Monday, January 23, 2006

Today my life sucked because I got up at 12 pm after I meant to get up at 9 am. I had to madly dash out the door, and in the rush, I forgot my response paper for History of Africa or whatever. So you all can enjoy!

Africa in Ads

In the first ad, the white children are contrasted in the black African children. Both images include cows, but the white presumably American children are wearing modern clothes, while the African kids are wearing what look like loincloths and are carrying spears. This is pretty odd because Pretoria is a city in South Africa, so why would they be in the middle of a grass land, since Pretoria has tall buildings, although I haven't been there, but I've seen pictures of it. The second ad has two rugged looking white people, with the man carrying a cub. It's based on the old fashioned image of a safari- although why a human would be carrying a potentially dangerous animal, I have no idea. Even though we know there are some white people who live in Africa, this ad portrays them as rugged tourists- who else would be on a safari? Photo 3 reminds me of one of my pet peeves- in kid's cartoons, when something takes place in Africa, they show only antromorphized animals and 'wild nature', as if there's no people in Africa. Photo 5 presents a zebra as the main interest, with unidentified spear people and pots that are also unidentified standing out less. It seems to show a unified picture of this diverse continent as being just one culture, which mysteriously always has spears. I recognize photo 7 as being from a Jehovah's Witness magazine. The answer to the question on the cover is probably a resounding no. Note that the man on the cover is wearing this exotic costume, and using the bones of creatures supposedly to contact the spirit realm. The way he is posed, and the animal skins he is wearing makes him look almost animal like too. Photo 8 talks about explorers from hundreds of years ago, and the text is really weird- why are pygmies(I think that's a nickname for the BwaTwa or a people like that) grouped together with venomous spiders and malaria? They are people- not forces of the 'wild'. Also, Africa doesn't have tons of rainforest, the 'wild jungle' thing is totally inaccurate. In photo ten, the random African guy with a loincloth doesn't have a spear, but he has a stick. I'm not sure why they always have to have a phallic object in their hand. Also, what's the implication here? That this guy thinks that alcohol comes "magically" from the sky? If so, that's a stupid implication.

About the comments by the author: Photo 1: I think they just made up something, and thought we wouldn't notice. Advertising people aren't exactly known for their wide knowledge of the world. Photo 3: Also, Africa isn't synonymous with "nature". Photo 5: They could include a modern African- maybe an artist in modern clothes or a businessperson or a doctor as a photo. Or maybe use a fictionalized urban African as a narrator of the brochure or the program. Photo 6: Of course, the poor by nature are "uncivilized" The rich identified ad makers wouldn't think of connecting anything less than lavish to civilization. Photo 8: I agree. Like people would bite your ankles! I didn't even think about the types of spiders, though. Photo 10: I've never seen the film referenced. Of course, I am an American, so I thought of the wildly inaccurate stereotypes of blacks as heavy drinkers, although we drink less than white Americans. I wonder if other people would think of the same stereotypes?

Also,in class, I thought about more stuff, so I'll write it here. In class, our teacher who was in 'cynical mode' and had us laughing with comments like "I like how the women have gotten into it and are wearing African style dresses that they bought for a hundred dollars at Chicos!" and "Who is serving them? An authentic African, and look! They are authentic rich white people!" We also learned some words kaffir means the n word in Africaans and Boma is the colonial governor's office. I commented on the Kenya doll and how African Americans appropiate a contentless Africa which is only vaguely different from African America- I mean seriously, what does 'African Pride' on hair products even mean? I wish I had a cool book of ads like my teacher though.

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