This blog will be assessing the belief that racism is an issue, which will repeatedly be brought up in every generation. Three adverts from different epochs will be analyzed and broken down to see if there are any racist signals or signs.
Galton’s (1869) categorizes race into different ranks from highest to lowest. He believed and ranked
“mental capabilities of different ethnic groups. He came to the conclusion that people of African descent were two grades lower than Europeans”.
Meaning that people weren’t judged for their character, but instead already arbitrated depending on the colour of their skin. The colour of your skin would determine you as a person and were you stood in society.
Although this theory is over hundred years old, it is one that can be used in some adverts today. If we take a look at this Benetton Advert (1982) it pictures two innocent girls holding each other, however there’s an inequity. On the left we see a smiling white girl with blonde curly hair and rosy cheeks, representing an angel. On the other hand we see black girl with hair pointed upwards (horns) repelling a smile, representing a devil. These annotations of the two children link to Galton’s theory of rank, the white are two grades higher (heaven/angels) and the black are ‘two grades lower’ (hell/devils).
After identifying (Critical Race Theory 2015) looks at white supremacy and racial power, one belief they had was Social Construction it
“refers to the notion that race is a product of social thought and relations. It suggests that race is a product of neither biology nor genetics, but is rather a social invention.”
This is an advert made by Cadbury in 2011; the announcement is for their new type of chocolate called Bliss, however there is a twist. It references the English model Naomi Campbell saying “Move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town”. Cadbury deliberately compares their chocolate with Campbell for her skin colour. The advert in someway undermines Naomi because it advertises an inanimate object such as chocolate and replaces a black individual, giving this social construct that black people are devalued in society. It also quotes “I’m the worlds most pampered bar”; this in itself is another social construct. It suggests that being “pampered” raises your significance and importance, making Cadbury look shallow and petty.
In 2016 Gap made an advert for it’s children clothing line, featuring four friends posing playfully. It is obvious that some of these kids are gymnasts from the way they’re able to stretch their body and balance, yet this isn’t 100% clear because of one child. We see a small black girl who is being used for an armrest by her white ‘friend’. The standing for this girl makes it unclear whether she is actually part of this group because of how she is captured in the picture. Strauss and Barthes theory (Binary Opposites) is one that can be used, they believed
“words depends not so much on any meaning they themselves directly contain, but much more by our understanding of the difference between the word and its ‘opposite’”.
In this advert the binary opposites are white girls and blacks girls, it portrays black girls to be incapable of being as flexible compared to the white girls. It puts white skinned people in the spotlight, showing that you’re able to do more than what a black person can. The black girls unhappy facial expression demonstrates the campaign completely and people’s response to the advert, which has left Gap, criticized and frowned upon by many of its viewers.
Overall you can see that race is a theme that will always be around, over the years it’s obvious that adverts have gradually become less racially offensive. It’s mainly all about perspective and how you view an image. It depends where you come from and how long you analyze an advert.
Scott. L Thomas (2014) Galton’s (1869) Atlanta Blackstar. Available at: http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/12/26/10-racist-scientific-theories-about-black-people-that-has-been-thoroughly-debunked/ (Accessed: 22 March 2016).
Owl Purdue Online Writing Lab (2015) Critical Race Theory. Available at: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/14/ (Accessed: 24 March 2016).
EnglishBiz Binary Opposites Available at: http://www.englishbiz.co.uk/popups/opposition.htm (Accessed: 25 March 2016).