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June 23, 2006

Is there a subliminal message of racism — and worse — in the picture below?


This morning, as I was looking at yesterday's post featuring DripCatchers, I was struck by a thought: why is it that the girl who's all nice and neat with her nifty DripCatcher in place (left above and below)


is blond, while a dark-haired, non-Anglo girl — whose photo is labeled "No more mess!" — with her face and top all full of popsicle drips, is the poster child for a bad outcome?

Why, for that matter, was it that in the Coors Light ads during the football season past, the babe sitting in the box seats dripping with sweat was dark-haired while the cool Coors-sipping goddess was blond?

I think it's because either unconsciously (doubt it) or quite consciously, the people who created these ad campaigns used the built-in, deep-seated bias that all of us have — whether or not we consciously realize it and rise above it — to influence us and sell product.

What I find especially troubling, though, about the DripCatchers photos is the use of that red circle,


which of course can be passed off as a riff on the classic "No Whatever" sign but really — in the thin-lined motif used here — resembles much more the view through a rifle scope sight or bomb targeting laser camera.

Is it just me?

Am I too sensitive?


Or am simply putting into words what would otherwise go unremarked — though not unnoticed?

June 23, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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I agree with you with all my heart. My heart and soul are in the right place but my brain is not. Thank you for that wonderful article. I loved it. you have all the rights points and I wish you all the best. may the frogs be with you in this time need- now and forever.

Posted by: kinniney | Jan 23, 2007 12:16:37 PM

oh my...this is almost funny if it wasn't such a serious thought. Ok ok..I have to agree with uncle jake on this one. SHHHH don't tell anyone but my natural hair color and skin color is dark hair olive skin tone and I even have stains on my little white shirt once in awhile..but heck if I don't look like the little blonde girl now...lol Let's all drink a beer and sit in the sun a bit. Good for the skin and the hair...not to mention sometimes makes ya nice and messy too...=)

Posted by: Rhonda | Jun 26, 2006 10:37:36 AM

Morning Joe,

It's you. You're being over-sensitive, particularly with the rifle scope comparison. Seriously.

Have a cold beer, read a bit in the sun, and eventually this too shall pass.



Posted by: Uncle Jake | Jun 26, 2006 2:41:46 AM

I think you're seeing stuff that just isn't there, but if you're concerned that this is a blonde conspiracy, have a read of something that I found on a very informative web site - http://www.bookofjoe.com/2006/03/the_last_natura.html

Posted by: Graeme | Jun 25, 2006 11:55:52 PM

I think you've stumbled upon to something Joe -- them blonde hair devils are getting a bit of subtle racism thrown at them. Swarthier folk of European stock like myself understand this and realize blue eyes subcubus spawn shown above cannot help but worry about appearances -- it will come in handy when plotting world domination.

There is no racism in it, unless you count the knowledge of the true fact that northern Europeans and their secret genetics that impose a cleanliness upon the rest of the world that will eventually seperate us into two categories (of which only one can win). Oh no, its not racism if its true.

Posted by: clifyt | Jun 24, 2006 9:40:17 AM

Can someone read too far into something? This seems to be one of those cases. Remember the old 'Tide' commercials? This product's advertising is similar in approach. My own daughter resembles the 'messy' kid, we're 100% Irish. No one that we've showed the actual site pics to said anything remotely close, except that they figured most kids would discard this amazing device once the treat was consumed.

Posted by: Marty | Jun 23, 2006 8:59:11 PM

I'm with you, Joe. I've been told I'm "ultra-sensitive" about this too, but so be it. I'm not fussed by the accusation.

Posted by: lisa | Jun 23, 2006 8:28:13 PM

Dark hair and/or olive/dark complexion continue to have mostly negative meanings in the western culture. It's the way things are and aren't likely to change anytime in the near future. Call me a pessimist but that is the way I see it.

It isn't a conscious decision by marketers it's just so ingrained in our culture that most don't notice it.

Posted by: shelby | Jun 23, 2006 8:04:34 PM

Answering the questions:
1. Yes
2. Probably
3. Are you just saying what everyone else was
thinking? Who knows. It sure never occurred
to me. I vote innocent. No harm intended,
none done.

(Last sentence - Possible "I" left out between "am" and "simply"?)

Posted by: Flutist | Jun 23, 2006 4:00:02 PM

If you hadn't mentioned it I'd never have thought of her as non-white. Actually, I'd probably not have thought of it at all even where one kid white as a sheet and the other as black as coal. She just looks like a small girl.

Posted by: Skipweasel | Jun 23, 2006 2:30:36 PM


First of all, the pretty young girl with the popsicle all over her shirt has dark hair, but definitely could be of European origin. Secondly, I think the laser sight thing is equally a stretch. The girl looks very much like my daughter, including the mess. This ad may be anti-brunette, but not racist.

Posted by: fcsurgeon | Jun 23, 2006 2:24:42 PM

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