Tag Archives: Patricia Hill Collins

Meat and Meat

This very recently aired Taco Bell commercial, aims to showcase its new featured item; The Triple Steak Stack.  This advertisement does an exceptional job at reinforcing the, oh so, overbearing stereotypes surrounding the societal expectations for what masculinity should mimic. The producers have managed to accomplish a phenomenal feat, and should win the prize for cramming the most barbaric representations of the male gendered species in only 31 seconds.

Firstly, the voiceover, who acts as the little voice inside the main character’s head—Hurricane Doug, is incredibly deep, with a raspy quality that heightens the intensity of what is supposed to be true manliness.  Though, looking at ‘Hurricane Doug’ it is obvious that this voice does not match the same register of his own.  Doug is a shorter, white male, dressed in business casual clothing.  The commercial alludes to the notion that because of Doug’s outward appearance, he is not considered a “man’s man,” but by eating more steak he now will be able to consider himself one, and even be man enough to join the “real men” on the basketball court.

Another concern is the representation of the black men playing basketball.  Their depiction takes on an almost animalistic portrayal.  The music is slowed down and their words are distorted so it just sounds like muffled animal roars.  This tactic is used to heighten the intimidation factor for Doug, but it simultaneously heightens the racial stigmatization about black people.  Patricia Hill Collins writes in her article Booty Call, “Some black men’s bodies may be admired, as is the case for athletes, but other black bodies symbolize fear” (Hill 158).  This short advertisement manages to take the admired athletic black man’s body and turn it into the body that evokes fear.

This barbaric claim that a man is a man when he eats his meat underpins all of the misconceptions about male gender and masculinity.  So thank you Taco Bell, for creating a nation wide commercial that exploits the vulnerable male ego, by making the claim, a man is not a man without his meat.  That is exactly what society needed.

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Ad Critique: since when does lotion-use require “manning up”?

Men are not encouraged to use beauty and bath products, as that is considered to be a ‘feminine’ activity. Nonetheless, many men do, in fact, need and use lotion because—do I need to say it?—all human beings have skin! Gold Bond recently released a commercial for “Gold Bond Men’s Essentials Ultimate” featuring former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. Shaquille O’Neal is the picture of masculinity: he is large in stature, athletic, and African American. According to Patricia Hill-Collins in ““Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity,” African American athletes are considered to be “hyper-heterosexual” (Hill-Collins 158). African American athletes represent the pinnacle of masculinity, historically viewed as being “primarily bodies ruled by brute strength and natural instincts” (Hill-Collins 152).  It is no surprise, therefore, that Gold Bond opted to feature this imposing and masculine athlete to market their product, in order to remove some of the stigma of femininity that some men may feel about using lotion. The commercial concludes with the slogan “Man Up…with Gold Bond,” once again indicating the essentiality of defining the product as wholly masculine. By blatantly stressing masculinity throughout this entire ad, it only serves to reinforce the gender binary that dictates gender appropriate behavior. Since when did the use of lotion have to become a test of one’s masculinity?

Patricia Hill-Collins. “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.” Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2005. 149-180.

“Gold Bond Ultimate Men’s Lotion TV Spot, ‘I Get Supple’ Ft. Shaq.” iSpot.Tv. November 28, 2013. Accessed November 28, 2013 from http://www.ispot.tv/ad/72QT/gold-bond-ultimate-mens-lotion-i-get-supple-ft-shaq

Responsibility in Hip-hop

“What am I responsible for?” The question boggles my mind whenever I am thinking about the media’s delivery of certain issues. We discuss and talk about society for the majority of class and we consequently forget to analyze ourselves. Taking this class and reading the pieces assigned has made me aware that I am not proud of what I am indirectly responsible for, but in a sense I also know that I am not alone. I am stuck in an odd position as a hip-hop fanatic. It is because of hip-hop that a lot of what Patricia Collins states is true. Black males proving themselves by conquering women and “getting paid” are things echoed by song lyrics. It is such an accepted truth that I don’t even need a citation. Being a fan of the music automatically, but indirectly, supports the societal pressures set upon black youth to prove their masculinity. The more we consume, the more it is produced, causing the chain to continue. I guess the even bigger question is, how can we break this chain? The first step begins with all hip-hop fans acknowledging there is a problem needing to be fixed.

Citations:

Hill Collins, Patricia. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans Gender and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Axe: anyone can do it

In this particular Axe commercial, women are made to be nothing more than items waiting to be conquered. This sets up Patricia Collins’s claim that men must exert their masculinity on others by showing how they can conquer women. Of course, the only way to do this is by buying the product. An interesting thing to note about this ad is that there isn’t a variance in customer aim other than the heterosexual cisgender male. Because of its nature, it spends most of its screen time showing women. As discussed in class, the women take on the job to fulfill a man’s fantasy by being part of alluring “professions”.  Another thing that is seen in this video is the way that men and women behave on screen. Women are confident in posture and attractive by society’s standards. The men on the other hand are goofy, nerdy, and not “babes” by the media’s opinion. After all, any man, despite age or looks, can conquer a good looking woman if they use Axe.

 

Citations:

Hill Collins, Patricia. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans Gender and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2005.

What is Privilege? Halloween Edition

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In 2013, we often find ourselves living in the seemingly equal “post-racial” America. However, take a quick glance at this year’s crop of Halloween costumes and that reality is quickly shattered. Privilege has always manifested itself in Halloween through cultural appropriation, trivializing complex traditions and cultures to limited stereotypical tropes. Privilege in 2013 Halloween, however, takes a racially morbid tone as multiple white people have dressed up as Trayvon Martin: complete in blackface and a bloodstained hoodie.

Privilege is doing blackface and condoning the historical dehumanization and belittlement of African Americans for racist entertainment. Blackface affirms white superiority, and thus, white power. Privilege is coupling your Trayvon Martin costume with a friend dressed as George Zimmerman and ignoring the systemic racism that plagues our criminal justice system. Systemic racism in the justice system places more value on white than black lives. Privilege  is wearing a bloodstained hoodie and further policing the process of gender for Black masculinity. As Patricia Hill-Collins states in Black Sexual Politics, Black masculinity has a strict template in which it is acceptable, which is usually controlled by white authority (169). If you go outside that template, there are dire consequences, as showcased in the “hoodlum” Trayvon costume.

Blackface is never appropriate, so remember when you’re choosing your costume for Halloween this year to check your privilege, and ask yourself what exactly are you representing.

Works Cited:

Hill-Collins, Patricia. “”Booty Call:Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.” Black sexual politics: African Americans, gender, and the new racism. New York: Routledge, 2004. 149-180. Print.

PHOTO: Take from buzzfeed.com

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/a-boy-wore-blackface-and-dressed-up-as-trayvon-martin-for-ha

Ciroc Vodka: Reinterpreting Black Gender and Sexual Desire

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.

Sources

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.

What is Oppression in Media Representation?

In her book, “The Second Sex,” Simone de Beauvoir states, “All oppression creates a state of war” (Source here). For the sake of this post, I’m considering oppression in the form of reductive or absent media portrayals, although oppression as a concept can be seen differently in a myriad of institutions today. Regarding representation, bell hooks underlines the absence of black women in television and cinema in “The Oppositional Gaze,” stating that “black female spectators have had to develop looking relations within a cinematic context that constructs our presence as absence” (bell hooks 118). Similarly, Patricia Hill Collins examines objectifying portrayals of black men that reduce them to their body or genitalia in “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity” (Hill Collins 152-162). These media representations, or absence of representations, further oppress minorities by limiting viewers’ perceptions of them. If constantly present in the media, these objectifying images work to dehumanize the identities of the portrayed “oppressed group,” both in the eyes of the majority group and the minority groups. I can imagine these forms of oppression enhancing inner conflicts among individuals who feel as though their personal identity does not coincide with inaccurate media imagery. Therefore, in addition to the obvious conflict created between oppressor and the oppressed, I think oppression can create a sort of internal war among individuals that are labeled as oppressed.

Sources:
Patricia Hill Collins. “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.” 2004.
bell hooks. “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators.” 1992.