Racism in Advertising

In 2017, it seems as if being politically correct is more important than ever. You would think that marketing teams and advertisers would take this into consideration, but that is not always the case. Institutionalized racism has played its role in multicultural marketing for many decades.

Typically, there are five signs that can be used to identify racism in ads: language, imagery, message, subtext and body position/language. There is a thin line between what is perceived as good and bad advertising when it comes to considering different races.

Leading companies try to attract persons to buy their products, but often times the ads bring about more serious problems.

That’s obvious after the recent ad campaign from Pepsi featuring Kendall Jenner, which was a sad excuse for an expression of “unity”. The ad faced extreme criticism; the public expressed distaste for the capitalization off of liberation movements and the disrespectful reference to powerful images from previous events.

People were also offended by the fact that the protest movement in the ad campaign was led by an upper-class socialite, someone who probably has not faced some of the feats that people of color have.

By Madeleine Kidd

And this is not the first time a racist or patronizing ad campaign has been used. In Europe during 2016, Sony released a campaign for the new PlayStation White. The ad depicted a white woman, dressed in all white, grabbing a black woman’s face. The white woman is positioned in a stance of power and assurance, while the black woman appears as submissive and obedient.

Sony claims that the intent was to display the contrast between the different colors available for the PSP. Was that best way to spread that message to the public? Probably not.

Then, in 2007, Intel followed suit with an advertisement for a desktop processor. The image was of a man dressed in business attire, surrounded by six black men bending down in sprinter’s position.

Not to mention, the tagline was “maximize the power of your employees”.  It didn’t take long for audiences to notice the racist references and in turn, be offended by the ad campaign. The ad was particularly troubling because of the slight relation to slavery and depicting African Americans as subordinate.

The trend of racist ad campaigns does not stop there. While some may appear as more discreet, others are blatantly targeting. In 2008 in Japan, eMobile released ads displaying a monkey in a suit at an election rally, in front of an audience holding signs expressing the word “change”.

Considering this was right around the time of Obama’s presidential campaign and inauguration, the ad was extremely offensive and was later removed from publication for its overt racism. It proves that anyone, no matter their status, can fall victim to mass companies trying to make a profit.

By Madeleine Kidd

There is a certain awareness of the dangers of racial stereotyping that is ingrained into American culture. For instance, in 2013, Volkswagen released a one minute Super Bowl commercial in which a white man speaking in the dialect of someone from Jamaican decent.

Even though the commercial had a positive intent, the ad was accused of being racist and a representation of “verbal blackface”. Volkswagen had tested the ads among consumers, including Jamaicans, and did not receive much negative feedback. However, the company was prepared with a backup campaign in case the first one backfired.

There is no real definitive reasoning as to what makes advertisements racist or offensive. A lot of it must do with how sensitive the public is to the use of different races in ad campaigns.

Controversy isn’t always a bad thing when the entire purpose of these marketing techniques is to get attention. Sometimes, it even benefits the company. When there is deliberate exploitation of men and women of different races, you must ask yourself: what crosses the line?

By Madeleine Kidd

It’s Cleveland Against the World

The Cavaliers. West Side Market. The Grog Shop. Little Italy. All places and things make you think of Cleveland, Ohio.

Over the last two years, the area has been trying to rebrand and attempt to attract new business and tourists. The “Destination Cleveland” organization has an ambitious goal for 2020: 20 million annual visitors.

Cleveland’s rebirth has been happening for years, unbeknownst to the public eye. The city has earned six James Beard awards for restaurants, a thriving bar, music, arts scene and startup companies. A lot of the success is coming from the millennials (hurrah), as they are coming to the area and causing some reactivity.

The city has taken its gamble on professional sports to help revitalize the city; Cleveland lucked out in its success. This past summer, the Cavaliers won the world championship. A few months later, the Cleveland Indians advanced to the World Series. Thus, people have flocked to the city. It is considered “on the rebound” by many.

The list of residential amenities is expanding. For instance, social connectivity, proximity to nightlife and walkability are some of the desired qualities of the area. Among those reasons are the different attractions that bring a large range of people.

Coventry is among one of the unique tourist destinations. Located in Cleveland Heights, it is equipped with eclectic shops and unique eateries for any generation. It’s a place of immense diversity and hippie vibes. There are all kinds of cuisines, ranging from vegetarian eats to Indian and Asian foods. Shops that include imported goods and “retro” finds welcome newcomers. The nightlife also attracts many, including concert venues The Grog Shop and City and East Hookah and Spirits.

If you’re looking for a little more culture, visit the Cleveland Museum of Art on the east side. The museum contains a range of 30,000 works of art spanning over 5,000 years from places around the world. The structure underwent renovation beginning in 2005 and was not completed until 2013. Costing $350 million in total, it was the largest cultural project in Ohio’s history. Not to mention, the museum is free to the public. The exhibits are rotated over periods of time, so no visit will be exactly like the last.

Another interesting place to visit is the indoor/outdoor West Side Market located in Ohio City. It has undergone many improvements and additions since its start-up in the early 1900’s. The market is home to over one hundred independently owned businesses. It contains a plethora of vendors selling meats, cheeses, poultry, baked goods, flowers and spices among others. Plus, there is a separate building entirely for the freshest produce of the season. Whether it be a daytime destination or a weekly shopping place, West Side Market has an interesting take on everyday groceries.

By Alyse Nelson

Finally, Little Italy is another hidden gem in Cleveland. The area came about in the mid-1800’s by Joseph Carrabelli, an Italian sculptor, when he began his work on Mayfield Road. The area then became an homage to other Italian families who came to Cleveland to find work. Thus, Little Italy was born. The traditions are still held strong today with the cultural heritage and artistry that was brought to the area decades ago. Little Italy is known for its art galleries and delicious Italian cuisine. This little tourist spot hosts many events such as Art Walks, Taste of Little Italy, Affesco Summer Nights and much more.

Just like anywhere, Cleveland still has some improvements to make. The city can fall victim to unemployment, economic distress and outdated infrastructure, but considering the last two years, the city is most certainly on its way.

Visiting new places is important for personal development. It is a way to gain new information and be exposed to new cultures. Even if it is only an hour or two from your neighborhood, your home state still has so much to offer.


Hip Hop and the False Personification of Women

Music is a timeless way to connect people and cultures. There are endless types of genres that inspire new trends, lingo and ways to act. As music continues to evolve, so does society. Hip Hop and rap is a genre that over time has sparked controversy and debate over where it is taking its listeners. This genre has no shame in speaking out against the government or relating lyrics to real life experiences.

Hip hop is definitely a trendsetter, but it doesn’t necessarily always affect listeners in a positive manner. In the industry, corporate companies have taken over and encouraged artists to reach their target audience with a different method. Nowadays, it seems as if rappers are attempting to appeal to listeners with lyrics and videos that exploit women to increase the amount of viewership.

Let’s call a spade a spade: sex sells in our society, and the media have discovered this particular complex. Hip hop has depicted a picture of how women should be regarded, but in all honesty, it’s time that people given women the respect and treatment they truly deserve.

Most times in the rap world, women represent success and are treated as trophies or possessions. Not all artists subject women like this, but some truly do. Women are used as a way for rappers to demonstrate that they are top tier.

Now, I don’t believe artists do this because they believe that women are inferior. They do it to demonstrate to the world their accomplishments. Their intent is to appear, mainly to younger men, as if they are living the “good life”. It’s all about making money, and putting on this façade does just that.

Children are extremely vulnerable to this type of demonstration. When they see videos of men surrounded by women with money practically falling like water, the image is ingrained in them as the definition of success.

For instance, in the hook of “Successful” by Drake, Trey Songz deliberately relates money, cars, clothes and women (referenced by a more derogatory term that I won’t mention; let’s keep it PG) to success. Isn’t success more than just that? Isn’t it about self-love, good friends and family? Isn’t it about being content with your surroundings and living within your means? The image of success has gotten convoluted and has lost some meaning. I, personally, think that’s kind of sad.

In my opinion, rap and hip hop were not always like this. In the beginning, it didn’t seem as if women were really mentioned in lyrics or seen in videos. Artists talked about real issues and actual experiences. The first verse of Nas’ song “If I Ruled the World” displays his raw emotions and opinions about the lower income population. He shows his discontent with the fact that we live in a world people have to become thugs and gangsters in order to make a living or even gain respect.

As the years progressed, women made more of an appearance because that is what the public wanted to see. Women were sold out in order to gain more recognition. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that some of the female population are not entirely thrilled about the way they are perceived in music.

Most of the time, women are mentioned using derogatory terminology and cuss words. This creates a sense of false imagery for the public. To put it lightly (or not), it can be extremely demeaning and disrespectful. Women deserve more than that. They are more than just their appearance or an accessory.

Society and the media have slowly but surely worked against the idea that women are equal. As long as the public supports the production of these songs and videos, then nothing is going to change.

While I am a pop-punk/indie music lover to my core, I still enjoy the hip hop genre. I’m not saying you have to stop binge watching music videos or attending concerts of your favorite artists. but I just suggest taking a second to think about what you’re listening to. Support the people who spread positive messages and confront social issues. Endorse those artists and in turn, take hip hop and rap to a new level.

Make America Think Again

There is much debate over whether or not protesting has any real effect on social change. Can you blame anyone? Walking for miles with picket signs and yelling until your lungs grow raspy does not seem like the most efficient way to get a point across. Plus, there are sometimes a few who ruin it for the many and bring about an extremely negative, violent atmosphere. When you consider all of the factors, it doesn’t seem like the most effective of methods.

Even so, protesting is one of the most important elements of freedom of speech. It brings attention to a cause, making it more humane by bringing people who feel strongly about an issue to the streets.

Protesting puts faces to a cause. It shows the world who is truly being affected, and it’s not just adults. Parents often bring their children to such events to show that societal and political changes affect every generation. Power to the people no matter what age, am I right?

When a rally occurs, people know. The media know. Bystanders notice. Even politicians are aware. If executed correctly, protesting may even encourage outsiders to look at the issue in a different way. Protests are not intended to persuade, but they encourage change and invite people to challenge their morals.

Protesting can bring about a sense of power. Speaking from experience, I participated in an anti-police brutality rally during the summer of 2016. There was something about taking over the streets with my sign and chanting as loud as I could that made me feel dignified. We turned heads, got people talking and made it on the news. As a group, we were stronger together. It was so moving to be surrounded by others who felt just as empowered as I did.

Mind you, not everyone supported that particular cause. No single person you meet will have the exact same views as you. Not everyone is going to agree with your opinions, and that’s completely okay. Therefore, it was much more of a personal experience. I did it for me.

Some of the largest protests have occurred recently. The Women’s March which happened shortly after Trump’s inauguration had some of the largest turnouts. News outlets reported between three and five million people around the country participated in the protest. There were even sister marches in other countries. The power of protesting can reach areas far and wide.

One of those particular marches took place in Cleveland, Ohio. Bree Morgan, a nursing student at Kent State, attended the rally.

“I wanted to be a part of the right side of history and also something where the intentions were to demonstrate the resistance and advocacy of people who support human rights,” Morgan said.

When asked whether or not she believed that protesting had a positive effect on society, she concurred that they do, as long as they are peaceful. She believes protesting “puts into perspective and paints a picture of the fact that there are problems that other people need to stop ignoring/denying.”

Clare Goebel, an ASL interpreting and political science major at Kent State, has participated in a few marches and solidarity protests.

“I was raised to look past my own privilege to understand that other people have different thought processes and different lifestyles. For me, it never made sense to prejudge someone based on skin, color, sexual preferences, or else that makes them different than the mainstream person,” Goebel said.

Clara Sullivan, a public relations major, attended her first protest when she was only six years old. Her parents took her and her siblings to Chicago to protest President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. She states that her family has “always stressed the importance of political and social activism.”

“I think we’re at a pivotal point right now in our society and to me staying silent on topics that matter is not even an option,” Sullivan said. “I have no doubt in my mind that this election and this presidency will be written about in history books that my children will read. When that time comes, I want to be able to explain to my children the importance of standing up for what you believe in and to question authority when authority makes you question your morals. I want to be able to look back at this point in time and be confident that I was on the right side of history.”

Protesting assists in keeping people engaged. It inspires societal change and encourages the advancement of human rights. It keeps citizens informed and provides for a more activist mindset.

It can seem like your voice is not enough. You might think that there are influential people making a difference in politics and society and you can’t be one of them. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

Change does not happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play an equal part in making a mark on society. No one else can do that for you; you are the only person who can contribute your own ideas, concepts and values to an issue. The world needs to know what you have to say. Don’t let yourself be quieted; let yourself be heard.

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Love and Lashes: Men in Makeup

If you look at photos taken throughout the decades, it’s pretty notable how beauty trends have changed. I mean, seriously. Look at pictures of your parents in their younger years; I bet your mom is sporting some variation of colored eyeshadow with enormous wavy hair, and your dad is wearing an interpretation of a stylish mullet.

Nowadays, sculpted brows and highlighter are all the rage, and women aren’t the only people who are up to date on the latest makeup trends. The amount of male makeup gurus and teenage boys who wear glam eye looks and glowing skin with confidence is growing fast. It is difficult to pinpoint a particular person who started it all, but we can all agree that genderless makeup is changing the beauty industry, and it deserves to be discussed.

I’d like to think that the younger generations have a lot to do with this particular societal change. Us millennials are becoming more open minded than our elders. Almost every day, I glance at my Twitter feed and see multiple threads of young men and women beating down negativity towards gender fluidity.

The amount of transgender and gay individuals have grown immensely over the last year.  With that, younger men and women are breaking barriers. It’s as if everyone woke up one day and said, “You know what, I am going to express and accept my true self, no matter the repercussions.”

The trend of men sporting makeup has not been widely accepted, but it is a new concept that the younger generation is making sure does not go overlooked. It’s no surprise that companies within the beauty industry have noticed.

Recently, Lush produced an ad featuring a gay couple taking a bath and smiling lovingly at each other (swoon). Earlier in 2016, Covergirl released its first ad featuring James Charles, a male model sporting perfectly sculpted brows and mauve eyeshadow. While he is often mistaken as transgender, he identifies himself as gay, and someone who is very in touch with his personality. He just loves to look fabulous.

He’s not the only one; Jeffree Star, a popular makeup guru on YouTube, provides viewers with intense full-face tutorials, product reviews and encouragement. He even has his own makeup line. Then there is MannyMUA, a makeup artist who follows in the footsteps of the aforementioned makeup guru. Not to mention Nikita Dragun, a transgender makeup artist who relates to any person struggling with his/her identity. The list goes on and on.

Things are changing, and the line between the sexes is continuing to blur. Gender fluidity is hitting the mainstream hard. There has been backlash over the last few months regarding the LGBTQ and identity-questioning community, but the trend is ultimately about a shift in choice for the better. Men and women alike are allowed to become and embody the person they truly want to be.

The beauty industry is no longer a uniformed ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of deal. Makeup is art. It is intended to make men and women feel confident, and complete. It allows people to feel comfortable in their own skin. Does anyone really have the right to take that power away from them?

To me, men wearing makeup shows bravery. I can’t imagine the type of condescension men receive from wearing products in public. It probably knocks them down a peg or two, making them feel as if they haven’t earned their individuality.

Let’s just clear the air a little bit; this movement is not about feminizing men, but rather about making makeup genderless as a whole. It’s not a movement about degrading someone’s sexual orientation, but instead being accepting of it. It’s not about taking away someone’s ability to choose who they want to be, but instead giving it to them.

So keep on keepin on, gentlemen. Slap on that highlighter, glue on those fake eyelashes, and blot that lipstick. This world is yours for the taking.

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