Social Question

josie's avatar

Does the attached article affirm that the all to frequent play of the "race card" is becoming absurd?

Asked by josie (30931points) August 19th, 2011

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/nivea-ad-racist_n_930501.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl6%7Csec3_lnk1%7C87600

I thought it was bad enough when political opponants of Barack Obama were called racist.

But now, I just don’t get it. What exactly is somebody trying to say in this web article? Where is the implied racism?

It’s hard for me to admit, but I have to confess I finally do not get it. And maybe that is good. Now maybe I can finally write it all off as bullshit :)

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

31 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I can see how it could be construed as racist, but I just don’t think it is and it’s not a big deal. Maybe I have too much faith in people, but I also wouldn’t think advertisers would hurt themselves by making a racist remark to the public like this. The point is to make money, not insult people and lose money.

CWOTUS's avatar

I guess to the extent that a black man with a bushy (and not perfectly even all around) afro and goatee could be considered “uncivilized”, it could be read as racism. (The way I read the ad, he’s throwing away the head of his ‘old look’. But the fact that he has a decapitated head in his hand could also be read as “uncivilized”. Do any of the white men pictured in other ads have heads in their hands?)

But I think mostly this is just another case of those feigning “permanent outrage” to flex their jaws again. As it usually is. If this is racism, then racism isn’t what it was when I was a kid.

bkcunningham's avatar

I love the two options for the HuffPo poll.

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, now that I’ve seen both ads, I’d say that the one with the black model is racist because he’s shown in an athletic pose, wearing jeans, an open-neck shirt and a casual sweater, and the white man is shown in a suit and tie. Totally racist. ~

CWOTUS's avatar

Whoa. Black men laugh? I’m learning all kinds of new things today.

Blackberry's avatar

@CWOTUS Well, it’s usually only at Tyler Perry movies and Friday, with Ice Cube, but occasionally we laugh at other stuff…..but yeah, our default is an intimidating stone cold facial expression. :D

marinelife's avatar

It’s a sensitive issue. If the slogan of the whole campaign had been “re-cvilize yourself” and it had been used with white models too that might have been different. But the fact that the white model’s ad said “Sin City isn’t an excuse to look like hell” instead makes it seem like they are saying blacks are uncivilized.

Since that was a frequent racist charge, there is still sensitivity to it.

I believe it was done inadvertently.

FutureMemory's avatar

Am I the only one that thinks the black guy looks like he’s playing basketball with his severed head? He looks like he’s in a defensive pose, looking for an opening to make that 3 point shot.

zenvelo's avatar

When an established company applies an old stereotype to only those who were the subjects of the stereotype, it reinforces the stereotype, and if that is based on a racist view of the world, it reinforces racism.

It may have been inadvertent, or unintentional, yet it reflects how racist viewpoints are ingrained. The fact that many on this post “don’t get it” demonstrates how interwoven it is in the American cultural thought process.

mazingerz88's avatar

It says “re-civilize” so it’s not saying the former look started out as uncivilized, just temporarily slipped into bad grooming habits, therefore time to re-civilized and look good again. If it says, “be civilized” then that’s another thing.

CWOTUS's avatar

@zenvelo don’t think we “don’t get it”. I know that I do, and I expect that everybody here “gets it”. The slogan could have been applied to every man of every ethnicity in every version of the ad. And if some sharp copy writer and art director at Nivea’s ad agency said, “Oh, we can’t use that slogan with the black man’s photo”, then that would have been overtly racist – and no one would have ever known.

By your logic, black people could never – ever! – advertise product made of cotton, or fried chicken or watermelon, or garden tools or a whole raft of products that are “stereotypically” associated with racism and/or slavery. I think it’s time to get past that, and past the hair-trigger claims of “Racism!” whenever we manage to spot one of these “implied stereotypes”.

I think that if whoever had first complained had written to Nivea and complained – with exactly the same complaint – and been brushed off with a reply on the order of “We don’t care about your kind”, then they’d have a prima facie reason to make the claim, and with multiple exclamation points. This ad? It’s not even worth the attention we’ve already given it here.

zenvelo's avatar

@CWOTUS You don’t get it at all if you think I am saying what you describe as “my logic.” A black person can advertise any of those things, it’s the application that an agency says ”only a black person can be used in those ads.

The Nivea ad put whites in one category and blacks in another; the whites were not placed in any stereotypical connotation while the black model was. If they had reversed it, no one would have expressed a concern but the implicit assignment of a role to black people would have been obviated.

And it’s ridiculous to call self editing by a “sharp copy writer” as racist.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I really don’t think this was intended in the way it has been taken. To me this is a case of people putting two and two together and coming up with five! If it had been on the ad with the white person then no one would have batted an eye lid but because it was on the ad with the black person it was over-thought until someone founf offense in it. Some people just look for things to be offended about if you ask me.

CWOTUS's avatar

If someone made the overt statement that “only a black man” could represent “uncivilized”, then I would agree with you, @zenvelo, that the ad was racist. Since we don’t know what was in the minds of the advertiser (except in arrears, when they profess their sincere – I believe – horror at what has been interpreted into the ad), then I take it as a fight looking for a place to happen.

We could interpret the ads from a sexist perspective, too, couldn’t we? Is it only men that can be uncivilized, badly groomed and “looking like hell”? Should I be outraged by that depiction of men?

The over-interpretation into this is nonsensical and demeaning to real issues of fairness and equal treatment.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

This question is completely absurd, and every single one of you who commented above me is racist! Even @Blackberry! It’s obvious he hates his own race, because he makes race oriented jokes! How dare any of you show your faces avatars? ~

Facade's avatar

Personally, I was offended by the ad. I wouldn’t say it was racist, but it is perpetuating a mindset that a lot of Black people are trying to get rid of– the mind set that only perfectly coifed, European-like hair is acceptable. I’ve encountered this many times since I stopped chemically processing my hair. Job recruiters have told me to “tone down” my hair for interviews. My father constantly asks me when I’m going to “take care of” or “fix” my hair. And just the other day, a coworker seemingly jokingly told me not to “go all Sideshow Bob” on her.
It may not seem like a big deal, but self-hatred is real. A lot of Black people, and people in general, think that only hair that is relatively straight and that is not causing a distraction is OK, and going along with that ignorance isn’t good for anyone.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Facade I assume you’ve seen Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair ?

Facade's avatar

I haven’t, actually. I saw the trailer, and the little girl getting her hair relaxed broke my heart, and I decided not to watch it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Facade I’m seriously not trying to be rude or deliberately obtuse, so please don’t take offense to this: I don’t understand what would be so heartbreaking about a little girl wanting to have her hair “relaxed”. I’m “white” and I have uber thick, curly hair that is frequently unmanageable. I’ve had it “relaxed”, “straight-permed”, and all other manner of things.

It doesn’t mean I have anything against my race, or my “racial looks”, I just do different things to my hair from time to time, either because I’d like a different look or because my hair is getting untameable again. Yet because I’m “white” I don’t think anyone would ever be offended or heartbroken that I do those things to my hair.

And when it comes to the hair comments from others, I wonder if maybe you’re just dealing with some really rude individuals. Even when I feel like my own curls are completely out of control, I get compliments like “Oh my god, I wish I had hair like yours” or “you have the prettiest curls”, and so on. I don’t think people in general believe that only straight hair is pretty.

FutureMemory's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate The documentary I mentioned above, Good Hair, was inspired by one of Chris Rock’s young daughters asking him “Daddy, when will I have good hair?”, which meant when will I have hair that doesn’t look like natural (curly) black hair?

Apparently it’s a very common thing in black culture for natural hair to be viewed as inferior, not as attractive, etc.

YouTube trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m-4qxz08So

You should watch the movie, it’s really quite interesting.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@FutureMemory Yes, I see, but it’s a pretty common thing in white culture for anything but straight blonde hair to be viewed as inferior, also. Just sayin’...

Facade's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate That goes to show that this isn’t just a Black issue…

wundayatta's avatar

Seen on it’s own, it suggests that blacks are kind of born frizzy and wild and ape-like—historically images that have insulted blacks for centuries. It suggests that blacks aren’t civilized and that they need help that whites don’t need. Seen with the other ad, so there is context, it seems less racist. It seems more just ill-advised.

I don’t really understand the ad campaign. Are these men throwing away their old masks to become good looking people? Are they throwing away their werewolf nature to become civilized? Re-civilize yourself. Like you weren’t civilized in the first place?

I actually think these ads are pretty insulting to all men. Something that maybe a woman would have dreamed up. It’s part of the we hate hair and we love everything clean cut and neat movement. Personally, I find it all to be very off-putting and it makes me reconsider my use of their products.

They used to be innocuous. Innocuous in male skin care products is good. Nice, clean, nothing scented, just businesslike dealing with dry skin. That’s all I need. But this stuff looks sort of emasculating. Like men should throw away their inner wildness and become, well, frou frou. These ads are not only racists, I think, but they are anti-male. I hope they die quickly.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’m offended that it implies being “civilized” as superior.

CWOTUS's avatar

Let’s all be thankful that it wasn’t a GEICO commercial. We dodged a bullet there.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@CWOTUS Those always annoyed me as both an anthropologist and rewilder.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Facade That was kind of my point.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. What you set your radar for is the thing you will more than likely find more than anything else. You have to be living under a rock not to know Jim Crow has never left the building even with a president that is half Black. Jim Crow gets as far as the lobby then someone always invites him back upstairs. In the ads I seen the while guy looking more wild, head wise, than the Black guy. In the other ad it would seem everyone overlooked the fact the woman on the left was chunky compared to the other two, they just focused on her nationality. Why don’t anyone create controversy of the Geico cavemen? I guess I am open to create controversy by saying only Eupeans are unsophisticated cavemen. See how easy that was? There were no Black or Hispanic cavemen in those ads. You can take a nugget of anything and wrap it with BS until you have a big ball of it. Jim Crow still exist, sadly enough, but it is not in everything, everywhere that Black America didn’t come up with. I hear the ‘N-bomb” more from Blacks than I ever do from anyone else around my neck of the woods. That is a different story though.

@WillWorkForChocolate @Facade I’m seriously not trying to be rude or deliberately obtuse, so please don’t take offense to this: I don’t understand what would be so heartbreaking about a little girl wanting to have her hair “relaxed”. ….. either because I’d like a different look or because my hair is getting untameable again. Yet because I’m “white” I don’t think anyone would ever be offended or heartbroken that I do those things to my hair. It would be hard for you to get the full grasp of it, just as it would be for me to get the full grasp of white people and sunburn. Over the years I have known many friends and in summer be it camping, working outdoors, swimming they always concerned about burning. “Make sure you have sunscreen with you”, “Don’t forget to put sun screen on again after you get from the water”. “If you take your shirt off watch yourself so you don’t burn”, etc. Having never sunburned in my life or ever coming close to it, I don’t know what it is like to ever been sunburned, so can’t ever really place myself worrying about it that much. Caucasian hair comes in many flavors, straight, wavy, curly, etc. Most Black hair, unless you have some cut in you, will be very kinky. The only other look one can have is less than natural than that. You can’t really put kinky hair in a bun, a French roll, flip, a bob, etc. As in the trailer for ”Good Hair” many Black women’s hair do not grow long enough naturally for those anyhow, which is why many have weaves, extensions, and hair pieces. I am not sure if all the extra care of having a processed perm is any less effort for Black women, or more manageable, some applications might go better but the over all effort to keep it up might offset any gains.

It has quite been known in the Black community, at least the one I grew up in, that the statement the guy in the Afro made in the ”Good Hair” about the more kinky the hair, the more white people are uncomfortable resonated quite loud. Most of the kids in my school were not ”blended”, so 90% (est) had the natural kinky hair. The few that were ”blended” and thus had softer curls were favored more by teacher, shop owners, etc. If you could take a fine-tooth comb and rake it through your hair with out having to have your hair .25in short, you had “good hair”. If you had “good hair” you were likely treated better by teachers and the school staff.

This might give you another taste on it, Tyra Good Hair show

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I just typed out a really long comment, explaining why I feel like this entire situation is because of a bunch of people making a mountain out of a molehill, but I honestly don’t feel like getting into what is inherently behind the this outcry of racism. If I get into a debate over this, I will only get angry and everyone on the thread will wish I’d never commented.

I will give the briefest possible summary of what I originally intended to say: The ad linked in the details is not racist. The people who are crying “racism” over it are the true racists.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther