Search results for symbols

In this ad for Union Carbide is an excellent example of the dichotomization of “tradition” and “modernity” and the conflation of “modernity” with the West.  Text:

Science helps build a new India.

Oxen working the fields . . . the eternal river Ganges . . . jeweled elephants on parade.  Today these symbols of ancient India exist side by side with a new sight–modern industry.  India has developed bold new plans to build its economy and bring the promise of a bright future to its more than 400,000,000 poeple.  But India needs the technical knowledge of the western world.  For example, working with Indian engineers and technicians, Union Carbide recently made available its vast scientific resources to help build a major chemicals and plastics plant near Bombay.  Throughout the free world, Union Carbide has been actively engaged in building plants for the manufacture of chemicals, plastics, carbons, gases, and metals.  The people of Union Carbide welcome the opportunity to use their knowledge and sills in partnership with the citizens of so many great countries.

UPDATE:  In the comments, Village Idiot mentioned the imagery which I, ironically, lost sight of in favor of the text.  The great white hand (of God?) pouring what looks like blood out of a scientific beaker onto a scene of dark figures!  Wow!

Found at Vintage Ads thanks to Ben O.

Here are two videos from MTV’s Think campaign (both found here):

I am not at all sure what the message is here–just a general “fear your government” warning? A comment on the Bush Administration’s policies? The Patriot Act? Also note that the message is that the Holocaust happened to people like us–not that it was done by people like us, which might be a more interesting message.

Anyway, I think this could be compared to the PETA posters in a discussion about history and who has the right to use it how. Will everyone see these images as offensive? Is any use of the Holocaust as an example or comparison automatically offensive? Would campaigns that use the Holocaust be as offensive to people if they used the genocide in Rwanda instead? Who gets to claim the right to use images and symbols of historical events, including horrible tragedies, and in what ways can they use them?

Thanks to Simone for pointing these out!

These images were all used (along with lots of others) in a 2003 campaign in which PETA, obviously, compared modern agricultural practices and eating meat with the Holocaust:


Found here.


Found here.


Found here.

I assume it will not surprise anyone to learn that many people were offended by the campaign. I can imagine using these images in courses on food/agriculture, social movements, natural resources and the environment (especially in discussions of what rights non-human animals have), and even lectures about historical memory (for instance, when and how does it become acceptable to use historical tragedies like the Holocaust as symbols in other arguments, rather than as events in and of themselves?).

Thanks to an anonymous poster for pointing this campaign out!

NEW: Elizabeth (from Blog of Stench) sent in this ad (found here) PETA apparently attempted to run in the Portage Daily Graphic in Manitoba, Canada:

The ad references an incident on a bus in Manitoba where a man beheaded a fellow passenger and compares it to the slaughtering of animals.

Thanks, Elizabeth!

Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever seen so many symbols of masculinity mobilized in so short a time. I had to watch it three times:


Thanks a bunch to Christine who recommended this in our comments.

This is a cover of Vogue featuring LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen. Notice the postures: LeBron as the hulking, angry black man, and Gisele as arm candy. Apparently this issue has a whole section on “the World’s Top Models and Star Athletes.” Hmmm, I wonder what the gender breakdown is?

Notice also the way in which the image reproduces the famous King Kong imagery:

Here is a link to an MSNBC segment on the cover.

Thanks to Carmela Z. for sending this image along!

NEW (Jan ’10)!  Ruth D’R. and a reader-who-wishes-to-remain-anonymous sent us this (highly photoshopped) photo of Kanye West and Lady Gaga, one of the images in her “Fame Monster” CD liner notes.  Some argue that it, too, reproduces the racialized King Kong imagery in which a black man (threatens to) ravage a white woman:


Some may think that this is a reach.  But I think her nudity, plus the symbols of primitivity (the plants, the erupting volcano, and even the khakis) clearly invoke animalism.

This campaign ad from 1988 is part of the larger politicization of the black underclass. “Willie Horton” and the “welfare queen” both emerged as symbols during this period with which to demonize poor blacks for political clout. Ultimately, using the name Willie Horton became a powerful tool to criticize politicians for being weak on crime and not protecting the innocent white population from the guilty black population.


Ultimately, increasing toughness of the criminal justice system led to a situation, today, where about 1/2 of all black men are in the prison system. See an interesting entry on Willie Horton on wikipedia here.