Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

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What’s in a Cartoon?

June 18, 2009

A drink mix from the early 1960s.

A drink mix from the early 1960s.

Some people object to the use of cartoon mascots that capitalize on immigrant or minority stereotypes. They hold that such displays are not only insulting to the people whose image they are exploiting, but also risks teaching such views to others. Lately, this controversy has appeared in regards to sports team mascots such as “Redskins” or “Fighting Indians.” But in the historical context in which these team names were selected, such phrases were common. For example, similar images were also used to advertise drinks, soap, cereals, candy, and toys for children.

Would you like to respond to this article? If so, select a topic below to post to:

1. Do you think it is proper to use human cartoons that characterize specific ethnic groups as sports team mascots? Why?

2. Do you object to using human cartoons that characterize specific ethnic groups as advertisement images? Why? Can any of your points be applied to using similar characters as team mascots, as well? Why?

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What’s in an Advertising Image?

October 30, 2008

Posted by Wes Abercrombie
Advertising images are one form of social communication—explored by sociologists for decades. These images can communicate complex social understandings, such as roles, values, political beliefs, laws, courting rituals, and religious dogma. Sociologists have studied how these pictures are used to reinforce, destroy, and teach social understandings—like the idea of gender—that can unite people or separate them.

Gender isn’t sex. Sex is a biological characteristic. Gender refers to people’s understandings of masculinity and femininity; what society thinks is proper behavior for men or women. These ideas can change from society to society and over time, while being male or female is normally static. For example, look at the classic film poster below and compare it to the recent DVD cover next to it.

The poster for “Gone with the Wind” was produced in 1939. The DVD  “Resident Evil: Extinction” was released in 2007. Both movies, in part, deal with massive, abrupt social change and how “strong” women adapt to those changes. Some sociologists believe the depiction of women in these films offers some insights into gender expectations when the films were made. What do you think?

Look closely at the images and consider these questions:

  • How do the images in these advertisements reflect changing expectations of American women since 1939?
  • Do you think these advertisements reinforce existing understandings or teach new ones?
  • How do you think such ideas affect how people interact with each other in the “real world”—in families or the military, for example?

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