Week 5 blog post


Who would of thought all this racism could of come from a bar of soap? I found this week to be very interesting and brought up a lot of could conversations about racism in advertising and what imperialism had done to shape the minds of people during some of the first advertisements. During the "Soft-Soaping Empire" discussion I found the picture in the slideshow very helpful in not only giving examples of the advertisements, but helped to analyze what messages were behind them. The advertisement I was the most focused on was that of a little white boy washing a a young black boy with the Pears soap. After washing he took on white qualities from the neck down which as a class we interpreted in a number of different ways. How I interpreted it was that being clean= white, and therefore masculine. Also, as Heidi pointed out it was made to appear as though the African American boy could be "cleansed" but not entirely. This idea could put at ease the white, or elite audience as if to say "don't worry we will still be in control." It was an interesting and thought provoking point to make and further instilled (and clarified) the idea of what imperialism is and its importance in advertising history. These incredibly racist soap advertisements helped to regulate and normalize these terrible things that were being done to impose the western culture onto the civilization. By being able to show what was "good" and correlating it to "white" these soap advertisements showed what it was to be a "man" and how to live a good, clean life.


I did find it funny, in comparison with the soap picture you pointed out, and the idea of "The white man vs the man" I find it similar in the sense that it's no longer good enough to be a man, you have to be a white man, or it's no longer good enough to be cleansed of blackness, you still have to be white. It just is funny how you try to sell these things to promote masculinity and power in being a man, or being cleansed... but now looking at these advertisements, they're selling that you have to be a "white" man, and you still need to be "white" and cleansed to have the power and control

I had a similar reading of that particular ad with the white boy and the black boy. It was interesting that the ad was selling the idea of whiteness or becoming white. As if being clean meant you were white or simply cleaning yourself could change something so fundamental in your life. I also found the idea of the black boy not ever being completely white from using the soap an obvious concept, but important in that time. I think it addressed the fears of the upper class white man that any person could become in the same class from them after only using the soap.

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This page contains a single entry by decon004 published on February 21, 2013 10:21 PM.

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