It's a spine-tingling game of cat and mouse with a shocking surprise twist when rapper Queen Latifah takes her mother to Wal-Mart for last-minute holiday shopping. The new series of Wal-Mart commercials featuring the Living Single star is a bold, innovative move for the beleaguered company, which is better known for woefully inadequate health benefits, destroying small business, and providing a haven for obese and mentally challenged shoppers.
In the commercial "Home for the Holidays," Latifah (in the difficult role of playing herself) nervously paces around her mansion, bemoaning the fact she has no time to buy presents for unappreciative relatives who are clearly jealous of Queen's fame and glory. In the background, Latifah's mother sips her coffee—her pointed silence a testament to the sheer idiocy of her daughter shopping at Wal-Mart, when she could easily afford any garment on Rodeo Drive.
"I don't know how we gonna get all this done toDAY," Latifah says, hitting the last syllable extra hard to remind viewers that while she may be selling out to a honky corporation, she is, and shall always be, BLACK. Latifah's mother remains silent still—probably wondering where she, and 35 years of civil rights activism, went wrong.
Upon entering the store, mother is on the verge of an epileptic seizure, spinning away from her disappointing daughter and grabbing gift certificate cards off the rack. "We're done!" shouts the mother plaintively, eyes begging to be whisked away from this lower-class ring of Dante's Inferno. Latifah smiles, shaking her head at her mother's wisdom, yet still unable to grasp that her newfound wealth was earned from exploitation not unlike that suffered by her own people. Though not as comedically engaging as her other Wal-Mart commercials, "Home for the Holidays" is nonetheless a stinging rebuke to race, class, and social mores. And fat people. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY