Project Reflection #2
Over the period of the FYS course, our class has reviewed a number of texts with a variety of different concepts, from images in advertising to gender roles. While some of these texts don't have relevance to my project, there are a couple whose concepts can be applied to what I am researching. For example, take John Berger's "Ways of Seeing," a scholarly text concerning the presence of women in a predominantly male culture. Berger states that, "...and so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman" (46). To paraphrase, Berger is saying that men are the surveyors: able to gaze upon the image of a woman freely, while women are only able to gaze upon themselves. This same concept can be applied to race in advertising. Before the 70's, there was little to no representation of other races in advertising, with a sparse amount of ads featuring black actors or models. One could make the connection that people of other races could only gaze upon the image of whites in advertising, while whites could look upon themselves with impunity, knowing that the culture at the time favored them.
Another text which has relevance to the material I'm researching is Susan Bordo's "Hunger as Ideology," which concerns gender roles and the idealization of food products. Bordo's main idea doesn't have relevance to my project, but a section in the text titled "Destabilizing Images" does have relevance to the material I'm covering. Bordo states that (in relation to ideological messages in ads that go against traditional norms of advertising), "Rather, they always display a complicated and bewitching tangle of new possibilities and old patterns of representation." In the 90's, the Benetton Group, a global fashion brand, decided to break traditional norms of advertising and feature ads with interracial models and provocative imagery. For example, one of the ads features a white male embracing and kissing a black female on the cheek, signifying interracial relationships. Whether it's a moral statement from the company or simply to be provocative, it breaks the standard "Patterns of Representation" mentioned by Bordo, and shows progressive, yet daring views of thinking on part of the company. As for why this project is important, I believe that taking a look at advertising throughout 50 years is a good way to see how much our perception has changed, and how we have come to accept differences in both race and nationality. It grants perspective, something that is needed in order to remain conscious of the nature of advertising.