This ad is interesting because it simultaneously reinforces and refutes black gender stereotypes. Sean “Diddy” Combs, a rap industry maven and spokesman for Ciroc vodka, is featured with three women. The ad targets black people who listen to rap music. By putting a twist on the rap industry’s gender and sexuality stereotypes, the ad reinterprets black gender and sexual desire.
Black masculinity has traditionally been associated with promiscuity, especially in rap music. Although the ad implies a sexual dynamic between Combs and the women, there is an absence of the “raw, uncivilized sexuality” (Hill Collins 151) connected to the physical body that is typical of black media representations. Instead, Combs’ sexuality ties to his economic capital, as the ad sells the classy, luxurious lifestyle that makes him appealing to the women. The ad supports the idea that black men with enough money can do whatever they want, as “money is the ultimate source of liberation in capitalist America” (Hill Collins 158).
Black femininity, on the other hand, “reinforce[s] notions of an inappropriate, female strength” (Hill Collins 179) through media portrayals of uneducated, unrefined “bitches” with masculine tendencies. In Dreamworlds, we saw that black women are objectified in hip-hop music videos as sex dancers. The women in this ad, however, demonstrate traditional notions of white femininity. Instead of flashing their bodies in provocative dance moves, they are lounging elegantly. If white women with the same clothes, hairstyles, and postures replaced the black women in the ad, they would look perfectly in place. However, the ad does not completely avoid black female stereotypes. Killing Us Softly showed that advertisements often feature black women in a jungle context, as though they were exotic animals. Here, one woman is wearing a zebra print dress, reinforcing the association between black women and exotic animals.
Hill Collins, Patricia. “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black
Masculinity.”Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New
Racism. New York [u.a.: Routledge, 2004. 149-80. Print.
Jhally, Sut, Andrew Killoy, and Joe Bartone. Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in
Music Video. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2007.
Kilbourne, Jean, Sut Jhally, and David Rabinovitz. Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s
Image of Women. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2010.