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ADVERTISING & SOCIETY REVIEW
Reflecting on Ethnic Imagery in the Landscape of Commerce, 1945-1975
Fath Davis Ruffins
Ruffins, Fath Davis. 1998. Reflecting on ethnic imagery in the landscape of commerce, 1945-1975. InGetting and Spending: European and American Consumer Societies in the Twentieth Century,ed. by Susan Strasser, Charles McGovern, and Matthias Judt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 379-406. Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Illustrations reprinted permission of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Between 1945 and 1975, Americans turned their nation into a global powerhouse of production and consumption, and their government bound together foreign policy success, consumerism, and domestic tranquillity in new and explicit ways. During World War II, the Office of War Information – in posters, billboards, pamphlets, and radio programs – had clearly linked the wartime sacrifices to the coming prosperity of the postwar years. The long-term effects of the G.I. Bills supporting veteran’s education, home ownership, and business aspirations trickled down even to Afro-Americans Mexican Americans.1By the early 1960s, many working-class Americans could own television sets, washing machines, and perhaps a Chevy or a Ford. During the Eisenhower presidency, growing consumerism at home was explicitly tied to the fight against communism abroad. At a joint trade fair in Moscow in 1959,Vice President Richard M. Nixon predicted to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that America would win the fight against communism with its refrigerators, toasters, and cars.2Prosperity and world hegemony were integrally connected in the postwar world.
Yet the same nation that was shown proceeding toward consumerist heaven in countless television commercials, Hollywood movies, and print advertisements was also riven by profound internal conflict, especially over questions of race and ethnicity. It was only the threat of a massive march on Washington that forced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802, which established the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPQ to investigate charges of discrimination in hiring by government and business. In 1948 the threat of a close presidential election forced President Harry S. Truman to issue Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the armed forces. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had agitated for just such actions for over a generation, and after World War II, its work began to pay off. From the late 1940s through the late 1950s, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that decreed desegregation in party primaries, public transportation, accommodations, and eventually education, most famously in the 1954 landmark decisionBrown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which mandated desegregation in American public schools “with all deliberate speed.” In 1955 the Afro-American community of Montgomery, Alabama, began its justly famous and successful bus boycott, which catapulted both Rosa Parks and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then a young man, to national attention. This bus boycott is widely seen today as the symbolic beginning of the modern civil rights movement that was to change American society dramatically over the next ten years.
With a wave of demonstrations, boycotts, and other forms of “direct action,” issues of race and equality hit the top of the domestic national agenda. In 1957, a conservative president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was forced to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect nine Afro-American children entering a previously whites-only high school. In 1963, the symbolic high water mark of the civil rights movement occurred during the March on Washington: a peaceful demonstration by 250,000 people on the Mall in support of the civil rights bill before Congress. As a result of this demonstration and Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, the Congress in 1964, passed the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination. In 1965 the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed all Americans the right to vote. These bills were signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Such concerns about the civil rights of Afro-Americans had not taken such a progressive tone on the national stage since the era of Reconstruction (1865-77). Indeed, many people during the early and mid-1960s labeled these years “The Second Reconstruction.”3One recent history of the period is Taylor Branch’sParting the Waters: America in the King Years(1988), reflecting the profound significance of these accomplishments for American society in the early Cold War era.
Yet there has been little investigation of the relationship between these serious domestic concerns regarding race and the simultaneous development of the United States as the preeminent consumerist society. One way to begin such an analysis is to ask: What difference did it make in the development of American consumerist practices and products that the United States was a heterogeneous society? How did American racial and ethnic beliefs and practices figure in producing, selling, and consuming goods after World War II? In what ways did the profound social dislocations around race and ethnicity during these years appear in the visualizations of American life embodied in advertising, public relations, and other forms of selling? This chapter is no more than an outline – a series of reflections – about the crucial intersections of growing consumerism and the emerging, conflicted consciousness of race and ethnicity that distinguished the first thirty years of the Cold War era.
Commercial imagery depicting distinctively American ideas about race and has a very long history. When colonial Virginians labeled their of tobacco with pictures of Indian chieftains or enslaved Africans working the fields, they were indicating the authenticity of their product as the “New World” – then producing the finest tobacco available. When antebellum printers published runaway ads and slave-sale announcements by the thousands, they depicted some of the key aspects of slavery as f buying and selling people as property. Thus, commercial imagery illustrating the complexities of race in America has a history virtually coextensive with the notion of “America” itself.
On first mention of the words “ethnic imagery,” many people think immediately of stereotypes. Certainly, commercial imagery before 1930 was rife with many images that would today be labeled stereotypical. Beginning in the 1830s, blackface minstrelsy imbued song, story, and the stage with a panoply of black characters: Jim Crow – the chicken-stealing country bumpkin; Zip Coon – the ridiculous citified dandy; De judge – a pompous ass given to malapropisms. These characters became staples of American humor itself, eventually appearing in silent films and the talkies.
Aunt Jemima is one of the best known and enduring trademarked images in the United States. Aunt Jemima was a fictitious character devised for selling a new kind of four-flour pancake mix in the 1890s. Introduced to a national market at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, Aunt Jemima and her superlight, easy-to-make pancake mix were an immediate hit. The woman hired to portray Aunt Jemima in person at the fair, Nancy Green, was reputed to have served more than 2 million pancakes to visitors. The company renamed itself after the character and the product itself bore her name. Over the years, this very successful company was purchased by ever larger corporations and today is part of Quaker Oats. The exact visualization of Aunt Jemima has changed drastically over the last hundred years. She began as an enormously fat, dark black woman with huge cheeks, nose, and super-white eyes whose face took up nearly the entire box. Today the, same red and white box exists, but Aunt Jemima is in an oval cameo set in a corner of the top. She no longer wears a kerchief and looks like a medium brown-skinned woman with glossy hair who could be a suburban grandmother.
The history of Aunt Jemima as a character is far too complex to detail here. Scores of scholarly articles and thousands of newspaper pieces have been written about her.4Aunt Jemima is quite simply an icon in American culture, although her meaning is deeply contested. As a visual type, Aunt Jemima was the best known of a whole genre of “Mammy” figures. Appearing widely in advertising during the 1880s, the Mammy character became a staple of song, legend, stage, and screen. Eventually, to evoke the “0ld South” of “moonlight and magnolias” required a Mammy figure. In the archetypal film of this subject,Gone With the Wind(1939), Hattie McDaniels portrayed such a powerful Mammy figure that she became the first (and many years the only) Afro-American woman to win an Academy Award.
Scholars are just beginning to plumb the meaning of these Mammy characters in white society, but already we can ascertain that the Mammy figure, appearing on greeting cards and in numerous sentimental forms, was one version of “the good mother” – uncritical, nuturing, warm, and embracing.
By the 1910s, some southerners began to call for a memorial to honor the Mammy figure. These efforts appeared all across the South and are collectively known as the Black Mammy Memorial movement, which resulted in the formation of an institute chartered for twenty years in Athens, Georgia. In 1923, the Daughters of the Confederacy proposed that a bronze memorial to honor the Mammy of the Old South be placed somewhere on the grounds of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Numerous Afro-Americans protested and effectively quashed the petition in the House of Representatives, although several congressional committees seriously considered the idea. Such sentiments underscored the deep vein of positive white sentiment that images of “the Mammy” tapped. The marketers of Aunt Jemima drew on prevailing notions about Afro-American women and comfort to their intended market of white consumers.
Because these images visually fixed Afro-American identity at a distinct low social, cultural, and economic level, many Afro-Americans had considerably more negative feelings about Aunt Jemima. In the late 1910s, the NAACP began to protest the use of this image. Before 1910, the fictitious Aunt Jemima was given a full-scale personal history by the Quaker Oats Company that showed her as a loyal slave, happy to serve her heroic Confederate masters, even after freedom came. Early Afro-American criticism of the image concentrated not only on the visual portrayal but also on this demeaning history. Yet fictitious story remained powerful to many non-Afro-Americans and was retold in many screen versions starting in the 1930s. By the 1950s, many Afro-Americans were calling Aunt Jemima an out-and-out stereotype. Black visual artists lampooned the character; feminist playwrights and poets satirized the image. By the 1970s, Aunt Jemima all by herself served as a handy symbol for the racial stereotyping of all Black Americans by racist white media.
Yet Aunt Jemima remains a brand name with recognition ratings consistently above 95 percent on many American marketing surveys. Such numbers suggest just why Quaker Oats has kept her on the box, despite many protests over the years. Even though most Americans today may feel degrees of discomfort with Aunt Jemima, enough positive regard exists that the company continues to update her image, but never to eliminate it. In 1995, television viewers were treated to a totally modernized advertisement in the form of the famous soul singer Gladys Knight, who was shown enjoying pancakes with her grandchildren in a model American kitchen. Quaker Oats had consulted Dr. Dorothy Height, longtime head of the esteemed National Council of Negro Women, before this marketing campaign. The company strategically placed significant stories in key Afro-American publications such asEssencemagazine as part of a well-orchestrated public relations effort. What is remarkable is the durability of this image. Aunt Jemima symbolized good eating and great pancakes to nineteenth-century Americans, and, though visually different, her image continues to function similarly for Americans today, even as many Afro-Americans have come to be included among and directly recognized as consumers. Such visually subtle shifts have occurred in only a small number of “stereotypical” images inherited from the last century. They make Aunt Jemima an especially enduring cultural symbol.
Not every broad ethnic image had the visual recognition and power of an Aunt Jemima. American trade cards, advertising posters, print ads, sheet music, and even greeting cards were filled with broad jokes about drunken Paddy the Irishman who was always looking for a fight and a pint, thieving Spaniards as pirates, cheating Jews selling less for more, and savage Indian killing settlers. Some of these stereotypes were more benign, such as Scotsmen who were always pinching a penny ever tighter, or Dutch children who were hyperclean, or Germans who were rotund and red-faced and holding beer steins. Many distinctive American ethnic groups were represented in specific and pejorative commercial images, especially before 1920. Yet stereotyping – though pervasive – was not the entire story of ethnic visualization.
Over the last century, in creating plausible scenarios for the use of particular products, many American companies depicted ethnic, racial, class distinctions as a matter of course. For example, in Figure 18.1, two women and two children are seen standing in a kitchen – a typical late nineteenth-century trade card advertising a cleanser.
Figure 18.1. Trade card, circa 1870-80. Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Used with permission.
The wide-faced blowzy “Bridget the Irish maid” is clearly the servant, and an Anglo-American woman is unquestionably the mistress of the household. The maid is demonstrating the effectiveness of the cleanser by showing the reflection of her round face in the bottom of the frying pan. Images such these gave visual life to contemporary intersections of class, ethnicity, and gender, even in the selling of low-cost domestic consumables. Although these representations depicted ethnicity, it was not the subject of the image. Rather, the overt text involved “expert” testimony as to the effectiveness of a particular product – a housemaid who had used many cleansers must know which one was the best! Rather, ethnicity appeared only because the category “Bridget the Irish maid” was a distinctive classification of the time. Far more American representations of ethnicity presented this kind of subtle story than the overt, more stereotypical elements, especially in the case of European immigrants who evolved into American ethnic groups.
American commercial imagery also depicted how to live in a heterogeneous society. Especially during the 1890s, American producers began to picture the “races of the world” united in their consumption of American products. Thousands of images were created for world fairs, particularly the Columbian Exposition of 1893-4 in Chicago, Illinois. Figure 18.2 shows one version of the “nations of the world” around Uncle Sam, the premier emblem of America, who is shown demonstrating the Enterprise meat grinder.
Figure 18.2 Trade Card, the World’s Fair of 1893. Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Used with permission.
All the world could be united in their expression of consumer choice. In fact, a number of “races” in this image could not at that time become literal citizens of the United States. Neither the “Chinaman” with his long queue nor the “Indian” in his savage garb could be an American citizen in the 1890s, but these political realities were elided in the depiction of their virtual equality as consumers.
More problematic were American visualizations of the blending and borrowing that naturally occur in a multiethnic society. “Interracial” relationships began symbolically with figures such as Pocahontas in Jamestown in the early 1610s. For complex reasons that are beyond the scope of this essay to detail, the United States developed a segregated society in which racial groups were seen as rigid, either/or monoliths. One drop of “Negro blood”, was believed to make a person black through and through. Unlike in the rest of the Americas, United States laws and practices denied the varied skin colors, facial features, hair textures, and other elements that revealed the sexual realities of interethnic contact. Blackface minstrelsy was literally a denial of the physiological differences among Afro-Americans. Black entertainers struggled for many years to tear away this mask of sameness. However, the depiction of some other American blended peoples was more subtle, both visually and conceptually.
In British North America, the original version of this archetypal story was that of Pocahontas. A child when the English first arrived in what, became Jamestown, Virginia, Pocahontas eventually married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and went to England, where she bore several children and then died young (as did many women of that time). The fact of her marriage (and by implication the arrival of their children) was often shown symbolically to be the birth of “America.” Ironically, Pocahontas’s story had become the myth of a new American face since by the late eighteenth century, in this narrative, English pioneers had absorbed – literally – the royalty of the original peoples and had produced the American race whose manifest destiny it was to conquer the continent. Such themes had and continue to have tremendous power as a key patriotic fixture in the visual representation of the American mythos. Numerous posters for world’s fairs, especially those in the West, celebrated this notion of the joining of Europeans and Indians. In the United States, the sexual implications of this metaphor were underplayed in comparison to those in imagery from Mexican or Brazilian sources of the same era. “Interracial” romantic and sexual bonding was deeply troubling as a narrative and yet embedded in American practice.5
Like Aunt Jemima, Pocahontas became an American narrative with tremendous staying power. 1995, the Disney company released its most recent version of the Pocahontas story with a full-scale production, including a hit song performed by the first Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams, and a full range of toys, clothes, games, and collectibles for children from McDonald’s. Now available on video, this animated film shows a luscious womanly Pocahontas falling in love with a brawny, blond, blue-eyed Englishman named Captain John Smith, the essential “founder” of this first British colony in the Americas.
Over the course of the twentieth century, other symbols have been advanced that metaphorized positive, liberal notions of a multiethnic America. By the turn of the century, “melting pot” had emerged as the most widely used metaphor. Werner Sollers has now documented that the term “melting pot” first became widely used as a result of a 1908 play by Israel Zangwill depicting the complications involved in Jewish-Catholic marriage.6The children of immigrant parents, a young Jewish man and a young Irish Catholic woman, fall in love and marry. Their fathers are horrified, but a partial rapproachment occurs in a touching Christmas moment. This image reflects a new version of a narrative about “blending.” InThe Melting Pot, Zangwill showed the marriage of two children of a much more recent immigration – not the founding fathers and Indian maidens of the Pocahontas story. Sollers has argued tha the myth of immigration has replaced the original colonial myth as the metanarrative of contemporary American nationalism. The shift from the blended metaphors of Pocahontas and the blond John in Jamestown to the children of Ellis Island has happened largely since World War II.
Perhaps the greatest shift in the metanarrative of the United States reflects the transformation that immigration made in American life with the emergence of a network of immigrant suppliers for many new sets of American consumers. Immigration introduced new products, new consumers, and international marketing networks for the importers of foodstuffs, beverages, candies, liquors, clothes, religious objects, and music of all kinds. All of these products were dispensed by distinct purveyors. By the turn of the century, Jewish and Arab peddlers crisscrossed not only cities but also the American countryside; Italian wine makers found markets in Minnesota; and Italian olive-oil importers were in every major American city. Not only were kosher Jewish bakers selling bagels, gefilte fish, and other foods to Orthodox communities, but nonreligious Jewish delicatessen owners were marketing all kinds of new cheeses, cured meats and fish to both individual consumers and restaurants. The terms “Jewish deli” and “Jewish rye bread” appeared as names of businesses or types of foods in many parts of theUnited States. Making foods from the “Old Country” that could be consumed by native-born Americans made those immigrants seem more acceptable, more consumable, more assimilable, even as overt discrimination continued against immigrant groups.
Many Chinese families and single men were engaged in restaurant and other food related businesses, such as noodle factories and sauce making companies. But such activities were deeply shaped by the Chinese Exclusion Acts of the 1880s, which created “bachelor societies.” Certain types of food, such as “chow mein” and “chop suey,” were alleged to have been created solely for the white market in Chinatowns, an early destination for tourism in large cities. Some images were created to sell products that had originated in specific ethnic experiences, defined by religious practices, national origins, and language – such as kosher merchants selling to European Orthodox Jews. Other images were created to develop a wide market outside the immediate communities, as with the Chinese restaurant business.
The tremendous growth of distinctive ethnic communities in cities and suburbs across America greatly widened the array of commercial imagery by opening up new markets for small- and then large-scale entrepreneurs. Much historical attention has been focused on understanding the advertising and marketing strategies of large-scale American businesses and discerning the ways in which their corporate agendas have shaped the development of new markets, new cultural practices, and new national images. But on a local and regional scale, American businesses (often with an explicitly ethnic character) also produced images and products for new markets. These new businesses arrayed themselves along a cultural spectrum from “keeping all the old ways” to purveying the newest, shiniest, most “assimmilated” American object, but to an ethnically defined neighborhood clientele. The visions they created of their consumers and for their new products help construct the now archetypal “old neighborhoods” in many American cities and imaginations.7
In this process of building ethnic businesses – defined either through product, the ownership of the business, and/or the clientele served – ethic imagery began to be constructed as the “authentic” imagery of America. During the 1930s, many ethnic businesses marketed themselves as different from and in contrast to the homogenized, “white bread” imagery of large scale food manufacturers like Kraft or Campbell Soups. Small-scale businesses such as Chef Boyardee canned soups and stews (started by the Boiardi family) or Unanue and Sons (which later became Goya Foods, Inc.) so their customers a taste of the “Old Country.”
By the 1950s, many of the smaller, family-owned businesses had been sold by their original owners to such major American corporations as General Foods, General Mills, Pepsi-Cola, and Kraft. In many cases, however, these corporate producers still emphasized aspects of the ethnic origins of the products. For example, a 1964 television ad for Betty Crocker Rice Milanese shows a woman walking home from the market through old-time cobbled streets, listening to a man play a cello.8Children are playing with a soccer ball; at this time soccer was coded as an immigrant game. We see a thin, model-like brunette walking up the ivy-covered, stone stairs to her home, which is clearly somewhere in Europe. The voice-over says: “In Italy, women still shop and cook in the old-fashioned way.” You see a close-up of the woman wearing a blue-black dress with white pearls and a pearl bracelet. She takes all of the ingredients needed for the dish out of her shopping, basket – tomatoes, rice, onions, green peppers, spices, and cheese. The voice-over says, “Betty Crocker – it’s all in the box! Even the Parmesan! And it is as good as if you made it the old Italian way!” Here ethnicity is used to authenticate the product being sold. The Old World setting and ways of cooking produced great results, but the modern American homemaker needed a quicker method. The Betty Crocker product was sold as a solution to that dilemma, while maintaining authenticity of taste.9
Warren Belasco and Harvey Levenstein have written of the shifts in American food patterns over the course of the twentieth century. From the Edwardian era to the Kennedy presidency (1961-3), elaborate formal dinners were based on either or both English common customs and French haute cuisine. But in 1996, the quintessential American cuisine is now principally made up of foods that originated in particular ethnic communities.10Bagels, pizza, doughnuts, fried chicken, gumbo, and egg rolls – now staples even of fast food restaurants – all have a distinctive ethnic origin. In the 1980s, numerous theme-oriented franchised restaurants opened, such as Bennigans or T. G . I. Fridays, which offered enormous menus made up of various ethnic foods, sold within the visual context of a late nineteenth-century Irish saloon. The advertising for these food products, no matter how commercially processed, purveyed some sense of that ethnic origin. The irony of the setting, food choices, and franchised environment is probably lost on many contemporary Americans, who may not be old enough remember the “Old Neighborhood” anyway. Especially in food products, but in other consumer categories as well, ethnicity began to be a metaphor for authenticity in the 1930s and remains a powerful subtext even sixty years later.
The visual rhetoric created for World War II and the peace that followed produced a sea change in American commercial imagery in many ways and on many subjects, but especially in relation to ethnicity. The Office of War Information and a number of corporations portrayed the war effort through posters, bond rallies, sheet music, and postcards. The war created unusual alliances, as attested to by a piece of sheet music, “Favorite Songs of the Red Army and Navy,” all done up in red, white, and blue, with a foreword by Paul Robeson (1898-1976).11
During World War II, Robeson may well have been the most famous living African American in the world. He was an actor, a concert artist, and an activist for human rights on the world stage. Robeson was famous for appearing in many countries and performing in concerts in which he sang Negro spirituals, European “classical” concert songs, and usually some folk songs in the language of the country in which he was appearing. He was a true internationalist and unquestionably associated with Communist circles. For the first time, during World War II, multiethnic groups of American “fighting men” appeared on American posters and even in the movies. Even radical integrationists such as Paul Robeson could speak on Buy Bond platforms for the American war effort as well as support the working people of the world, even in the Soviet Union. All this was in stark contrast to the official images of World War I, which featured tall, straight, blond-haired,, blue-eyed mothers and sons in Christian pietistic positions of sacrifice and noble images of martial fortitude. Fighting a propaganda war against the Third Reich forced the American government and some major corporations to represent an America that looked different from the Nazi imagery. This 1930s imagery bore a remarkable and uncomfortable similarity to American images from World War I.
The numerous paperback covers of Norman Mailer’s classic World War II novelThe Naked and the Deadfeatured a multiethnic platoon, much like those in the postwar films in which Frank Sinatra starred. During World War II, Bill Mauldin’s famous G.I. cartoons, stateside comic strips, and even postwar films showed men who looked awfully ethnic by comparison to World War I images of Yankees. In themselves, these official visualizations of identifiably ethnic individuals as Americans were completely new. Yet the changes in images of Afro-Americans were even more striking.
World War II was the first time that an African American was portrayed as an American hero by the United States government. The heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis was featured in a number of generic government-sponsored war-effort and “buy bond” posters. Known as “the Brown Bomber” and shown in a variety of poses, including one with a rifle and bayonet, Joe Louis embodied the proud Afro-American veteran, whose real experience in the segregated armed forces was quite different from that of the posters. Having first lost to the German boxer Max Schmeling, Louis triumphed in a comeback victory in 1938. Louis’s win underscored the social significance and symbolic meaning of boxing as a sport in the 1930s and 1940s, as it made him a perfect symbol of a rejuvenated America. In this modern age of consumerism, not only were businesses marketing products ,but the government also needed to sell images, ideologies, and the vision of a renewal of American life.
Eventually, Dorie Miller, an Afro-American navy mess-man, who was one of the few Americans to fire any shots at Pearl Harbor, was also used in government propaganda. Such images were token steps, but they were especially significant to Afro-American men and women of this ear. The Office of War Information produced two war films in order to gain Afro-American support for the war. On its release, initially only to the armed forces,Negro Soldiersbecame an instant hit. Recut after the war and released stateside, this film exposed hundreds of thousands of Americans to the stories of Afro-American men who had fought in every American war. (The Civil War was tactfully left out.)12After 1945, and especially after 1960, the “mainstream” advertising world looked very different and the highly segmented, but national, “minority” markets had exploded in ways unimaginable earlier.
In short, commercial representations of ethnicity changed after World War II in three significant ways: First, “middle-class” minority market segments emerged, often through new advertising venues like nationally available ethnic magazines. Second, old stereotypes were protested by newly energized political activity on the part of previously unnoticed “minority” communities. Third, expressions of ethnic diversity surfaced in print and on television to help America visualize a desegregated society.
During the 1940s, integration was a dangerous, rebellious, marginalized activity, seen as part of a Bohemian or “Beat” life-style. In the 1950s, when the Highlander Folk School in North Carolina began to sponsor interracial s and Gandhian discussion groups, they received death threats and harrassment from local authorities. But by 1969, companies such as Coca-Cola began to depict a desegregated America as an expression of social cohesion and wholeness in the face of the disorders of the Vietnam era. By the late1960s, even the government of the United States started to rely on such imagery to sell an increasingly unpopular war to prospective American soldiers and their families. All of these changes occurred within the first thirty years after World War II ended. Although there was not another world war during this time, the United States was engaged in small “hot wars” all over the globe in its effort to fight communism on every front. Imagery emerged from governmental and business sources that would have been unthinkable only a decade earlier.
The first thirty years of the Cold War were also the “golden era” of Black magazines. Whereas Afro-American newspapers had existed since the 1820s, national newsmagazines were quite new, as Afro-American entrepreneurs in the decade after World War II invested in glossy publications patterned onLifeandLook. Ironically, these mainstream magazines were faltering and losing their markets to television throughout the 1950s an 1960s. The most successful of the Black publishing entrepreneurs was John Johnson, who in 1945 established Johnson Publications in Chicago. Since its founding, Johnson Publications has printed dozens of magazines an books and has even supported some television and film productions, such “Tony Brown’s Journal.” Johnson himself has become the patriarch of Afro-American media. But Afro-American life had yet to be portrayed in significant way on television. The gossip about Afro-American Hollywood celebrities, politicians, and ministers could not be found in the pages of most local, historically white newspapers. The homes of the ever-wide groups of Afro-American professionals and their children were not yet featured in mainstream publications.
Two key publications were the core of Johnson’s publishing success:EbonyandJet. These are two distinct yet related magazines. Although each has changed its format over the last few decades,Ebonywas meant to (and continues to be) a full-service news, information, and entertainment periodical. Feature stories every year included articles about the camp of historically black colleges and universities: their homecomings, their sororities and fraternities, their presidents, and their building programs. Major articles focused on Afro-American film, television, and music personalities. Virtually everyone was portrayed in as positive a light as possible and extensive photo treatments featured the commodities and accoutrements of celebrity life-styles. The Johnsons themselves became featured and prominent Afro-American guests in the Kennedy and Johnson White Houses. Johnson Publishing became such an empire that some employees developed their own followings, such as the gossip columnist Gerri Majors and the famed photographer of the civil rights movement Moneeta Sleet Jr. Johnson’s wife founded theEbony Fashion Fairin the early 1960s to provide a luxurious setting for Afro-American designers and models to showcase their talents, which were often overlooked by the profoundly racist fashion world of the time. For the last thirty years, theEbony Fashion Fairhas also identified a network of black women around the country willing to pay for haute cuisine, designer jewelry, and expensive cosmetics.
Johnson was brilliant at pointing to a market major advertisers had not yet seen: the black middle class. By identifying Afro-Americans with disposable incomes nationwide, Johnson shrewdly perceived that he could fund his publication by going to major advertisers such as Pepsi-Cola, Xerox, General Motors, and American Telephone and Telegraph to suggest that they could spend millions of dollars in advertising. Millions of dollars were needed to keep a four-color glossy magazine in print, and Johnson succeeded withEbonyby effectively courting a black audience with his subject matter and reliably delivering a new key group of consumers to his advertisers. By comparison,Jetwas (and is) a small-scale gossip publication. Apparently, subscriptions and over-the-counter sales support the magazine, asJetcontains very little advertising.13In this publication, Johnson effectively appealed to his ethnic core clientele. An important marketing tool forJetwas the presence in every issue of a centerfold of a shapely Afro-American woman wearing a bathing suit. Johnson has often said that this device increased the sale ofJeteightfold. Consequently, he has never removed this element, despite criticism at times from various quarters of black community. For a magazine the size of a large note card, but slick with black-and-white photos and a color cover,Jetpacked a big punch. This was the place to read about the dirt on black celebrities that would not appear in Ebony until it had first appeared in court. According to a 1996 Yankelovich survey,EbonyandJetremain the two primary sources of news information for Afro-Americans, followed in close order by other, younger Afro-American publications such asEssenceandEmerge, a testament to the staying power of these niche publications.14
Ebony, Jet, and other publications pointed to new avenues for advertising and marketing. In the 1950s, for the first time, Afro-American-oriented and -owned advertising agencies appeared, such as those founded by Ed McBain and Barbara Proctor in Chicago. In the late 1960s, Byron Lewis founded Uniworld and Frank Mingo, and Carolyn Jones founded Mingo-Jones in New York.15These publications and advertising agencies aided in the growing segmentation of American marketing by directly identifying and selling to a national clientele with a key level of disposable income. Johnson paved the way for a large number of Afro-American publications and identified , means of reaching a key market segment for major American advertisers, just as teenagers and working women were newly discovered markets in the 1950s, the Afro-American middle class began to be explored as a market niche.
Following the pathway paved by Johnson, a number of successful magazines that emerged in the 1970s were directed to even more specific segments of the Black market. Ed Lewis foundedEssence, a magazine for young Black women, in 1970 with the financial help of Playboy, Inc. Earl Graves Sr., a former FBI agent, establishedBlack Enterprise, a magazine devoted to Black people in business and to Black entrepreneurs in 1974 with significant support from the Kennedy clan. Both magazines were launched as (and remain) glossy, four-color publications with national car, major appliance, travel, credit card, and other advertising – especially for cigarettes liquor, for which they have been sharply criticized. They are available at most stores in or near predominantly Afro-American neighborhoods. All are available by subscription as well, and their circulation figures indicate subscriber loyalty.
The images in the advertising and illustrations in these publications have long been the subject of controversy within Afro-American communities In later decades, the magazines founded in the 1940s and 1950s were criticized for promoting a kind of class hierarchy based on skin color. Some people believed these magazines gave more attention to entertainers and professionals with lighter skin and more aquiline or European features, Others believed that darker-skinned people were photographed so as appear lighter, or that their skin tone was deliberately lightened by photographic techniques. Such criticisms reached an intellectual peak with the, publication ofBlack Bourgeoisie(1957) by the noted Howard University sociologist E. Franklin Frazier. An entire literature in journalism and communications schools has grown up around the analysis of such images. Although Black magazines served their communities by making Black news front page, they portrayed a narrow vision of ideal attractiveness with class implications. The continuing controversy about skin color highlights how difficult it can be to interpret the meaning of images ethnic communities generate about themselves.
In addition to the discovery of new markets (for example, Pepsi-Cola advertised in the pages ofEbony), major corporations were forced to realize new political and economic constituencies had emerged. As with Afro-American veterans’ families, Hispanic veterans and their families in Texas and along the borders of the American Southwest benefited to some degree from the G.I. programs of World War II and the Korean War. Immigration from Mexico and other parts of Latin America had surged after the closing of eastern and southern European immigration in the 1920s. Although usually encouraged to become migrant workers rather than settled immigrants, Mexican in-migrants and Mexican Americans became far more economically visible in the years after 1955.
The growing consumerist political power of Mexican Americans was first demonstrated on a national scale by the boycott surrounding the Frito Bandito campaign in 1968-71. By the late 1960s, Fritos had existed for a generation. Elmer Dolin bought the recipe for Fritos in 1933 from an unnamed Mexican American in San Antonio, Texas, a center of Mexican business at the time. In the apocryphal story Elmer Dolin visited a small Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, where presumably he first tasted corn tortillas, perhaps in strips on a soup. He had an “ah-hah” experience and began to think about how to produce a corn chip commercially. (Perhaps he grew up in Texas and had the “eureka” moment when he decided to start a business) After several attempts, “Fritos” were born.
Similar to pizza, hot dogs, and other fast food staples, Fritos were based on some interpretation of an ethnicized food product. However, by reshaping the corn tortilla to make it a chip and by giving it a distinctive name and packaging, the Frito Company wholly owned this product and could and license it. Fritos, likeVelveeta and other processed food products, characterized the largest segment of the branded post-World War II years. 1961, two years after Dolin’s death, the Frito Company merged H.W. Lay & Company. Herman Lay ran a larger salted snack foods one that marketed and sold potato chips and similar products. Within business circles, Lay was famous for his “store-door” distribution system and the care with which he trained his men to arrange displays in supermarkets and other shops. His marketing genius, combined with this fully trademarkable product, had great success in the 1950s. “Munch a Bunch of Fritos” was one of the company’s slogans for much of this time. The company also ran memorable television ad campaigns featuring the old vaudeville actor Bert Lahr, famous as the Cowardly Lion in the filmWizard of Oz(1939). In 1965, Pepsi-Cola purchased Frito-Lay to form PepsiCo.
PepsiCo decided to reintroduce Fritos with a jazzy new campaign. Fritos had an interesting marketing history in that ads for it would clearly increase sales of that product alone and not generally rise and fall with the sale of other salted snack foods. Fritos’ very clear product niche was attractive to Pepsi-Cola, which was growing and diversifying into a megacorporation.
In 1968, Frito-Lay began to use the “Frito Bandito” in television, and print advertising. Initially, Mexican banditos had appeared in Anglo-American literature, beginning with dime novels in the 1850s that elevated, the border war in Texas (1846-8) to heroic status. “Remember the Alamo!” is only the most famous slogan to appear from the patriotic sacralizations; of the Mexican-American War. Mexican banditos reemerged in both silent and talking Hollywood films, especially after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. By the early 1960s, banditos were a small staple of cartoons, children’s programs, and occasional television ads. For example, in 1964, General, Motors produced a television ad to promote its new sports car, the Buick Wildcat. We see a lone cowboy with sideburns in denim jeans and jacket driving the Wildcat through the open desert. The voice-over begins: “What does it take to be a Buick? It takes a car as wild and wonderful as Buick”. Wildcat 1964.” Along with the cowboy we see three Mexican banditos, equipped with huge hats, pistolleros wrapped around their chests, and long rifles appearing to the side of the car. They point their guns. Speaking in an intentionally unintelligible Spanish, they force the car to stop and motion for the cowboy to get out. They brandish their rifles but then are completely distracted by the gizmos, the sliding windows, the adjustable mirror, and other accoutrements, so that the unarmed cowboy is able to climb back into the car. He drives off with flair, rolling up his convertible hood as he goes. The voice-over states: “When you go the way of the Wildcat – It’s the wildest! And above all, It’s a Buick!”16General Motors ran that advertisement for at least a year without any noticeable resistance.
Presumably, Frito-Lay thought that they had a safe mascot when they introduced the Frito Bandito in 1968. The commercials were animated, an important distancing mechanism that was commonly used in television commercials in the early and mid-1960s. The Bandito stole people’s corn chips and caused everyone who tasted Fritos to grow a long pencil-thin mustache, like his own. Wearing a sombrero and shooting his six-guns, the
Frito Bandito spoke with a heavy accent and robbed to get Fritos. Produced by Foote, Cone, and Belding, the concept was expanded into print in 1969. Perhaps the high point of this campaign was reached around the time the successful moon landing of 1969. In a new commercial, the astronautslanded on the moon only to discover the Frito Bandito there as a parking attendant. Of course, to park their moon vehicle, the astronauts needed to give him Fritos, which they happened to have handy.
Initially, this image met with little protest. But by 1969, a group of Hollywood figures, including Ricardo Montalban, had formed the Mexican American Anti- Defamation Committee, the organization of which was patterned on the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and other integrationist organizations. Spearheaded by DJs at Los Angeles radio station KNBC, protests began and a nationwide boycott was threatened.17
However, as with Aunt Jemima, the Frito Bandito had extraordinarily name recognition and PepsiCo released information stating its polls proved most Mexican Americans were not offended by the ads. Yet by 1971,PepsiCo’s subsidiary Frito-Lay backed down. It retired the Frito Bandito, despite dramatically increased sales. The Frito Bandito controversy proved the growing ability of previously ignored ethnic communities to flex their economic muscle, following the example of the boycotts of segregated stores and businesses during the civil rights movement. Such successful protest campaigns made more and more major companies sensitive to the problem of ethnic stereotyping in ways that had been unthinkable few years before.
Food was not the only big product category to have a strong ethnic component. In the years following World War II, many different kinds of American music leapt onto the record charts. Rock and roll, rhythm and blues (later called soul music), and gospel music surged out of Afro-American communities. Mambo, rumba, and salsa music poured from Cuban-American, Mexican-American, and other Latino neighborhoods. In the mid-1960s, a craze for “bubble gum music” from Brazil swept the nation, epitomized by the Latin jazz group Sergio Mendez and Brasil ’66 and the Antonio Carlos Jobim song “The Girl from Ipanema” (1963). This song alone continues to evoke an absolutely specific moment in the popular musical experience of older members of the Vietnam generation.
Perhaps the richest, most complex source of illustrations of ethnicity were jazz album covers, which changed dramatically after World War II. In the 1930s, most album covers were rather simple designs, influenced by various “modernist,” internationalist design aesthetics. A jazz album cover often purely typological, with the name of the artist or group highlighted and contrasting bands of color placed in a pattern of geometric shapes. After the war, in part because of changes in printing technologies, black and white photographs (and eventually color) could be reproduced effectively at lower cost. Record albums and sheet music covers began to sport photographic images, and designers were no longer limited to drawn or stenciled formats.
These jazz record covers showed a complex and radically integrated world in a still widely segregated American society. Black men and white women, black women and white men were curled together on the covers of these albums. More overt expressions of adult sexuality – such as sensuous evening clothes or the suggestive positioning of a fur wrap on an empty chair – could be pictured. Even more radically, white women could be shown on these covers enraptured by the jazz music they heard. Photographs of unsmiling jazz musicians began to grace the covers of albums by labels such as Blue Note and Verve, in conscious contrast to the eye-popping, widely smiling publicity pictures of the kings of the swing era, such as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and even Duke Ellington. Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and others wanted to deemphasize entertainment and elevate seriousness of purpose. Jazz was serious music and only the strong of heart need apply for membership in the clubhouse of jazz. These notions perhaps reached their height when Lester Bowie, noted trumpet player for the Art Ensemble of Chicago, began to appear on stage in the 1970s wearing a white lab coat. What could be more serious than science?
As an entertainment format, jazz changed dramatically during the 1940s and 1950s. The kings of the swing era were still playing. However, younger musicians were revolutionizing the sounds of certain instruments such as the saxophone and widening the parameters of composition and interpretation. But these same musicians were also associated with a bluesy netherworld of drugs, drink, interracial sex, and “unstable” opinions. This world of the “hipster” was celebrated by the Beat writers, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and epitomized by the tragic-comic talent Lenny Bruce. In a book that can now be called a classic of American ethnic literature, Norman Mailer published “The White Negro” inDissentin 1957, elaborating on his and other white men’s efforts to become even a little bit as cool as the hippest black cats. The dustcovers for this work and for those of Leroi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, and other black writers reflected changing sensibilities about the images of Americans.
These new images were used to promote records and books that gave vision to an alternative, even countercultural America. Not all jazz images related to black people. For example, this was also the era of Frank Sinatra’s greatest fame. He was clearly promoted as an Italian American and “tough guy,” whose alleged Mafia connections added to his “dangerous” quality as a superstar of American music. The Blue Note record company routinely used the blue motif on virtually all its album covers. Although the specific tone of blue changes with the artist and the setting, the album covers literally visualized the pensive, melancholy, contemplative, and erotic aspect of “the blues” and blues-influenced jazz. Jazz album covers showed white jazz listeners and ranged from elaborate, sophisticated “high-class settings” with men in tuxedos and women in furs, to black and blue silhouettes of sylphlike models in leotards and tights embodying the Bohemian/Beat women who listened to a different, more radical kind of jazz. The marketing and blended cultural performances associated with rock have been analyzed at great length. Yet these subtle portraits of jazz composers and musicians are also known the world over, especially in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Asia. Many jazz musicians spent f the early Cold War as expatriates in Western Europe, especially Paris, and conducted their disquisitions on life at a great remove from the profound problems of being black in America. Their edgy portraits of desegregated jazz clubs were at odds with much of American life in the which they were produced. The album covers remain unusually vigorous, yet market-driven testaments to the intricacies of image production in postmodern consumerist America.
From the end of World War II and throughout the Vietnam War years, visual narratives about race and ethnicity became ever more visible in the mainstream commercial landscape. In some cases, such as the Frito Bandito fiasco, these issues broke to the surface as protest from heretofore ignored consumers over a long disliked stereotype. Certain marginalized, yet exotic segments of American cultural practice, such as the international jazz underground of the 1940s through the 1960s, could be sold to larger audiences than ever before.
By about 1969, a number of mainstream American corporations realized that in order to appeal to the widest segment of American society, their products should be associated with nonracist imagery.18After starring in the hit prime time program, “I Spy,” Bill Cosby became the primary television spokesperson for Jell-O. Having first achieved fame as a stand-up comedian in the early 1960s with a hilarious series of comedy albums about childhood, Bill Cosby was featured in dozens of commercials with multiethnic groups of children. Dazzling in his improvisation, Cosby joked with multi-ethnic groups of kids in outrageous child-oriented scenarios that later became part of the “Sesame Street” routine. Eventually, Cosby went on to become a spokesperson for Ford, Merrill Lynch, cigars, and a whole host of other products, all the while sustaining a prime time television career as a lead actor, director, and producer of the 1980s hit about the Huxtable family “The Bill Cosby Show.”
By the early 1970s,American television was awash with images of togetherness. Perhaps the most memorable commercial of this era dates from 1969. Coca-Cola introduced its new musical slogan “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” The ads showed a lovely group of middle-American white kids singing, “I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love.” The second image shows a multiethnic group of people singing, “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” For the first time, the viewers see a group in which some people appear to be Indochinese. Again the orchestra swells and a larger group sings,” I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” The camera zooms over an impossibly green grassy mountain somewhere in Western Europe. The viewer sees several hundred people in different kinds of ethnic or national dress singing the main them The Coca-Cola emblem flashes. Then a male voice says, “On a hilltop in Italy, Coca-Cola assembled people from all over the world to bring this message to you.”19Throughout the 1970s, major food giants, such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, featured these sorts of scenes For the first time in American broadcast history, America was visualized as a place made up of people of different colors and facial feature whose ancestors originated from all across the globe. Such warm and sentimental images of togetherness and family spirit became icons in and of themselves, In the 1970s, a new slang phrase, “a Kodak moment” entered the American vernacular to describe in real life these moments of manufactured inclusion.
During the 1970s, images of an America composed of all the peoples of the functioned to draw attention away from the vicious racial breaking out all along the American landscape. From the black-out riots in New York in 1964 and the Watts riot in Los Angeles in 1965, to the even larger “urban rebellions” of 1968 in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., to the white riots against busing in northern cities in the 1970s, America was aflame with the fires of racial agitation, police brutality, and anticolonialist rhetoric. All the Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Kodak commercials about togetherness attempted to represent an ethnically integrated American society precisely at the time many people began to lose hope in such a prospect. All of these unwittingly ironic narratives about ethnicity came together problematically in the advertising imagery and commercial ephemera of the Vietnam era. The newest dramatic visual type in Madison Avenue’s vocabulary was “the Asian child.”
The long history of images of Asian Americans is much too detailed to investigate here. Suffice it to say that in the United States these “orientalist” patterns of representation had focused on nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants, especially men; on exotic, erotic Japanese women, as in Giacomo Puccini’s operaMadame Butterfly(1904); and on various Hawaiian and Filipino populations, especially after the Spanish-American War of 1896-8. For much of this time, the mainstream and more stereotypical images reflected a conflation of Asian immigrants and native-born Asian cans, which assumed tragic social proportions with the internment of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans from the West Coast during War II. An extensive literature documents this episode, as does a major exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, “A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the Constitution.”
The constantly shifting interests and politics of the United States during the Cold War required frequent changes in the propaganda of the national government and other conservative business forces. For example, during World War II China, under General Chiang Kai-Shek, was the American ally and Japan, under Air Admiral Hirohito, was the American enemy. Even such banal ephemera as bubble-gum cards depicted horrific battles like “The Rape of Nanking,” condemning the evil Japanese and ennobling the heroic Chinese in their martyrdom. But the Communist Revolution in China (1949) changed all that. Aside from touching off a set of major witch hunts in Hollywood, in the State Department, and around the country, these changes complicated the ethnic portrayals of Asians. Suddenly the Japanese people became America’s “little brother” and the Chinese were the evil empire. Armed-forces posters showed American flyers giving Asian (presumably Japanese) boys candy and tours of the plane.20This dichotomy between good and evil became even more tortuous during the Korean during which the North Koreans were the “bad guys” and the Americans went in to save the South Koreans. Even these distinctions ultimately imploded under the weight of the Vietnam War and the resistance to it. At first, it seemed possible to distinguish between the “good” SouthVietnamese and the “bad” North Vietnamese, but as the war engulfed the entire country and inflamed the United States, these neat distinctions collapsed.
Meanwhile, the record of national televised advertising in the 1960 reveals an increasing fascination with Asian and Asian-American faces, particularly those of children. The famous 1960s print and television campaign in New York City “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s [bread]; usually featured a multiethnic group of Americans. However, the television commercials often began by showing a child with Asian features or sometimes an old man in a Japanese kimono. These Asians (the old man) or Asian Americans (the young boy) could stand as an icon for the “newest’ and therefore the least-expected example of a satisfied non-Jewish customer for this sliced bread (not bagel). By the early 1970s, Jell-O, Coca Cola, and McDonald’s television commercials routinely began to include children with Asian-looking hair and features as part of multiethnic group, Visions of an integrated America tended to feature Asian, black, and Anglo children, reflecting, if unconsciously, the classic racial typologies agreed on by many anthropologists and biologists in the 1890s.21
As the need for troops increased along with resistance to the draft, American armed forces were forced to keep changing their pitches. In World War II, Joe Louis and others were used to boost the wartime work and spirits of Afro-American troops. However, they were not used on recruiting posters nationwide, perhaps because Negroes could not yet stand as icons for the sacred armed services, dominated as they were by unreconstructed white southerners. Rather, these images testified to the changes that some Americans anticipated in the postwar world. The multicultural recruiting poster of the Vietnam era performed a different function. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the government had to emphasize the positive aspects of military service in order to encourage working-class American without hope of deferment to find some dignity in the (nearly inevitable) draft. During the Vietnam War, black men were portrayed for the time in recruitment posters and in television ads nationwide. The quality of these advertisements shifted significantly over the long decade of the Vietnam. War (1964-75).
In 1964, the army, navy, marines, and air force were all running competing commercials on national television encouraging men to join up. These commercials were quite long (some more than two minutes) and emphasized acquiring technical know-how, making money for your family, seeing the world and expressing your patriotism. Such commercials often resolved into a display of the flag and other red, white, and blue symbols while flashing GO NAVY or some such clear-cut directive. From the mid-1960s into the mid-1980s, the U.S. Army had a single advertising agency, N. W Ayer, whose client proof sheets from the 1890s to the 1970s are in the National Museum of American History.
Through a series of long-running commercials, Ayer portrayed the army variously as a place to become a man and a place to have adventures. At the height of the Vietnam War, the most common television recruiting images showed American men of all colors helping to build new houses in Southeast Asia, aiding a wounded child, or perhaps erecting a dike to hold back a flooding river. These representations depicted a military career as an opportunity to help people around the world. Images of the brutal war of attrition then being waged across Indochina were excluded from this advertising, although highly visible on the evening news programs of the very same television stations.
A careful and systematic investigation of how the American government advertised its armed forces to multiethnic Americans riven by racial conflict remains to be written. Fortunately, the resources required for such an investigation are now beginning to become available as television and advertising materials from the 1960s and 1970s entering university libraries and collections. By examining how the federal government visualized an integrated America while it waged a “hot war” in Southeast Asia, it is to see all the threads of ethnicity – as authenticity, as danger, and as nationhood – combined to form the complicated web that continues to be America.
Fath Davis Ruffinsis an historian at Museum of American History, a part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Since 1988, she has been the head of the Museum’s collection of advertising history, which includes American ephemera dating from the 1680s through the present. She has published numerous scholarly articles, been curator of many museum exhibitions, and lectured at universities around the country on various aspects consumption and ethnicity in America.
1.Over time, people of African descent within the United States have changed how they wished to be referred to. In the 1700s and earlier,sons and daughters of Africawas a common appellation. Conseq uently, independent churches formed during that era often have names such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church. By the 1830s, another designation became common:Colored AmericansandPeople of Color. For example, Frederick Douglass often referred to “peoples of color” in his speeches. However, during these same years,Afro-Americanwas often used in newspapers and other published work. By the late 1800s,Coloredwas the most frequent name used, in both oral and written language. In the early1900s, a younger generation of people felt thatNegrowas a term that connoted a new sense of dignity and pride. For years, African-American activists campaigned for white publishers to capitalize the wordNegro. This was symbolically achieved in the 1940s, when theNew York Timesofficially changed its style sheet. During the 1960s, another younger generation felt thatBlackorBlack Americanswere terms that connoted greater racial pride and identification. In the 1990s,African Americanhas become more popular, coming almost full circle to the 1700s. Because these name changes reflect shifts in the cultural discourse among African Americans, in this chapter I have used the appropriate ethnic self-designations, all capitalized, in their respective historical periods.
For work on the importance of veterans to Afro-American and Mexican-American communities, see David Gutierrez,Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity(Berkeley, Calif., 1995); Alden Morris,The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change(New York, 1983); Bernard Nalty, Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military(NewYork, 1986); George Sanchez,Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945(NewYork, 1993).
2.For more on the kitchen debate, see Karal Ann Marling,As Seen on TV: Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the 1950s(Cambridge, Mass., 1994).
3.For more on the Reconstruction era, see Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1963-1877(New York, 1988).
4.For more on Aunt Jemima, see Donald Bogle,Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films, rev. ed. (NewYork, 1989); see also Marilyn Kern-Foxworth,Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus: Blacks in Advertising: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow(Westport, Conn., 1994).
5.For more on Pocahontas, see Rayna Green, “The Tribe Called Wannabe: Playing Indian in America and Europe,”Folklore99, no. 1 (1988); see also Green, “The Pocahontas Perplex: the Image of Indian Women in American Culture,”Massachusetts Review16, no. 4 (autumn 1975): 678-714; see also Philip DeLoria, “Playing Indian: Otherness and Authenticity in the Assumption of American Indian Identity,” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1995.
6.Werner Sollers,Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture(New York, 1986).
7.For more on this concept of “imagined communities,” see Benedict Anderson,Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 2d ed. (NewYork, 1991).
8.Art Directors Club of New York. Tape name: Best of 1964. The ad was produced by the agency Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, reel B632, Museum of Television and Radio, NewYork City.
9.There is extensive literature in cultural anthropology on the various constructions of and searches for “authenticity.” A key article in this debate is by Richard Handler. “Authenticity,”Anthropology Today, 2, no. 1 (1986); see also Marta Weigle, “From Desert to Disney World: The Santa Fe Railway and the Fred Harvey Company Display the Indian Southwest,”Journal of Anthropological Research45 (1989): 115-37.
10.Warren Belasco,Appetite for Change: How the Counterculture Took on the Food Industry, 1966-1988 (New York, 1989); Harvey A. Levenstein,Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America(New York, 1993); see also Harvey A. Levenstein,Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet(New York, 1988).
11.Robeson lived in the Soviet Union for several years and spent most of the 1930s and 1940s outside the United States. During the 1950s, he was hounded viciously by the American government for his earlier activism, labeled “premature antifacism.”
12.For more on these films, see Thomas Cripps,Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era(New York, 1993); see also Thomas Cripps,Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film 1900-1942(New York, 1977).
13.Johnson Publishing is still family owned and there are no available published figures except an annual audited circulation.
14.Published in theNew Yorker, “Black in America” is the title of this double issue, Apr. 29 and May 6, 1996.
15.There are no published monographs on advertising agencies owned by or orientated towards Afro-Americans. One important dissertation exists by Marian J. Moore, “The Portrayal of Blacks in Advertising, 1880-1920 and 1968-1980: A Comparative Analysis,” Ph.D. diss., Bowling Green State University, 1986.
16.Art Directors Club of New York. Tape name: Best of 1964.The ad was produced by McCann-Erickson, reel B632, Museum of Television and Radio.
17.For more on the Frito Bandito fiasco, see “Frito Bandito is First to Moon,”Advertising Age, Mar. 31, 1969, 102;”KNBC Rules Frito Bandito off Air Waves,”Advertising Age, Dec. 1, 1969, 1;”Mexican-American Group to Ask Equal Time vs. Bandito”AdvertisingAge, Dec. 15, 1969. 2; “Time to Answer Frito Bandito?”Broadcasting, Dec. 15,1969, 40-1; see also Anne Dingus, “Adios, Bandito,”The Mexican Presence, Jan. 1986, 186-9; Jane H. Hill, “Hasta La Vista, Baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest,”Critique of Anthropology13, no. 2 (1986): 145-76; Enrique Fernandez, “Ay Bandito!” in his El Norte column,Village Voice, Oct. 13, 1992, 24; Marry Westerman, “Death of the Frito Bandito,”American Demographics, Mar. 1989, 28-32.
18.The term “nonracist” comes from the imagery and language of the freedom struggle in South Africa and is not a term commonly used in the United States even today, except by activist organizations, such as TransAfrica in Washington, D.C.
19.McCann Erickson Historic tape, “A Paean to the Brand: Coca-Cola, 1955-1991,” Museum of Television and Radio.
20.See the work of Su-Chang Chan, Gary Okihiro, and Ronald Takaki,Strangers From a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans(New York, 1986). A key collector of Asian-American images in film and advertising is Yoshio Kishii, whose collections are located at the San Francisco Chinese Historical Society. See also Su-Chang Chan,Asian Americans: An Interpretive History(Boston, 1991), and Gary Okihiro,Cane Fires: The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945(Philadelphia, 1991). The most significant work on the European construction of “The Orient” is Edward Said,Orientalism(NewYork, 1978).
21.See George Stocking,Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology(New 1968). For more on the concept of good/evil dichotomizing, see Alain LeRoy Locke, Race Contacts and Interracial Relations: Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Race, ed. and introd. Jeffrey C. Stewart (Washington, D.C., 1992).
Copyright © 2000 by
The Advertising Educational Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Points: 150 (15% of grade)
The 2003 documentary, No Logo, examines the intersections of global capitalism, advertising, and the consequences of living in a global consumer society. After watching this documentary I’d like you to answer the following questions. Please note that first person “I” is encouraged; however, your reflection should engage with readings from Week 1 at length.
· Do you buy her argument(s)? Why or why not?
· How does the documentary draw upon, challenge, and/or relate to Jhally, Twitchell and/or other arguments presented in this week’s readings?
· It’s been over fifteen years since NO LOGO was filmed. Do you think Klein’s arguments are still relevant? (Hint: Think about each of the four sub points.). What’s changed? What’s remained the same?
· Look back at the definition of consumer-citizen. What does this documentary teach us aboutthe relationship between(national? global) political participationand consumption?
· Think back to your version of the “American Dream.” Has it changed after viewing this film? Why or why not?
· Critically engages with Sut Jhally/Twitchell’s essay, “On Advertising” AND at least one other reading from Week 1
· Discusses examples/evidence from the documentary in relation to the key term “consumer-citizen” (refer to previous page for definition)
· Introduces authors and arguments and thoughtfully utilizes concepts rather than summarize or relying on direct quotes
· Support reflection/response with examples from texts and film
· Uses appropriate “voice” and “tone” for an informed, academic audience
· MLA, APA, or Chicago style citation
(No Works Cited Page Required)
Three or four(3-4) pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman Font
Meets college level writing standards; including grammar, punctuation, syntax, clarity, etc
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