generously, it's a human rights catastrophe ruled by a 31-year-old binge-drinking, roller-coaster riding, nuclear-armed Kobe Bryant fan. Torture, forced labor, gruesome execution, and starvation are widespread. Earlier this month, the regime was suspected of restarting a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor, which would constitute a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Rodman is an avowed sympathizer and admirer of the North Korean dictator, and has recently made controversial, faux-diplomatic trips to the country.
"Wonderful Pistachios is proud to be celebrating the fifth year of the Get Crackin' campaign," Marc Seguin, vice president of global sales and marketing at Paramount Farms (which makes Wonderful Pistachios), said in a statement on Monday. "Our brand is known for leveraging pop culture icons, internet memes and YouTube sensations, and this year will be no different. We know what type of entertainment our audience wants and there's definitely something for everyone with this year's cast." (The press release also describes Rodman as a "peace advocate.")
The Get Crackin' commercials tap into hot pop-culture news, and sometimes they get political. South Korean singer Psy (of "Gangnam Style" fame) did one for the 2013 Super Bowl. Comedian Lewis Black has starred in one. Another Get Crackin' commercial pokes fun at the 2012 Secret Service Colombia prostitution scandal, and another stars former Bristol Palin fiancé Levi Johnston. (Other examples of Wonderful Pistachios edginess include an ad featuring a whip-brandishing dominatrix.)
But this is the first time they've done one about a totalitarian mass murderer killing a celebrity with (presumably) a nuclear weapon. And some people are predictably raising their eyebrows. "Dennis Rodman's weird, terrible, un-Wonderful pistachios commercial," wrote the Washington Post's Alexandra Petri. Paramount Farms (which has been pushing the Rodman ad hard) did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But according to Wonderful Pistachios Twitter page, Rodman had a "blast" shooting the commercial.