Thursday, April 3, 2008

Post About Nothing and 10 Cane Rum

It's no secret that I am obsessed with images of black women in the media. I can't look at an ad with a black model without scrutinizing every little detail about the image. I write a lot in this blog about the lack of black models in advertisements and how many in the fashion industry seem to have narrow views of how a black woman should be depicted. Occasionally, I wonder if I might be overdoing it, looking for biases or other flaws where there is none intended.

I think part of that just comes from having a blog and subscribing to too many magazines. I'm always looking for the next thing that moves me enough to write about it. Since the Lebron/Vogue dust up, I've been thinking about this quote from The Washington Post's Robin Givhan:

“It’s so exhausting that every time people see an image of a black person they work themselves into a tizzy that somehow it doesn’t adhere to the way in which they think a black person should be presented...The whole LeBron thing really comes down to … maybe Vogue should have more people of color on their cover, male and female...Maybe then they won’t be so scrutinized when they do put a person of color on their cover.”

I took that quote to heart because I really think there is a lot of truth in it. So, I'm going to try really hard not to over shit all over this series of "affluent lifestyle" ads for 10 Cane Rum (which were developed by Mother New York.)

Instead of pontificating on inherent plantation vibe that seems to be a part of all Caribbean made rum ads, I'm going to focus on the positive for once.

For example, there are no pirates in this ad. Obviously the shitty last chapter of the "Pirates of the Carribean" series has put the final nail trend that was pirate chic.

Second, the older white guy has black friends. He invited them to his beach party and he cares enough about them to take a picture. Who cares if he's only going to use the photos to show his friends back home how not racist he is. The fact is, everyone was having a good time. Also, he has a black girlfriend and apparently she can swim because why else would she be hanging out with him on the water in that prop plane? Stereotype shattered. Black chicks can swim. This is a good thing. In one of the photos he even let her bring her dad along in the dingy. See? Family values, another mark in the positive column.

See? That really wasn't hard at all.


The Black Snob said...

Always look on the bright side of editorial photography, I say.

If there is a bright side.

And on the LeBron photo, my official opinion is, regardless of the racial aspect, it was a damn ugly picture. Hideous.

And I'm also obsessed with the images of black women in media. So you do sort of have to take what you can glean from it.

Nice blog BTW! Thanks for adding SCAN to your blog roll.

aulelia said...

I see what Givhan is saying but people need to work themselves up or things to change. there is no doubt about that. if no one said anything, we would then be accepting the situation. and that is worse than the connotations of the image of LB as a King Kong substitute.

Camille Acey said...

I'm trying to stop myself typing this....oh dear, why does the black girl have to be so disrobed. Everyone is dressed in their crisp whites and every picture she is scantily clad like the group's personal "exotic". I am not saying she needs to put more clothes on rather I don't understand why they had every one else in white to give such a sharp contrast to her bare skin...come on people.

Besides that I agree with your positive characterizations...

Brigitte said...

Camille, you need to stop thinking of the woman as a person. The main dude in the ad is just enjoying everything Trinidad has to offer: the sand, the water, the women and of course the rum.

Stop thinking of her as an individual and think of her more as part of a welcome package complete with a fruit basket and a map of the city. ;)

Camille Acey said...

thank you for clearing this up for me ms. brigitte. :)

Ahhh Trinidad, I see now, what wonderful offerings! I simply must call my travel agent, but first i will fetch my purse and hat and be off to the store for another lovely bottle of 10 cane. Things just make more sense after a couple of sips of that magnificent elixir of the gods!

raafi said...

If that's what they're offering in Trinidad, methinks I'll book a ticket right away. And if the trip is fun, I'll buy some 10 Cane at the duty free.

carla said...

I have thought about that Givhan quote as well, and intent is hardly the bottom line with anything that's put out in the world--every artist intends something and some viewer or reader will bring something else to it that they might not have anticipated. None is more valid than the other, and it's all part of how images communicate. I think it's important to scrutinize--images are not benign. That said, some are ambiguous enough to ultimately not raise a flag, but they ought to be scrutinized nonetheless.

And this is true in an all-black venue such as Essence or BET as well as in the mainstream. More images doesn't necessarily mean more complex representations. If that were so you'd think we'd have passed that mark by now in 2008.

And seriously? Woman=fruit basket? Trinidad offers women as tourist commodities? As a global commodity, that's not sexy, that's problematic.

Aquarian Thoughts said...

HAHA!! Oh, how I missed reading this blog!

Your comments are so on point I can only laugh!

I may not be obsessed with black women in the media/ads, but I do feel overwhelmed and bombarded by all of the "non-black" images that exist from the billboards on the highways, to the magazines starring at me as I pay for my groceries. Enough is really enough . . . .