I just saw a story about this image on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” (image found here):

It is a “joke” included in the “October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated” (I read more about it here; the group is from San Bernardino, CA), in which they claim that if Obama wins, his face will be on food stamps, not dollar bills. From a story in The Press-Enterprise:

Fedele [the group’s president] said she got the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to reprint it for her members in the Trumpeter newsletter because she was offended that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She declined to say who sent her the e-mails with the illustration. She said she doesn’t think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president. “I didn’t see it the way that it’s being taken. I never connected,” she said. “It was just food to me. It didn’t mean anything else.”

Uh huh. Right. Who could possibly have known that African Americans were historically portrayed in racist carictures eating fried chicken, ribs, and/or watermelon, or that there’s a long-standing political tradition of trying to connect Blacks and welfare in the public mind?

Honestly, it’s been awhile since an image of Obama actually made me gasp, but that one did.

UPDATE: Larry, from the L.A. TimesDaily Mirror blog, sent in a link to this post at the blog Please God No, in which the author claims to be the creator of the Obama bucks cartoon and says,

It was a satirical look at some of the Fox News watching right-wingers out there that are afraid of a government that sponsors welfare type programs. It was intended to poke fun at the unrealistic fears and agenda of racism that a fringe element of Republicans strongly embrace.

The author continues,

This “cartoon” (as described in the media), was meant to empower African Americans to stand up for and defend themselves against racial intolerance. This “cartoon” was prescribed to showcase the racial hatred and intolerance towards the “left” and it’s liberal “welfare” economic plan. Guess what? The radical right picked up this fumble and ran with it right into the opponents goal line. The fact that a website like this exists is not evidence of racial hatred or divide, but the fact that an image taken from this website was used in a legitimate publication to promote the Conservative agenda must be proof of either existing racism or utter stupidity.

I thought the author’s response might be interesting for a discussion of political parody and humor and the limits of satire. What makes political humor effective and what makes it, as in this case, actually appeal to the group the humorist claimed to be mocking? If people miss the satire, is that because they’re dumb or because the satire isn’t that good? If someone says they’re being satirical, does that automatically shield them from any accusations of sexism, racism, etc.? I really find the issue of humor to be fascinating–what we find funny, what happens when some groups don’t recognize what another group claims was an attempt to be humorous, and how claims of being satirical or “just joking” can be used to avoid responsibility for the content of statements or images. This seems like a particularly good example of some of those issues.

Dara G. sent in a link to this billboard in West Plains, Missouri, featuring a caricature of Obama in a turban meant to imply he’s an Arab/Muslim (found here):

NEW!  Here’s another (found here):


For other examples of accusations that Obama is Arab/Muslim (and that that is bad), see here, here, here, and here. For a non-racist caricature of Obama (showing it can, indeed, be done), see this post.

Thanks, Dara!

And I just saw on Rachel Maddow’s show that this image showed up briefly on the Sacramento County Republican Party’s website (image found here):

There’s more!

This image is from a recent rally (found here):

And, if you haven’t seen it yet, here is the by-now-classic video of supporters of a McCain rally yelling that Obama is a “terrorist” bound on spreading “terror” (found here):

I presume you can figure out for yourself how these might be used in classes. Negative messages about Arabs/Muslims, attempts to use fear of the connection between Arabs and terrorism, joking about torture, racist imagery, etc. etc….You don’t need me for this one.

To be fair, McCain, in at least one instance, has been attempting to temper this fervor. But, as Gwen mentioned in a previous post, those who stir up hatred often have a difficult time controlling it. I’d love to have some social psychologists weigh in on the phenomenon.

NEW! Man in Ohio hangs Obama from a tree in his front yard and boldly claims racist motivation (found here):

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, weekly earnings rose 0.9 percent last year and the overall inflation rate was 4.1:


Found at Everyday Sociology.  Click to enlarge.

Historians argue that what constitutes a good childhood and, relatedly, good parenting has changed dramatically over time.  Today, keeping children busy with lessons (in this, that, and the other) seems to be one version of ideal parenthood/childhood.  I thought this ad nicely illustrated this new ideal:

Found at MultiCult Classics.

See also this post on constructions of modern parenthood.

There is a lot going on here.  Comments after the image (found at MultiCultClassics):  

First, notice how this ad mobilizes a nostalgia for a simpler past (“We’re bakers”).  Goldfish crackers are likely baked not by bakers (how quaint), but in large automated factories.  Second, in line with this nostalgia, Pepperidge Farm, the company, is recast as a parents (“We’re bakers. But we’re parents, too”) instead of a corporation in a capitalistic society likely employing low-wage workers (who are not, by the way, busy caring about consumers kids).  Notice that, by re-casting the company as parents, they encourage you to think of the company’s motives not as profit, but nurturing.  Third, the Goldfish crackers themselves are anthropomorphized into a happy parent and child. Finally, happiness and family togetherness are commodified. Text:

That’s why we bake Goldfish crackers the way we do. Natural. With no artificual preservatives adn zero grams trans fat. Made with whole grains, real cheese, and plenty of smiles. For tips and tools to help keep your kids smiling, visit fishfulthinking.com. Because we believe kids should be happy and healthy.

I use TV dinners to show my students that nearly everything, even things they’d never expect, are awash in race, gender, and class meaning.

Hungry-Man is probably the most obviously meaning-laden of the TV dinners.  It is aimed directly at men, of course, with one and a half pounds of food, an excellent blue box, and a strong font in all capital letters.  But it also advertises a particularly working-class masculinity.  In these two boxes, notice the references to “backyard barbeque” and “sports” (XXL).  The food itself, barbeque chicken and pork, mashed potatoes, and beer battered chicken, reinforces this class message.  But this is also about race, as the working-class masculinity is implicitly white.

Stouffer’s, in contrast, is more moderate.  The font for the brand is cursive, for the meal in lower-case.  Without being over the top, it still passes as masculine.

Stouffer’s bistro, in contrast, is a feminine version.  References to a “bistro” makes you think of France (a notoriously feminized country) and the meal here is a “crustini” (something a “real” man would never eat).

Healthy Choice seems to go further towards neutralizing its brand.  The green color is neutral and using the term “healthy,” instead of “diet” or a similar word, keeps the brand from being too feminine.  Plus, there’s a running MAN in the logo.  Still, there’s a feminine feel to the food choices.  The first meal is “Roasted Chicken Marsala… in Wine Sauce with Penne Pasta [and] Green Bean and Red Pepper Medley.”  The second includes “Caramel Apple Crisp” and “Broccoli Florets.”  Descriptions of truly manly food would not include “wine,” “medley,” “crisp,” or “florets.”

The Cafe Steamers sub-brand further feminizes Healthy Choice.  Notice the cursive font and the double reference to “merlot.”

Lean Cuisine is the most feminized brand.  Between the turqoise and orange color scheme, the reference to slimness with the word “lean,” and the delicate all lower-case font on the boxes, the fact that the product is aimed at women is clear.  There is also a class message.  Who eats “Szechuan Style Stir Fry with Shrimp”?  Not the same guy that eats “Backyard Barbeque.”

I saw this shirt online at a site advertised on YouTube. It also comes in “women’s cut” tees and spaghetti string tank tops. The story here is old…

Also see the last t-shirt in this post: “I like my women like my chicken, battered.”

Eric S. sent us a link to the webpage for the Sun-Maid Girl, the girl used to represent Sun-Maid raisins. Here is the original painting of the first Sun-Maid Girl, Lorraine Collett Peterson:

The logo was most recently updated in 1970; here is the current incarnation:

In discussing the original painting, the website says,

Sometimes we forget that in 1915 there were no electric hair dryers, that television would not be invented for decades to come, and that automobiles were not in every home. Life was much simpler, more rural, a lot less hectic and sunbonnets were still part of women’s fashion in California.

I like the romanticization of the past there. In 1915…World War I was going on. I guess life was “less hectic” in that you didn’t have a Blackberry to check every 15 seconds, but overall, I’m not sure I’d say it was “simpler” in a way that implies everyone had time to just sit around eating raisins and drying their hair in the sun.

Also from the website:

To Payne, the sight of the red sunbonnet and the pretty girl in the morning sun was the ideal personification of E.A. Berg’s brand name SUN-MAID.

This might be an interesting addition to some of the images in this, this, and this post about the sexualization of food. Whereas the women in those instances are mostly explicitly sexualized, in this case, the product is being associated with an idealized, non-sexual “maiden” version of femininity. I just thought it might make a good contrast if you’re discussing connections between women and food–the use of female sexuality and idealized female chasteness as marketing tactics related to food products. I wonder if Sun-Maid has stayed with the de-sexualized icon because raisins are associated with children?

FYI, Sun-Maid was one of the companies boycotted by United Farm Workers of America, the group let by Cesar Chavez.

Thanks, Eric S.!

NEW: In a comment Adriana pointed us to Ester Hernandez’s parody of the Sun-Maid girl:

Thanks, Adriana!


The things women have to put up with. Most husbands, nowadays, have stopped beating their wives, but what can be more agonizing to a sensitive soul than a man’s boredom at meals. Yet, lady, there must be a reason. If your cooking and not your conversation is monotonous, that’s easily fixed. [Ed. – Though apparently boring conversation is a life sentence.] Start using soups more often, with lighter, more varied dishes to follow. Heinz makes 18 varieties. You can serve a different one every day for three weeks. Use them in your cooking too, and strike some new flavours that will lift ordinary dishes out of the commonplace.

Vintage ad found here thanks to Laura R.