Saturday, August 20, 2011

Savages and dirty hippies

Borrowed from Renee.


(The two pics above are of a new ad campaign cosmetic maker Nivea is launching at men, call "Look Like You Give A Damn". The pic on the left is of a black man with a close hair cut playing basketball with what looks like his head with with an afro with the message, "Re-Civilize Yourself". On the right is an ad of a white guy in a suit with short hair holding what looks like his his own head with has a bushy beard and long hair with the message, "Sin City isn't an excuse to look like hell.")

I'm gonna keep this short (I have a lot of stuff on my plate this week.)

Renee gave some good commentary on the racist implications of the ad with the black man, namely this:
The afro is threatening simply because it is a product of the Black love movement that began in the 60's. During that time, wearing a gravity defying afro was considered a symbol of embracing Blackness and a pride in being Black.
In addition to that I'd also say that the implication that an afro is uncivilized is also a jab at the idea that such hair is an indication of being "wild and savage".

Someone linked the ad with the the white guy in it in Renee's comments and I have to say something about that. I'm not even white but when I read that message ("Sin City isn't an excuse to look like hell.") I thought "White Devil" and "Dirty Hippie". As we all know all white men are evil and hippies are dirty right?

Not only are there racial implications but there are also male implications here as well and that's what I want to touch on a bit.

You see as men we have our expectations of what we have to look like in order to be taken seriously. As those ads imply a black guy with an afro is uncivilized and a white guy with a long beard is dirty. Bullshit. My afro and I get along just fine (in fact I'm due to wash it tomorrow, I may FINALLY have it to the point where I only need to wash it once a week but I'll get back to that later). The husband of one of my coworkers has a beard that would make Santa jealous and he's a well loved preacher. Why in the world are people still so wrapped up in one's appearance as a measure of their character?

I can understand that a man needs to manage his hair. Like making sure its clean, and by that I only mean clean in the literal sense of making sure its not got food in it or keep it clear of things like lice or not smelling (but I'm flexible on that one). But that's pretty much it. Acting as if having a beard or long hair or afro that some would call scruffy is an indicator that said man is not good at his job or not a good dating prospect or not trustworthy to do business with? Nonsense.

While I can appreciate advertising these products to men that want to keep their hair the way they like it I really don't like the idea of these products being advertised to us as if we need them in order to be accepted in society. So we won't be looked upon as untrustworthy "savages and dirty hippies". A man should be free to keep his hair the way he pleases.

It would seem that it is time to ante up. Here's the comment I made. (Remember to choose Complaints/Promotions.)

I've seen two ads in your latest "Look Like You Give A Damn" campaign and I must say that while your hearts were in the right place they come off as offensive to men and as racist.

In one ad you have a black man with a close hair cut holding what looks like his head, which has an afro, like a basketball with the message "Re-civilize yourself". In another you have a white man with short hair holding what looks like his head, which has long hair and a large beard, with the message "Sin City is no excuse to look like hell".

As man I have to say that these ads give the implication that in order to be considered acceptable (rather than a savage or white devil, I'm sure you can tell which is which) we must use your products. This type of advertising comes off as an attempt to make us dependent on your product and customers do not deserve to be treated in such a manner.

I sincerely hope you will reconsider the use of these two ads in your campaign.

Thank you for your time.