Saturday, March 7, 2009

Closing Remarks

Here are some of the comments I was going to make in class this past week and didn't get a chance to :) Just a last word on gender roles and race representation in the media before we move on. A few classes ago, Errin was talking about driving up to Salt Lake and noticing how different races were represented on the billboards; they really aren't. We discussed that maybe this was because the advertiser's target market is the population majority in this area. The other day I was driving to Provo from Spanish Fork and I noticed a sign for the Provo Towne Center Mall that said, "Welcome to the mall, mom." and another sign for a carpet cleaning service that said something to the effect of "Clean Carpets, Happy Women." If I wasn't in this class I really wouldn't have thought anything about it, but my first thought was, ok with these advertisements the mall is targeting "moms" and the carpet cleaning billboard could be targeting men by saying they're wives will be happy if they get the carpets cleaned, because it's assumed that they women already naturally want they're carpets cleaned but it's the men who are holding them back. My second thought was what is being said about women through this advertising? How are they being represented? These signs could be saying that all women are shopaholics and "clean freaks", and that being a homemaker and a mom is their primary gender role.

We also discussed different TV shows and what percentage of other races are represented in the casting of these shows, and what roles they play. I couldn't help but think of Survivor, and how every season they seem to have x number of black people, Asians, and men and women. Sometimes when I watch these shows or see certain advertisements (for example, the promotional materials for UVU) I feel like the producers are trying to meet a "quota of diversity," whether this is the case or not. I know our community has a lot of diversity, but sometimes it feels like this diversity isn't represented accurately.

Someone also made the comment this week about an actor not being cast because of the color of his skin, despite his experience. I started thinking about a case that I think is just the opposite of this. In Much Ado About Nothing, Denzel Washington plays the part of Don Pedro and the part of his brother (illegitimate brother) Don John is played by Keanu Reeves. Obviously, the two aren't brothers, but in a discussion I had with a friend, she said that Washington got the part not because of the color of his skin but because he's a great actor and played the part of Don Pedro well.


  1. And I wonder why the other part went to Keanu Reeves, as that guy couldn't act to save his life. I mean, he has like 2 faces that he makes, and speaks in a monotone, but I digress.
    I've observed the same thing you had. It's as if Utah County (unapologetically) still advertises following the 1950's demographics. Sure, our community values are a bit old-fashioned, but can we not default into that rutted stereotype? It's amazing and perhaps telling, that more women don't complain and chide the advertisers for sexist and insensitive billboards. Surely some women are irked by this.

  2. I saw that "Clean Carpets, Happy Women" ad too and immediately thought of this class. Apparently women are the only ones who want clean carpets, while men just love to roll around in filthy carpets. I agree that, like many things, advertising in Utah is stuck in the '50s.

  3. I have started looking at advertisments and trying to find the hidden meaning. Some times it does not take a lot of finding. I see somethings and feel the same like they are just trying to get their diversity quota. I wonder if this is just us unfamiliar with an afrian-american or asian stuffed in with a crowd of white people.