Well, it looks like social justice warriors were busy this weekend. The target this time? Dr. Seuss and Dove soap.
Nope, you didn’t miss read that. Dr. Seuss the beloved children’s author… and Dove a brand that has been celebrated for its diversity in advertising; are both under fire for being racist. Awesome…
Let’s talk about Dove first. To be fair I wasn’t even aware of this commercial until I noticed that it was trending on social media. So here is the advertisement that everyone- kinda- is talking about.
On the surface this looks like a normal Dove commercial, they talk about how its the brand for every woman, or every skin type. Or that’s what I’m seeing, because that has been the core of the brand for decades now. So before I start in on this let me show you what some of the SJW’s are saying about this particular advertisement.
The racist dove ad is a continuation of a long history of racist soap ads.. pic.twitter.com/znOc4X1K49
— Jemisha Johnson (@jemisha_johnson) October 8, 2017
— Arao ə-ˈrau̇ (@araoameny) October 8, 2017
I eventually had to stop scrolling because my head was starting to hurt. Now let’s take a look at the full advertisement. The full ad has a African American woman, a Caucasian woman and then a woman of another race. She looks Latin, but she could be any number of ethnicity’s…
When looking at historical context, the question becomes, where in history does one look? Because things like the Las Vegas shooting is touted as the largest mass shooting in MODERN U.S. History. Key word modern and how people are defining it. This is my current state of mind, what salacious thing is the media going to say is the biggest thing in modern history? Which is being defined as pretty much anything post 9/11. So to put the current Dove ad into historical context, in my world, its all good. But apparently not, because now historical context includes ad’s from the 1900’s to about the 1940’s give or take.Which if were really looking at it Dove wasn’t on the market until the 1940’s. Note historical context is shifting to fit the rhetoric. Keep this in mind as we carry on.
So to see this commercial as a racist ad you have to view the world through a very particular lens. When I saw that ad I went wait what??? But then again I might be looking at things through the lens of white privilege. Not sure if you have white privilege? Take the test!
Now with that Dr. Seuss is up on the chopping block as well, which is odd. Or to be more specific a mural that features lots of his work.
And just like that after 80 years Dr. Seuss is racist.
— Lori Hendry (@Lrihendry) October 6, 2017
What people are so up in arms over is the picture of the little man holding chopsticks and eating out of a bowl. This is a character from Seuss’s first book, And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Now if you want to play the historical context card, let’s play shall we?
Keep in mind the definition of historical context- If something must be understood or analyzed “in historical context,” it means the historical circumstances in which it was produced very much affected the work – its themes, its techniques, its message, etc. Without an understanding of the era, a full understanding of the piece will be impossible.
So let’s look at this from a historical perspective. The book itself was first published by Vanguard Press in 1937… What was going on at the time? Well, Jim Crow was alive and well in the South. World War 1 is done, and Hitler is in power and is strategically trying to take over Europe, before the US enters World War II after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in 1941. Also, just in case some of you weren’t paying attention in history class, during WWII the US government took Japanese Americans and placed them in internment camps at the best interest of the country.
So given the time that the book was published there were probably some resentment towards the Japanese, I mean that did just kamikaze an entire US Naval base on American soil.
Now… The artist who painted this mural and the museum itself that allowed this mural to go through that might be, the problem here. From what I’m seeing is these were done pretty recently. While it might be a beloved character from one of Dr. Seuss’s book, it might not be the best thing to put it on parade.
I will say, that if it hadn’t been pointed out to me I wouldn’t have thought that it was racist, and here is why… I don’t view the world through the lens of racism, because if we are really honest about it, it is a moving target that no one will truly be able to nail down. Surely, I can’t be the only person that is seeing this shift.
If I’m being real honest I’m not sure that I will ever be able to see the world through this lens. I guess that is what makes me kind of the eternal optimist in the fact that I don’t believe everyone is out there to be a hateful racist. Then again that is just me.