Nick Offerman's Nascar Super Bowl commercial criticised for bullying gluten-free diets

Ron Swanson's snide opening remarks feels the wrath of the gluten-free and is cut from TV commercial

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The Independent Culture

Ron Swanson is a stubborn libertarian of particular interests, such as hunting, meat, whisky, breakfast and more meat. For Swanson, a character played by Nick Offerman in the sitcom Parks and Recreation, food is more important than feelings.

Therefore, it must have been obvious for those at Nascar to use Swanson, the embodiment of their particular image of "America," as the voice of their latest commercial during this year's Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Swanson's all-American traits that make him such a cult figure and an evident draw for NASCAR, also conspired against Offerman and the racing sport.

In the Nascar commercial, the 44-year-old actor says, against a Star-Spangled Banner backdrop, "America it’s time for a gut check...When our idea of danger is eating gluten, there's trouble afoot. Yes, we the people have gotten soft and all the likes in the world aren't gonna' save us now."

That last line was quickly criticised by some people for implying that those who can't eat gluten are "soft". A petition was created soon after the commercial was unveiled online calling on NBC to not show the commercial. By Sunday, it had nearly 18,000 signatures.

"Gluten Dude", who penned the petition, said: "I think about all of the gluten-free children getting bullied for being "different", when all they want to do is feel better and fit in...I think about all of the people in the past who have died prematurely when going gluten-free MAY have been their saving grace.

"NBC is running a Super Bowl ad that makes fun of those who are gluten-free. It implies that we're soft...we're weak...we're part of America's problem. When all we're trying to do is manage our disease. Celiac can be a true pain."

By Super Bowl Sunday, an NBC Sports spokesman had said that the offending line would not appear in the 60-second version of the commercial, stating, "The intent of our creative was to highlight...the sport's fun and passionate following. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, but we understand that it is hard to please everyone and apologize to anyone who took offense."

Not that NASCAR changed their own opinion of the commercial when they tweeted soon after the shortened version ran on NBC:

Offerman has not commented on the controversy, but it is evident what Swanson's take on any sort of diet would be. When asked if he would like salad by Chris Traeger in one episode, Swanson replies, "Since I am not a rabbit: No, I do not".