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Gender, race and class in media

Gender, Race And Class In Media

Reading on the book of gender, race and class in the media it has given me an insight into how we acknowledge our needs and we place ourselves in society. The forms of media that are of tools which project methods of representing one’s self in society can be from radio, television, films and other products of media culture materials. Douglas Keller (1995: 5) states that ‘ media images help shape our view of the world and our deepest values: what we consider good or bad, positive or negative, moral or evil. Media stories provide the symbols, myths and resources through which we constitute a common culture and through the appropriation of which we insert ourselves into this culture. Media spectacle demonstrate who has power and who is powerless, who is allowed to experience force and violence and who is not.’

Looking at gender, race and class in media and the forms of advertising. It can be clearly seen that the most dominate race which have been carefully placed in society to be looked upon as a superior race would have to be the white race the most common idol which is seen multiple times in advertising, and I say the word idol because how society has been created is that the level of hierarchy would begin with whites at the top as a superior race then others come after, and with the black ethnic group last.


Within the media you can clearly see the tools and many methods of how racial segregation is. The choice of models that are picked when advertising products or what product could be seen more important would be placed with the model who would be at the higher hierarchy as the white race, or you would see a black or anyone other ethnic group than the white race being used in lower roles of the advertisement or in some circumstance these other ethnic groups wouldn’t be placed in advertisements that reach out to the every ethnic group, such as products like Huggies  in each one of their products and I would say 90% of their advertisements the white race are vastly the main models picked for their products. A company like Huggies who base their products on the young, it will make sense for their adverts to advertise their products for all ethnic backgrounds because of the nature of their product its aimed at infants so their products should have a multicultural affect when seeing their adverts, but what we clearly see is the white race being used again as a higher or superior race when advertising products for the masses, this is hinting that being white is beneficial for you are more profitable and looked up on more than any other ethnic groups.


Thomas J. Burrell states that ‘ underlying the Burrell styles are two key concepts: “psychological distance” and “positive realism. “Burrell describes “psychological distance” as a felling of separation between the black consumers and a mainstream product.’ Thomas J. Burrell (1995: 93). This technically says that in advertising, the black race are least the ones who will be used for products that are mostly for the popular market, for they do not reflect out what the advertisers are trying to put out to their customers.  The stereotyping of the black ethnic group also plays a major part of how advertising are created for what the black ethnic group have been labeled as, such as “lazy nigger, the welfare mother, the ghetto drug dealer or even the violent and unemployed youth”.


Thomas J. Burrell states that ‘There was one ad that we did for Coca-Cola some years ago that really surprised me, because I thought it was really doing a job. There is custom, an old black custom that goes back to the days of slavery, that when a couple got married, there was a ceremony in which they jumped over a broom. It was a part of that tradition that had continued to exist in some places- where when you jump over a broom it means you are married. So we did a commercial that had a couple getting married, and they were getting married in a traditional style of African-Americans, and I thought it was very touching and very enriching and all those other positive, good things, and we got these letters saying, “I’m offended by that commercial. I’m offended because you’re bringing up all this negative imagery. That’s something that existed in slavery.’


I have taken an understanding that within advertising its more deep than normal, for when choosing a particular ethnic background you will be looked at on how well you present them and with what you are trying to advertise with them. A complicated topic yes, for when trying to put a black person into a advert you really have to think deeply about how you try to define that person without making it relate to either a racial discrimination  problem or even worse to the slavery age.


‘While making this film, we found many examples of racism in the fashion industry.  Take the L’Oreal scandal in France, where it was felt that the French woman would not be represented by a model without white skin.  Or the famous “Black issue” of Italian Vogue that made headline news in 2008 and sold out in 72 hours.  Some saw this as a turning point for Black models, but others considered it a poor apology for the lack of diversity at Milan’s fashion week and a token gesture to models of colour.’ Aisling, Y. (2012) Racism in the Fashion Industry, [Online], Available: [14 April 2012].


‘We also wanted to show the responses to bold moves by the fashion industry to be more culturally inclusive. For example, the Sikh Model who caused a buzz among fashion professionals and the Sikh community. There are also many in the industry who actively want to change the face of fashion, like Norwayne Anderson of NAM Agency in Toronto, and Dallas Logan, an acclaimed photographer who speaks candidly about why we do not see more Black women getting the high-end campaigns.’  Aisling, Y. (2012) Racism in the Fashion Industry, [Online], Available: [14 April 2012].


Looking more into advertising and how they’re manipulated to work so the public are more unconsciously purchasing their products, especially how images are edited to another level where they have famous black ethnic ideals to pose for a magazine or any other forms of visual adverts. You can clearly see how different the skin tones of each these models are, in some the skin are brightened up almost to a point where the person could be perceived as a “light skin” person, in that result it could be thought as best of two worlds.

‘Sony, seriously, this is getting out of hand. Every time we want to rethink what you’re doing and try to back you guys up, you go and pull some stunt like this latest ad campaign in Holland, which, as one can see above, depicts a “white PSP” avatar/model violently holding the mouth of a “black PSP” avatar/model — in commemoration of the launch of the ceramic white PSP, of course. The billboard pictured here is one of supposedly somewhere near 100 evocative images created for the campaign with the same theme, which found viewers of the ads — and game lovers alike — crying foul at Sony’s latest foible cum PR fiasco (and believe us, we’re sure to catch some fire for calling it just that). When it comes down to it we honestly don’t think Sony is stupid enough to mean any ill will — or smart enough to capitalize on a PR firestorm — with such an ad campaign.’ [Online], Available: [14 April 2012].


‘One woman working in the recruitment firm involved said foreign-sounding names or photos showing a candidate was of Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian or other African origin would ensure candidates were eliminated. Another said: “I once had a good woman candidate but she was non-white. I had to ask someone to pretend that our list was full. It was hard.”

One experienced candidate said she realised she was not eligible because she was of mixed race. In a normal sample of women recruited for similar sales work, around 40% would be non-white. For the Fructis project, less than 4% were of “non-European” origin.

SOS Racisme said hundreds of jobs had been subject to discrimination in the case. Garnier and the recruitment company were initially acquitted last year, but the appeal court yesterday overturned the ruling. A former Garnier head and a senior recruitment agency executive were acquitted.’ [Online], Available: [14 April 2012].


So looking at how the media or most advertising companies are now reaching to their customers, I can clearly see a bit of a change to how they represent other ethnic groups. This has been an interesting  topic to talk on, seeing how society shows the levels of hierarchy with race when it comes to different forms of media, it’s still has a long way to go for a better change so it can benefit all races.




  1. 1994. Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. 1 Edition. Sage Publications, Inc.
  2. 1994. Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (Routledge Communication Series). 1 Edition. Routledge

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