Table of Contents
The American media has historically been attributed to some of the gravest and disheartening stereotypical portrayals of the minorities. The primary medium through which this negative image appears is the advertisement sector which has seen and triggered backlash and outrage from the public. Dove and Coca-Cola have fallen victim to public criticism on negative portrayals of the black and the Mexican American communities as this exploration seeks to justify their forms of stereotypes.
Black/African Americans: Black is Not Beautiful
One of the racial or ethnic groups that have fallen victim to negative portrayal is the black or African race, especially in the mainstream media. Notably, the beauty industry has always been in the spotlight for upholding the notion that mixed-raced, lighter or white models are the perfect definitions of beauty, or best to say, the beauty standards (Thomas et al. 61). In fact, in many of the countries, there has been a historical portrayal or depiction of darker models being used in demonstrating the lightening qualities of productions which would or are poised to help women to reach the specific standard. The media has had or presented a repressive narrative about women from the minority races, especially women. An excellent and recent example is the Dove ad which appeared on Facebook and brought about significant outrage for portraying the real sense of beauty and insinuating that black women are dirty and not beautiful in their natural state (Reuters). The advert is a depiction of a woman removing her shirt, initially a black woman and then upon using Dove products, the changes into different transformations of light-skinned and then eventually, a white woman.
We can do it today.
From a sociological perspective, the Dove advertisement denotes or portrays the inherently held negative attitudes and attributes towards the minority groups, especially showing or depicting biases targeted at the minority and as such, unequal treatment. Showing a black woman changing from lighter to a darker skin is a justification of the unequal treatment as a characteristic of the minority group, a problem currently befalling minority groups. Hence, to a greater respect or perspective, they are shown or portrayed as not equal to the races of lighter skin and also not as beautiful as the white woman. Conversely, the backlash against the advertisement and solidarity from different parts of the world, both from minority and majority races were all aimed at debunking the negative stereotype, of which the trend portrayed the role of functional theory in trying to resolve the situation. The functional theory indicates that all problems faced by the minority races could be better addressed through or by adjusting to the social system, or the emphasis on restoring the state of equilibrium. Hence, unequal representation of the black woman through the Dove advertisement was met by a rebuttal from different parts or elements of society, all emphasized on creating equilibrium and functioning society where everyone is treated and regarded as equal.
Conversely, the conflict theory explains the advertisement and negative portrayal of the black woman. In most cases, racism is concerned with power maintenance and resource control. The advert considered a racist slur was meant to maintain the power dominance through the white woman over the black woman as superior regarding beauty and cleanliness.
Mexican Americans: Marginalized
The Hispanics and Latinos have been faced with serious stereotypes in the USA, and one of such concerns was shown from Coca-Cola, a racist commercial showing hipsters taking Coke drinks to Mexicans (in the village) (Blakinger). The claim made in the advertisement is that currently, 81.6% of the Mexican indigenous groups are marginalized since Spanish is not their first language, despite having no substantive source, further going on suggesting viewer so that they can break down the prejudice by sharing #AbreTuCorazon, a synonym for “Open Your Heart” (Blakinger).
The advertisement is one of the discriminating and racist media portrayals which promotes social fabric breakdown as it tries imposing consumer culture and civilization from outside communities to indigenous or minority groups (Zúñiga 97). It is a show of colonialism of the Latinos as one of the minorities in the USA. As such, the negative portrayal shows the internal colonialism concept whereby the minorities are being forced to join societies or cultures of their colonizers. Imposing Coca-Cola consumer culture enforces food or beverage culture to the minorities, which to a greater extent, is part of colonialization. The backlash that followed after the ad was made public tended to align towards the ideology of secession which advocates the complete separation of a group or total withdrawal from the particular society. Consequently, much of the backlash on the advertisement came from Mexican Americans which portrays Nativism or the hostile reactions towards foreign whereby foreigners are believed to be presented dominant to the culture or people.
In summary, Dove rekindled the debate on the media portrayal of standard beauty, which to a greater extent is attributed to being light-skin or even white. It has shown that the black woman is not beautiful and by using its products, it is possible to achieve the “perfect” skin tone. The same applies to the Coca-Cola advertisement on the Mexicans as it shows how the company is trying to impose the American culture onto the people as the most superior. Hence, in both cases, there are instances of minority discrimination whereby their societies are regarded as inferior but from the backlash, it is evident that the minority ethnic groups are equally standing their ground to remain or have a place within the American society by maintaining and keeping their cultural and societal norms, values and ascriptions.
- Blakinger, Keri. “Coca-Cola pulls Mexican ad after accusations of racism”. Dec 7, 2015. Web. 7 November 2017.
- Reuters. “The black model who appeared in controversial dove ad doesn’t think it’s racist.” Oct 11 2017. Web. 7 November 2017.
- Thomas, Tandy Chalmers, et al. “Advertising as unfavorable self-presentation: The dirty laundry effect.” Journal of Advertising, 44.1(2015): 58-70.
- Zúñiga, Miguel A. “African American consumers’ evaluations of ethnically primed advertisements.” Journal of Advertising, 45.1(2016): 94-101.