By Ashley Okwuosa
In a society where sex sells, it’s hard not to be bombarded with images that propel the agenda. Sex, nudity and all the things that come with it, are used to push products. Now, it would be a lot easier to deal with if sex was our only problem, but unfortunately, sex, sexism, racism and skewed power structures are also part of the discussion. Why does this matter? Actually, the question should be, why should it matter. Well, in a society where constructed ideas of normalcy are disguised as race, gender, and so on, it would be criminal for us not to know how we are being targeted by the media, and the affects it has on us.
As Bell Hooks said in this video, media has become a pedagogy; a method through which we learn. Wether we realize it or not. Not only does the media teach us, it works to reinforce notions that we may have never questioned before, and in reality come to be okay with.
What is wrong with the video below?
I mean, what is really wrong with it? In the text, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitutions” by Judith Butler, she says “Gender is instituted through the stylization of the body and, hence, must be understood, as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements and enactments constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self” (Butler, 392) These constructed ideas of gender are continuously propelled throughout the media, and we have internalized them. We don’t question what is wrong with ad’s like this. It’s either, we have become immune or we’re told that it’s not a big deal.
Above is an editorial from the online publication Buro 24/7. Well, the image is clear to see, but again what is wrong with this image? I was told that this was a poor attempt at an artistic representation. Major side eye. In the reading, “The Spectacle of The Other” Hall, discusses representation. Although, it’s hard for me to say, Miroslava Duma’s intention might not have been outrightly racist (It doesn’t make it any less) but what did this image represent. Racial power structures, Insensitivity, and everything but Art.
“Representation is a complex business, and especially when dealing with ‘difference’, it engages feelings, attitudes, and emotions in the viewer, at deeper levels than we can explain in our simple, common sense way” (Hall, 226)
The point that i’m trying to make, is that a lot of people don’t see the racism or sexism that is rife in today’s media. When we think of sexist ads, we immediately think about the Mad Men era (See below)
A quick google search shows pulls up, ads from the mid 90’s first, before showing the most recent examples. The culture that we live in, isn’t fully aware of what we are up against, let alone it’s impact. We must learn to question the ads, question the motives of the companies, because silence and ignorance only feeds the monster.
1) Butler, Judith. Performative Acts and Gender Constitution. An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory pg. 393. Print
2) Hall, Stuart. Chapter 4 The Spectacle of the Other pg. 236. Print.
3) Hooks, Bell Cultural Criticism and Transformation (Video. Hyperlinked above)
* All Images are linked back to original source*