What's your FLAVA?


I remember seeing the "Flava Dolls" Commercials on Nickelodeon when they first were a hit. I initially laughed at the idea, thinking it was kind of ridiculous, but the more I think about it the more I am apalled at the way they are degrading diversity and different ethnicities. The dolls are very generic and the only way you can tell that they made of different races is the shade of their skin. The dolls features are made so that you can't decipher exactly their ethnic background. Isn't that a slap in the face to those who are proud of their ethnic backgrounds? The same thing kind of applies to Dora Explorer. Nickelodeon producers are doing as little as possible in regards to displaying the latino culture, just enough to get by so they don't get backlash for not supporting a diverse background of ethnicities.


It's funny you mention that you remember seeing this commercial when you were younger, because I do too. Although, to be honest, I really never understood what they meant by asking in the theme song, "What's your flava?" In fact I think the entire ad went right over my head; I mean I guess it would make sense, since I was 12 at the time, bc this ad came out in '03, and I was just a young kid watching commercials in between on Nick waiting for my show to come back. If anything I thought that flava had something to do with like the clothes they wore/more so how they dressed, so really it didn't apply to me, because I am a guy and wear guy clothes. Anyway--now that we're examining it, the ad appears to try and promote diversity I guess by featuring a wide range of dolls of different nationalities, however, it sort of just seems like Mattel is just trying to sell/advertise the dolls and felt obligated to include a handful of different races so they wouldn't be accused of favoritism. On top of that, Nickelodeon endorsed the commercial by allowing it to air on their network, and I agree that Nick is just trying to fill the obligation void by allowing commercials that try and feature a widespread of diversity to air, so they can remain "balanced" and "credible" as far as promoting equality.

I think you bring up a great point about the dolls being racially ambiguous. What about all dolls though. I don't think that the other Barbies have any facial features that links them to race other then their skin tone. Wouldn't a little girl like having a doll that looks like them?
I think that the American girl dolls actually have facial features that are more accurate to ethnicities. Why are their not more companies that do this.
In response to your point about Dora I think that they do teach kids to be interested in the latino culture even if its on a small scale. How much culture lesson can you throw at a 4 year old before they loose interest because they don't get it. Its a kids show that introduces them to Dora's culture. At 4 I think its an appropriate amount.

I think anytime a toy company manufactures dolls they are sort of playing with fire. It seems like if they make a doll that is racially ambiguous, like the Flava dolls, they are going to feel the heat from certain groups for not promoting racial diversity. On the flip side, when a company manufactures a doll where the race is made obvious, then they open themselves up to possible accusations of racial stereotyping. I definitely think the Flava dolls are terrible and have no culture at all. I also think toy companies have their work cut out for them because they cannot possibly please everyone.

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This page contains a single entry by schu2557 published on October 18, 2012 11:45 PM.

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