Kerala govt's anti-drug advert draws flak on Twitter for alleged racial overtones

No To Drugs
Screengrab of the actors playing the innocent schoolboy (left) and the drug-seller from the 'No To Drugs' campaign advert of the Kerala Government.

A Kerala Government video advert on its 'No To Drugs' campaign has drawn flak on social media for alleged racial overtones.

The 80-second video calling for anti-drug awareness was released on Twitter late on Friday night. Within hours, the majority of interactions on Twitter cried foul.

The video features a fair-skinned schoolboy in uniform encountering a dark-skinned youth, wearing a colourful shirt, in a walkway. The drug-seller attempts to coax the teen to try drugs and to share it with his friends.

Initially taken aback, the boy pulls himself together and brings out a phone from his pocket. On his mobile screen, appears a recorded video of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan delivering a message on the dangers of drugs and how strong action was needed to put an end to the menace.

That unsettles the drug-seller and just then a set of ever-vigilant Kerala policemen appear and nab the culprit after a brief chase. The cops then proceed to congratulate the schoolboy for acting responsibly and courageously.

While the message of 'say no to drugs' is clear, Twitterati also saw an alleged attempt at stereotyping.

"Great.. a drug-seller should always look dark, and those who fight it, fair-skinned. So, racial discrimination is fine if its state-sponsored?" wrote a Twitter user.

"The cringe factor apart, this video is classic example of how not to do anti-drug messaging," read a tweet. "Before you stop drug use, stop racism," was another comment.

Responses such as, "Who approves such ads?" and "What message is the government trying to give? were also seen.

The 'No To Drugs' campaign is set to be rolled out throughout the state on Gandhi Jayanti (Sunday).

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