Racial Diversity in Film

Being one of my year-round favorite movies, I’ll be taking a look at Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Though the main character of the film played by Uma Thurman is a blue-eyed blonde, the rest of the cast is relatively diverse. With a significant portion of the film’s plot involving Tokyo and the Yakuza, dozens of Japanese actors were cast as gangsters in positions of power. In one scene Lucy Liu’s character, O-Ren Ishii, even comments on the discrimination she faced as a half-Japanese, half-Chinese-American woman. Another noteworthy example of diversity are the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DVAS). Though three of the five DVAS members are white, O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green (played by Vivica A. Fox) are two characters who give the heroine a run for her money.
On the other hand, these characters of color are both killed in the movie’s first volume. In Kill Bill Vol.2, there wasn’t much racial diversity at all. I may have to give the films another go, this time with diversity on my mind.

4 out of the 5 members of DVAS

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Gender Roles in Advertising

One of the biggest problems within gender stereotypes in the media is the differentiation of gender roles. So many advertisements have a woman have women performing stereotypical tasks while cast in a lower position than a man’s. Many commercial place women in subordinate roles, serving the men in one way or another. Malgorzata Wolska of krytyka.org elaborates:

Through the ages men have been considered to be financial providers, career-focused, assertive and independent, whereas women have been shown as low-position workers, loving wives and mothers, responsible for raising children and doing housework.

Wolska’s article on gender stereotypes in mass media discusses the position of stereotypes in advertising and the forward changes that are happening to “become informed viewers instead of manipulated consumers.”

I also came across this video put together by BuzzFeed in which a few commercial are recreated scene for scene with the only difference being a man in a stereotyped role originally intended for a woman.

Racist Stereotyping in Advertising

1. Is it ever right to racially stereotype for advertising purposes?

I believe that using a racial stereotype in ads is lazy. If it is not accurately representing a whole culture,    there is probably another way to get the message across in the ad.

2. Is racism in advertising a thing of the past?

Racism in advertising was a thing of the past. It is still a thing in the present. From time to time a blatantly racist commercial will wriggle its way past approval and air to the public. The following AdSavvy article goes over numerous ads, revealing that there are negative racist stereotypes in advertising even today.

http://www.adsavvy.org/25-most-racist-advertisements-and-commercials/

3. Do advertisers have ethical responsibilities?

Advertisers definitely have ethical responsibilities. Their advertisements may be seen by millions of people, young and old. Repetitive use of stereotypes, whether they attack gender, race, or both, reinforces their footing in society.

Gender Stereotypes

In class we watched an advertisement for Rose Petal Cottage, seen below. This play house is aimed at little girls using stereotypes in the commercial. The colors of the product are all pastel pink, purple, and yellow. The add-ons available include a washing machine and a crib. The girls playing the commercial are only shown cooking, cleaning, and taking care of a baby. The lyrics of the ad’s jingle include phrases like “taking care of my home is a dream dream dream”. These things influence young girls to think that becoming a housewife is the only path in life.

We got into small groups to discuss the ad and how it could be changed to  avoid gender stereotypes. Our group came up with the idea of adding extra furniture that wasn’t related to an indoor household chore, like a television or a lawnmower. Adding a little boy to the commercial could change it up. Instead of a just a little girl singing the jingle, there could be a small group of boys and girls singing.

Semiotics… of burgers.

McDonald’s Sundial Billboard

Pretty clever.

Denotation:
-A red billboard with a small logo of the “Golden Arches” in the corner
-Pictures of 6 different items from McDonald’s menu attached to lines
-Numbers next to the pictures of the food
-A large ‘M’ hanging over head, casting a shadow that moves as the sun moves across the sky

Connotation:
-Even with McDonald’s logo being relatively small in this ad, the billboard’s shade of red is an indicator of the brand
-The billboard acts as a sundial, with the numbers next to the food being the hours of the day
-As the shadow of the overhead ‘M’ moves, it suggests to the viewer that “9 o’clock is a great time for an Egg McMuffin.”

Mcdonald’s Breakfast Ad

2014-cannes-press-mcdonalds-2

Denotation:
-A woman seemingly made out of bubbles
-She is setting books down on a desk
-The clock face is at about 8:05
-Text reads “Leave you morning mood behind” and under the Golden Arches is “easy morning”

Connotation:
-The way the figure is dressed along with her setting suggests that she is a teacher
-The time of day and the blank blackboard indicates that the school day has just begun
-Being made of bubbles is a metaphor for fragile morning and being on the edge of bursting
-The tag lines suggest that McDonald’s breakfast options will make your day much better

TGI Friday’s Burger Ad

Denotation:
-Close up shots of hamburgers
-Burgers being assembled and eaten
-Narrator: “hand-crafted”, “fresh ingredients”, “flavor in every bite”

Connotation:
-The close up on the food brings the viewer closer to the burger
-The sizzling meats, dewey veggies, fresh baked buns, and dripping sauces emphasizes the quality of the ingredients and the care put into its preparation
-“Stacked Burgers” are the subject of this ad, and the commercial shows the hamburgers being stacked layer by layer to showcase the multitude of ingredients going into each burger
-The narrator’s dialogue is meant to appeal to the viewer’s association with words like “hand-crafted” and “fresh”

Environmental Campaigns and Digital Technology

Coming from Monterey Bay, I’m familiar with organizations that focus on the protection of marine sanctuaries and marine life.

One such organization is Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies. This non-profit’s focus is studying the foraging of killer whales and the distribution of other whales and dolphins.


Gray Whales shared by Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies

I discovered this organization through their Facebook page. A friend of mine attends CSUMB and works with Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies. I see her share a post about the organization and its activities at least once a day. I think it’s very effective for an environmental organization to have a strong social media presence with volunteers actively sharing their updates. Through social media, they can utilize the power that peers have on each other. I may not have read any of the articles about Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies if my friend hadn’t shared and encouraged me to look into it.

Link to Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies’ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MontereyBayMarineLifeStudies

My Buddy, The Super Bowl.

Me and the Super Bowl. Sure, we don’t have much in common.

And no, I don’t pay much attention to the majority of it.

But I still love the Super Bowl because it brings with it one of my favorite things:
food Super Bowl ads

One of my favorite ads of Super Bowl XLVIII was Jaguar’s “British Villains ‘Rendezvous'”

I love this commercial. And it’s not because it stars the dashing Tom Hiddleston.
The actors portray the stereotypical Bond villain: intelligent, affluent, mysterious, and so very cool.
It seems that these villains are meant to be the personification of Jaguar as a brand. They describe themselves as more focused, more precise, one step ahead, with a certain style, an eye for detail, and obsessed with power. If you as a consumer would like these traits for yourself, you had better go out and get yourself a Jag.

This ad really gives Jaguar a distinguished air. The hashtag for the campaign, #GoodToBeBad, aims to connect to the viewer’s darker side, itching to be a bit naughty. Apparently, you can be as bad as you’d like when you drive a Jaguar.

I may not have seen this commercial if I wasn’t watching the Super Bowl. It’s not just a sporting event. Some fans have adopted as a national holiday. It’s an enormous event for advertisers as well, with over 100 million* watching Super Bowl XLVIII. That’s a lot of potential customers.

*http://www.ibtimes.com/super-bowl-2014-ratings-how-many-people-watched-seattle-seahawks-vs-denver-broncos-1552989