Monday, May 31, 2010
The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster just gets worse every day. You know it’s bad when a “solution” dubbed Top Kill fails to even slow things down. BP is making the Exxon Valdez look like The Love Boat.
The apologetic advertising campaign is pretty pathetic too. Most peculiar is how BP welcomes volunteers. Why would anyone in their right mind offer free services to a gazillion-dollar corporation? In this case, saving a pelican requires working in highly toxic and hazardous conditions, folks. BP could actually generate positive spin by creating tons of new cleanup-related jobs, reversing unemployment trends and ultimately stimulating the economy.
In the meantime, MultiCultClassics volunteers an idea to fix the mess.
From The New York Times…
Blacks in Memphis Lose Decades of Economic Gains
By Michael Powell
MEMPHIS — For two decades, Tyrone Banks was one of many African-Americans who saw his economic prospects brightening in this Mississippi River city.
A single father, he worked for FedEx and also as a custodian, built a handsome brick home, had a retirement account and put his eldest daughter through college.
Then the Great Recession rolled in like a fog bank. He refinanced his mortgage at a rate that adjusted sharply upward, and afterward he lost one of his jobs. Now Mr. Banks faces bankruptcy and foreclosure.
“I’m going to tell you the deal, plain-spoken: I’m a black man from the projects and I clean toilets and mop up for a living,” said Mr. Banks, a trim man who looks at least a decade younger than his 50 years. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. But my whole life is backfiring.”
Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.
The median income of black homeowners in Memphis rose steadily until five or six years ago. Now it has receded to a level below that of 1990 — and roughly half that of white Memphis homeowners, according to an analysis conducted by Queens College Sociology Department for The New York Times.
Black middle-class neighborhoods are hollowed out, with prices plummeting and homes standing vacant in places like Orange Mound, White Haven and Cordova. As job losses mount — black unemployment here, mirroring national trends, has risen to 16.9 percent from 9 percent two years ago; it stands at 5.3 percent for whites — many blacks speak of draining savings and retirement accounts in an effort to hold onto their homes. The overall local foreclosure rate is roughly twice the national average.
The repercussions will be long-lasting, in Memphis and nationwide. The most acute economic divide in America remains the steadily widening gap between the wealth of black and white families, according to a recent study by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. For every dollar of wealth owned by a white family, a black or Latino family owns just 16 cents, according to a recent Federal Reserve study.
The Economic Policy Institute’s forthcoming “The State of Working America” analyzed the recession-driven drop in wealth. As of December 2009, median white wealth dipped 34 percent, to $94,600; median black wealth dropped 77 percent, to $2,100. So the chasm widens, and Memphis is left to deal with the consequences.
“This cancer is metastasizing into an economic crisis for the city,” said Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr. in his riverfront office. “It’s done more to set us back than anything since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”
Read the full story here.
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
Great day for old war stories
Tuskegee Airman tells of crashing behind enemy lines in WWII
By Maudlyne Ihejirika, Staff Reporter
The 90-year-old South Side war veteran still vividly recalls the crash landing as if it were yesterday.
It was during World War II when Welton Taylor, a liaison pilot and member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military air squad, was serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations, flying L-4 and L-5 aircraft with the 93rd Infantry Division.
Taylor saw combat on the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Philippines.
On a non-combat mission, delivering mail to the troops, his plane crashed behind Japanese lines.
“I was criminally attacked by a Japanese mountain 33 miles into Japanese territory, while flying a mission of mercy for my troops,” said Taylor, who later was to become a world-renowned scientist and educator. In 1985, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta named a bacterium, Enterobacter taylorae, after him and a British colleague.
“I was carrying their mail, and I managed to deliver all my mail and was on my way home when I saw this horrible storm building up,” he said.
“I was trying to climb over the last of the mountains when I hit the mountain. But instead of hitting on my nose, which would have exploded the gas tank on my lap, I slid down a grassy slope, losing parts of the plane as I crashed.
“I had an observer in the plane with me. We both survived,” he recounts. “I was able to walk away with only my kneecaps showing, and so I pulled my skin up over my kneecaps, sprinkled some sulfa on it and two band-aids, and kept moving. I took the compass out of the plane, because south of the equator, you cannot walk in a straight line in a forest or jungle.
“We walked for two days, and made it past two Japanese camps. On the second day, we were rescued by our troops on the beach.”
Taylor, a descendant of President Zachary Taylor, is one of several members of the 332nd Fighter Group, commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen, living in the Chicago area.
Huge WWII success
Members of the Chicago chapter, who will be marching in the annual Memorial Day Parade downtown today, were among the 450 fighter pilots who were trained at an air base in Tuskegee, Ala., to fly and maintain combat aircraft as a segregated unit. They broke barriers for African Americans.
“We’ll have our own float, with a large model of the P51 airplane, which is what the Tuskegee Airmen flew in combat in Italy,” Taylor said proudly.
The unit, which became one of the most successful flying squadrons in U.S. military history, protecting Allied bombers over some 200 escort missions in Europe, never lost one bomber under their protection to enemy fighters. They destroyed or damaged more than 400 German aircraft and more than 1,000 targets.
But despite their distinguished record, they faced discrimination back home when they returned and were never recognized until much later. In 2007, President George W. Bush collectively awarded some 300 members and their widows the Congressional Gold Medal.
“It was 61 years late. But I’m glad I stuck around and waited for it,” said the retired bacteriologist.
“Many of us are gone now. Another died yesterday at age 90, so I don’t think we’ll have as many on the float as in the past, but it’s been an unbelievable ride.”
From Advertising Age…
Jamaica Tourist Board Suspends Ad Campaign Due to Riots
Violence in Kingston Overshadows Relative Safety of Resorts
By Michael Bush
NEW YORK — Immediately after rioting broke out in Kingston, Jamaica earlier this week the Jamaica Tourist Board decided to shelve its national cable TV campaign in the U.S. until the fighting ends, the board’s deputy director said.
Rioting broke out this past Sunday after Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced he would extradite gang leader Christopher Coke to the U.S. where he is wanted on drug and gun-running charges. While Jamaican authorities are still searching for Mr. Coke, more than 70 people have been killed in the rioting.
For a country and people that rely very heavily on the revenue generated from tourism, resorts and the money spent at local shops, the rioting could not have come at a worse time. Donnie Dawson, deputy director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board, said despite the fact that the fighting is taking place away from its biggest vacation spots like Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril, he felt it was best to pull the TV spots.
“We didn’t want to have people see images of the rioting in Kingston on the news and then commercials [touting] the beautiful isle of Jamaica right next to it,” Mr. Dawson said. “That didn’t make a lot of sense so we decided to suspend all advertising right now.”
Online marketing continues
Mr. Dawson said the ad buy, which he estimated to be worth $1.6 million, was scheduled to run until mid-June. He said it will continue its marketing efforts online on travel sites and the co-op marketing efforts it currently has with other tour operators.
“Once everything is finished in Kingston we will continue with our TV ads,” he said. The board works with Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Draftfcb’s New York office.
It is doing a minimal amount of outreach to vacationers to reassure them that the country is safe to visit for vacation. Mr. Dawson said it is e-mailing select customers and those that contact them directly for information.
“There is no massive outreach [on our part] happening yet,” Mr. Dawson said. “We’re getting a certain amount of e-mails, not a whole lot, but once they are reassured that the vacation areas aren’t affected they feel comfortable. And we haven’t gotten a lot of people saying they aren’t going or canceling.”
He said there are currently no plans to produce or run any TV spots promoting the safety of the island’s vacation spots.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
From The Huffington Post…
Univision TV Owes an Apology for Racist Skit
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Univision President and CEO Joe Uva have some explaining to do. On Friday, May 28, Univision aired an outrageous, racially demeaning skit on Despierta America. The show is billed as America’s leading Spanish-language morning show.
The skit was a parody on the upcoming World Cup soccer games in South Africa. Four program participants and hosts dance and mug around the TV set with spears and outlandish Afro hair wigs to a faux jungle music beat. They seem to be thoroughly enjoying their romp through every vile, vicious and offensive stereotype that’s come down the pike on Africans. Even worse, Univision brags about its partnership with the International Federation of Association Football to televise the World Cup games.
The skit is an over the top slap in the face at the unwavering support civil rights leaders have given to Latino organizations and Latino media in their fight against racial profiling and stereotyping in the immigration battle. Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus have repeatedly and loudly condemned the draconian Arizona immigration law. And their major point of attack is that the law opens the door wide to racial profiling.
But that’s not all. The skit dredges up another ugly racial skeleton in the often thorny history of black and Latino relations. And that is inter-ethnic racism. Many Latinos refer to dark skinned persons as negritos or little black people. This is not seen as racially offensive, but rather as a term of affection even endearment. For years in Mexico, a popular afternoon telenovela had a comedian in blackface chasing madly after light complexioned actresses in skimpy outfits. Ads have featured blacks in Afros, black face, and distorted features. The most popular screen stars in film and on TV in some Latin countries, and the models featured on magazines and billboards, are white or fair skinned with sandy or blond hair. That’s the standard of beauty, culture, and sophistication that’s held up as the penultimate standard to emulate, and that standard is unabashedly commercialized, and peddled as top commodities in Mexico and other Latin American countries. In 2005, the Mexican government ignited a firestorm when it announced sale of the racially offensive cartoon character Memin Pinguin as a commemorative stamp. And now there’s the Univision skit.
The racist skit mocks and demeans Africans and African-Americans and reinforces old, stale and reprehensible stereotypes about Africa and Africans. Uva and Univision should do quick damage control and apologize for it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press).
The Goodie Mob
Using an eye-opening billboard that’s become famous around the world and some frank talk, a local church and its ‘mobsters’ take aim at New Orleans’ STD rates
By Alex Woodward
With an appearance on Vh1’s Best Week Ever and as an Internet meme around the globe, a New Orleans billboard was one of 2009’s favorite Web stars. In big, bold red letters near the Louisiana Superdome was the phrase, destined to be emailed, remailed and blogged to infinity:
“HIV… It’s Time to Take Control of This GANGSTA!”
The names and faces of the gangbusting crew (dubbed the “HIV Prevention Mobsters” and written in a Godfather-style script) are displayed underneath, led by da Condom Godfather, with da Trich Terminator, da Crabs Assassin, da Chlamydia Crusher and da Herpes Hitwoman — among others.
The crew belongs to the St. John No. 5 Baptist Faith Church and Camp ACE HIV Program, a faith-based organization offering free condoms and frank, open discussions about sex and sexually transmitted diseases — and their phones rang off the hook once the billboard made headlines.
“We got calls, people saying, ‘Can I speak to the mobsters?’ And we start laughing,” says executive director Tamachia Davenport. “‘Which one are you? What’s your name? Let me speak to da Gonorrhea Crusher.’”
Davenport also was surprised at the April 22 New Orleans City Council meeting, where the program directors, wearing bright red T-shirts, promoted the group’s May 15 event, the second annual HIV Awareness Extravaganza. Councilmembers Arnie Fielkow and Cynthia Willard-Lewis showered the group with praise, commending them for their service. Davenport says she knew the council had her back, but she didn’t expect councilmembers to know her name.
“St. John (No. 5) provides a wonderful program that is vitally important given the increase of HIV in New Orleans, especially in minority communities,” City Council President Arnie Fielkow said in an email to Gambit. Fielkow also encourages people to take advantage of testing programs to protect themselves and their families.
“That’s an advantage of being faith-based in this fight,” Davenport says. “We’ve been the faith-based (organization) that provides the testing, provides the sessions, provides the events, the conversation, that distributes condoms. We’re probably on the extreme end of the fight, but we’ve been seeing more faith-based (organizations) — whether it’s churches, mosques, synagogues, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics — evolve in the fight we started 14 years ago.”
St. John No. 5 started the Camp ACE (Alert Community Empowerment) social ministry program in 1989. Following the opening of a summer camp, the church started offering other programs, including an education department offering afterschool tutoring and GED prep.
Through that education program, Davenport says, the church saw the need to address HIV. Kids were talking about it, and some church members disclosed to pastor Bruce Davenport Sr. they had tested positive for the syndrome (he had come across some HIV-positive members of his flock while he was visiting others in the hospital). The pastor didn’t understand why HIV-positive members weren’t asking the church for help.
“They feared they’d be ostracized — exiled — from church,” Tamachia says. “He decided the church itself needed to take a stand. The community as a whole was asking faith-based organizations to step up and deal with HIV.”
Read the full story here.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Campaign comedy in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• General Motors is being sued for an advertisement using a likeness of Albert Einstein. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem owns the property rights to the iconic genius, and university officials think the ad doesn’t portray Einstein in a proper style. On the other hand, GM insists they had secured usage rights. A GM spokesperson said, “We did what responsible advertisers do. We used a well-known, reputable firm to license the image. That comes with a guarantee that they have the appropriate usage rights.” Um, since when has GM been a responsible advertiser?
• Kraft has launched a new campaign for its Macaroni & Cheese Dinner that targets adults. The food maker has recently been curtailing its ads targeting kids, citing an alleged concern for the childhood obesity epidemic and kids’ overall well-being. Kraft is apparently balancing the efforts by now peddling its junk food to grown-ups.
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
Big tobacco shifts ads to target world’s women
Marketing focuses on flavored brands, shiny packaging
By Christine Mathias
A sweeping survey of over a dozen developing countries and their attitudes toward tobacco has found that young women are increasingly being lured into the death trap that is cigarette addiction.
Having successfully conquered the global male demographic, the tobacco industry is shifting its focus to the female market with flavored brands and bright-and-shiny packaging.
I started smoking when I was 15, despite having crazy asthma, probably because kids I knew smoked, my mom smoked, and I was convinced of my own invincibility.
I told myself throughout my 20s that I would quit when I decided to have a baby, because I refused to be one of those girls with the bulging abdomen, a glass of Gallo and ash hanging off the end of my Pall Mall. Now I’m in my early 30s, with no desire to have a kid, and my best-laid-plan has gone kaboom.
My husband and I are on the nicotine patch, and I’ve cut my intake by 75 percent, but that last 25 percent seems like a climb.
But I have the benefit of easy access to smoking cessation products, hotlines, free literature and support groups, and, to a lesser degree, skyrocketing tobacco prices to act as a deterrent. The women in the surveyed countries, including Bangladesh, Thailand, and Uruguay aren’t going to walk into Costco and buy three weeks of Nicoderm for 30 bucks.
And with incredibly high numbers of male smokers in these regions, no national campaigns to guilt people into quitting and very few restrictions on advertising and marketing, not smoking begins to lose its luster. Because despite the risks, smoking is delicious—nicotine addiction is insidious and persistent and wonderful all at once.
You might have heard about Kelly Clarkson’s run-in with tobacco marketing overseas—an Indonesian company was sponsoring her concert and put her face on a huge billboard with a pack of smokes; the U.S. outrage was profound and noisy. But it’s par for the course there, where advertising strategies are both audacious and cloying.
We perfected this kind of pandering in the U.S., and the greediest facets of our brand of capitalism have snaked their way into areas of the planet that don’t have the resources to dedicate to prevention.
Christine Mathias is a San Francisco-based writer and radio producer.
Friday, May 28, 2010
From The New York Times…
Gary Coleman, ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ Star, Dies at 42
By Anita Gates
Gary Coleman, the former child star of the hit television series “Diff’rent Strokes,” who dealt with a well-publicized string of financial and personal difficulties after the show ended, died in Provo, Utah, on Friday. He was 42 and lived in Santaquin, a small town near Provo.
Mr. Coleman was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Wednesday as a result of a head injury caused by a fall. He suffered an intercranial hemorrhage and died after being removed from life support, a hospital spokeswoman, Janet Frank, told The Associated Press.
Mr. Coleman had been hospitalized twice earlier this year with seizure-related problems. But he had also been in and out of hospitals all his life because of congenital kidney disease, the treatment for which stunted his growth.
Mr. Coleman was 4 feet 8 inches tall. He had his first kidney transplant at 5, and his second when he was 16.
“Diff’rent Strokes,” seen on NBC from 1978 to 1985 and on ABC from 1985 to 1986, was a comedy about a wealthy white New Yorker (Conrad Bain) who adopts two underprivileged black sons. Mr. Coleman’s role made his character, Arnold Jackson, the little-boy version of America’s sweetheart. The show was a sensation, and Mr. Coleman became its breakout star. But there was an undercurrent to the show’s portrayals.
“At the time, Arnold struck audiences as an endlessly endearing trickster figure, whose Harlem-based sensitivity to being hustled had been reduced to a sweetie-pie affectation: ‘What you talkin’ about, Willis?’ ” Virginia Heffernan wrote in The New York Times in 2006, quoting Mr. Coleman’s signature line. “Arnold was supposed to be shrewd and nobody’s fool, but also misguided; after learning his lessons, he was easily tamed and cuddled.” Ms. Heffernan declared the characterization a form of minstrelsy.
As he grew up and looked back, Mr. Coleman saw himself as having been used. He sued his parents and his former manager in 1989 for misappropriation of his trust fund. In 1999 he filed for bankruptcy.
Beginning in the 1990s, he was also arrested several times, charged with assault and disorderly conduct. Just a year ago he was arrested on domestic violence charges. He and his wife, the former Shannon Price, appeared on the reality show “Divorce Court” in 2008 but remained together.
Gary Wayne Coleman was born on Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., a small city in the state’s northeastern corner. He was adopted as an infant by W. G. Coleman, a forklift operator, and his wife, Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner.
As a young boy, he was cast in a commercial for a Chicago bank, offering a toy lion as a promotion. “You should have a Hubert doll,” the boy told viewers. Years later, Bob Greene, the Chicago Tribune columnist, recalled Mr. Coleman’s impact in that local ad campaign: “If there is chemistry with the camera, six words can make you a star.”
He was spotted by an agent for the television producer Norman Lear and brought to Hollywood for a project that never came to fruition, a new version of the “Our Gang” comedies. Instead he was cast in “Diff’rent Strokes” and was soon earning thousands of dollars per episode.
But after the series ended, his career spiraled downward. He made 20 or so television appearances during the two decades that followed the end of the series, as well as a handful of feature films. (His last was “Midgets vs. Mascots,” a broad 2009 comedy.) But he also tried earning a living outside show business, even working as a security guard at one point.
His difficulties are parodied in the Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q,” in which a character named Gary Coleman was the superintendent of a run-down building in a highly undesirable neighborhood. Mr. Coleman talked about suing the show’s producers, but nothing ever came of the threats.
His survivors include his wife.
Mr. Coleman readily talked to interviewers about how unhappy his television success and its trappings had made him. “I would not give my first 15 years to my worst enemy,” he told The Vancouver Province, a Canadian newspaper. “And I don’t even have a worst enemy.”
From The New York Daily News…
Detroit bus system rejects ‘Leaving Islam?’ ads as ‘pure anti-Muslim hate’
By Anjali Khosla Mullany and Corky Siemaszko
Daily News Staff Writers
Motown has no use for the anti-Muslim ads plastered across the sides of buses in New York City.
Detroit’s SMART bus system has rejected the button-pushing placards that read “Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you? Leaving Islam?” — and direct Muslims to a Web site urging them to leave the “falsity of Islam.”
“It’s a purely anti-Muslim hate issue,” Dawud Walid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Detroit News on Friday.
“The SMART bus company, or any bus company, should not be used to marginalize a minority group.”
Defenders of the ads, dreamed up by Manhattan-based right wing blogger Pamela Geller and the New York-based Stop the Islamization of America, say it’s a free speech issue and they have sued.
“Americans have a right to know the truth; Islam is a religion of intolerance and violence,” said Michigan lawyer Richard Thompson, who filed the suit.
“Christians, Jews and other non-Muslim minorities are persecuted in every country where Islam dominates.”
The MTA has not tried to remove the 40 ads, which Geller said cost her group $10,000 for a one-month run, because they do not violate agency advertising guidelines.
In April, the Miami bus system at first rejected the ads but relented when Geller’s group threatened to sue.
A leader in the fight against the proposed mosque near Ground Zero who has Tea Party ties, Geller has been branded a bigot by CAIR and other groups.
She also caused a stir in the right-wing blogosphere by videotaping a denunciation of Palestinian terrorists — while dressed in a bikini.
In an interview with The Daily News, Geller said she didn’t care if Muslims were offended by the ads. “Will it bother Islamic supremacists? Yes,” she said.
From The Washington Post…
‘Diff’rent Strokes’ star Gary Coleman in critical condition in Utah hospital
From The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY—Former child television star Gary Coleman is in critical condition near his Utah home with what his family calls a “serious medical problem.” Utah Valley Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Janet Frank said Coleman, 42, was admitted to the Provo facility Wednesday but she couldn’t release any other details.
Coleman’s Utah lawyer, Randy Kester, said he had communicated by text message with Coleman’s wife, Shannon Price, and that the family did not want to release any additional details at this time. “Anything they could say would be premature because they don’t know the full extent of his condition right now,” Kester said.
Price and her father released a statement Thursday to KUTV-TV saying Coleman was taken to the hospital with “a serious medical problem.” The statement asks for prayers, adding: “We hope those prayers are answered and that Gary will be able to recover and return home soon.”
The former star of TV’s “Diff’rent Strokes” has had a string of financial and legal problems, in addition to continuing ill health from the kidney disease he suffered as a child. Coleman has had at least two kidney transplants and receives dialysis.
Last fall, Coleman had heart surgery that was complicated by pneumonia, Kester said.
Jim Edwards at BNET reported that MetroPCS produced more offensive shit featuring stereotypical characters Ranjit and Chad. Additionally, the telecommunications company is declaring the work has increased sales. Check out Edwards’ full story.
“There have been many positive responses by people who find the commercials humorous, as it was originally intended,” said Bob Fant, MetroPCS vice president of advertising and brand development. “There also have been some reactions from those who have taken offense. The positive reactions have heavily outnumbered the negative ones.”
Sorry, but Fant is a moron. Of course there will be more fans than haters—that’s the nature of being in the minority. Too bad Fant doesn’t realize unhappy minorities can hold greater influence than the ignorant majority. But hey, that’s what happens when you’re taking advice from a predominately White and culturally clueless advertising agency.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Bad Boys in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced for up to five years in prison for violating terms of his probation. If his cell phone texting service is with AT&T, it will bring new meaning to, “More bars in more places.”
• Jesse James was criticized for appearing in a photo striking a Nazi pose. James said, “I think out of everything … dealing with losing my marriage and my son and embarrassing everyone and decimating my life, but to be called a racist on top of that is, it makes me really sad.” Yeah, this guy is sad.
• Rap mogul Suge Knight was arrested last week for threatening a man with a gun. To be clear, Knight had the gun. Although that was probably obvious, no?
Ever wanted to learn more about the actor who portrays Hollis the elevator attendant on AMC series Mad Men? Of course not. But here’s an interview with the man anyway.
Q&A — La Monde Byrd
La Monde Byrd, who plays Hollis the elevator attendant in the building that houses Sterling Cooper, spoke to AMCtv.com about his favorite scene and his character’s snazzy uniform.
Q: Do you get claustrophobic performing in an elevator?
A: I don’t. I don’t look at it as La Monde inside the elevator. It’s just what [Hollis] does every day.
Q: Is it even a real elevator?
A: Nope, it’s not a real elevator. It’s a small space but it’s not a functional elevator.
Q: You have some memorable exchanges with a number of Sterling Cooper employees. What would you say is your favorite exchange?
A: In season three, that scene with Pete Campbell and Hollis, that was really a rich scene for me. The audience was able to take a look at how Hollis really feels. A lot of times you see how Hollis is being somewhat subdued or very patient and calm. But with that scene, we actually saw Hollis put his guard down and kind of come straight with what he really thinks. We saw a break in the armor, and it was just an honest moment.
Q: Is there an art to being a bystander to other people’s conversations?
A: I think you definitely have to maintain presence, i.e. maintain focus, because even though you’re not speaking or there’s one or two words that Hollis says, he’s still present in the scene. Even if it’s just a look away or the way that he responds or says “tenth floor,” everything that’s happening around him is still affecting him as a person. I think the main thing is to stay present and to listen. Listening is a big part of Hollis’ job.
Q: You wear a suit in all your scenes.
A: I’m wearing that suit, and dang, they got these buttons, these really slick buttons. I don’t know if you can see it on the television, but these buttons are classic. They’re like the classiest buttons I’ve ever seen in my life.
Q: You’ve produced and written films and you got your MFA from the American Film Institute. Is there anything you’ve learned from working on Mad Men that’s helped your film career?
A: I’d be a fool if I didn’t learn. Every time I’m on the set I’m watching, I’m learning. I’ve had the great opportunity to sit in on all of the table reads for the episodes I’ve been a part of. One thing that I always try to pay attention to is the writing, and hearing the actors breathe life into it. I’m always listening.
Hat tip to Kiss My Black Ads
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
From The New York Times…
Black Farmers’ Bias Payments Come Too Late for Some
By Ashley Southall
On a recent Sunday in rural Macon, N.C., John W. Boyd Jr., the president of the National Black Farmers Association, went to his fourth funeral in a week.
Mr. Boyd has been burying his group’s members with bitter frequency, attending two or three funerals most weeks. Each death makes him feel as if he is running out of time.
Wrangling over the federal budget in Washington has delayed payouts from a $1.25 billion settlement that Mr. Boyd and several others helped negotiate with the federal government to compensate black farmers who claimed that the Agriculture Department had discriminated against them in making loans.
“I thought that the elderly farmers would get their money and get to live a few happy days of their lives,” Mr. Boyd, a Virginia farmer who is not a plaintiff in the settlement, said in an interview. “They deserve the money before they leave God’s earth.”
A lawyer at one of the firms handling the farmers’ claims said last week that a majority of eligible farmers were over 65 and most were in poor health. Younger relatives, she said, often filed claims for farmers who are ill or dead. The lawyer, who asked that her name and that of her firm be withheld because she was not authorized to speak on the matter, added, “We have a lot of death certificates.”
Their cases are an outgrowth of Pigford v. Glickman, a federal discrimination lawsuit brought by Timothy Pigford and about 400 other black farmers.
They alleged that from 1981 through mid-1997, Agriculture Department officials ignored complaints that they were denied aid comparable to what white farmers received because they were black.
In 1999, the government agreed to settle the suit and has paid just over $1 billion for nearly 16,000 claims while denying another 7,000.
An estimated 80,000 farmers were shut out of the case on the grounds that their claims were filed too late. In 2002, the judge presiding over Pigford decided not to admit their claims, which the farmers said resulted from insufficient notice by the government and clumsy work by their lawyers. But the judge warned the lawyers that their work was “bordering on legal malpractice.”
In 2008, Congress set aside $100 million to address late claims.
Then in February, the farmers and the Obama administration reached a settlement to pay out an additional $1.15 billion, and President Obama, who co-sponsored the 2008 measure as a senator, included the money in his proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year.
The amount each farmer will receive will not be determined until all the claims have been vetted, said Andrew Marks, a lawyer with Crowell & Moring in Washington, one of the firms representing the farmers. Some 30,000 claims have been filed, he said, and lawyers expect a “significant” number of additional claims.
In the 1999 settlement, successful plaintiffs filing basic claims received $50,000 tax free. The money is half what the farmers sought, but the administration’s promise of a quick resolution prompted them to accept the deal, Mr. Boyd said.
Congress missed a March 31 deadline set by the administration to provide financing, which would have allowed payments to start by the summer of 2011.
The farmers agreed to give the government an extension through May 31. The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that includes the settlement.
The settlement has strong support across party lines, but some lawmakers are worried that the bill’s costs have not been offset by corresponding cuts in spending.
If Congress misses another deadline, the farmers can withdraw from the settlement, which most are reluctant to do.
Mr. Boyd suggested that Mr. Obama circumvent Congress and pay farmers out of the same special Treasury Department fund used to pay Pigford claims.
So far, Mr. Obama has deferred to Congress. Some farmers have speculated that the president is shying away from the issue because it involves race. The White House said that was untrue.
“The president’s approach to this is not based on the color of skin but because of what is right,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary.
One of the farmers who had filed a claim was Addie Haynes, who inherited an 18-acre tobacco and corn farm in Whiteville, N.C., when her husband died in 1958. She and their five children worked for years to pay off $56,000 in debt on the farm. The Agriculture Department turned down her 1983 request for a loan to help buy seed and equipment.
“That’s when the trouble really began,” said her oldest daughter, Pauline Haynes-George. “All along my dad could do the farming and pay on his bill. But by my mother being a little black lady and a widow, it was just getting to be hard for her.”
Eventually, the Hayneses surrendered equipment and 14 acres to pay off the debt, which had grown to more than $80,000. Mrs. Haynes died in 2004.
“It would relieve her heart to know that her children could get a rebate from the hardship that she went though,” Mrs. Haynes-George, 69, said.
At 78, Harvey White wonders what might happen to his 200-acre soybean and cotton farm in Prentiss, Miss.
He said Agriculture Department officials told him every year from 1967 to 1986 that they could not lend him money for equipment, seed and fertilizer.
The settlement would help him to repay the loans he used to sustain the farm, build a home and put five children through college. Mr. White, who still farms, said he would also buy a car with air-conditioning to take his 76-year-old wife, Mary, to her thrice-weekly dialysis appointments.
“I just want to make a living off my farm,” he said.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
In a move that likely has no ties to Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Carmen Van Kerckhove has decided to retire from the race and diversity game and take up a new fight—literally—running Brooklyn-based karate school Urban Martial Arts with her husband.
Carmen’s race-based résumé includes founder and publisher of Racialicious, co-founder and president of diversity training firm New Demographic, cultural commentator for CNN, MSNBC and other media sources, creator of multiple blogs and more.
Let’s hope Carmen’s retirement is in the style of Michael Jordan or Brett Favre. All the best.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Advertising Age reported on the Chevy account shifting from Publicis to Goodby Silverstein & Partners, publishing a whining memo typed by Publicis chairman-CEO Susan Gianinno, as well as a story titled, “Behind the Chevrolet Shift: Publicis Didn’t Rate a Callback,” which offered behind-the-scenes details on the event.
Gee, this scenario really drives home the exclusivity and arrogance of Whites in the advertising industry.
Publicis is crying foul because new General Motors/Chevy CMO Joel Ewanick opted to dump them in favor of GSP—an agency that has produced successful work with Ewanick in the past—sans a review or even a courtesy phone call.
Oh, such horrors! Decisions are being made based on personal relationships and subjective preferences. To quote Gianinno’s silly memo, “How could this happen?”
Imagine if Gianinno were running a multicultural shop, and she had to accept GM’s decision to replace the minorities with a White agency. At least Gianinno was part of a straight swap—White for White. Gianinno shed no tears when GM screwed multicultural shops, and she likely didn’t feel remorse when her agency booted Campbell-Ewald, the incumbent for 91 years.
Additionally, GSP is a gazillion times better than Publicis in every way, shape and form. As White ad executives are quick to declare when accused of hiring discrimination, people in our industry are judged solely on talent. Nothing more, nothing less.
However, this declaration apparently doesn’t apply when the ones facing judgment are White people.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Chicago Tribune reported McDonald’s has no intention of retiring Ronald McDonald, with company CEO Jim Skinner declaring, “[Ronald] is a force for good…he does not hawk food.” Um, what planet is this guy living on? If Ronald is not hawking food, it’s only because the fast feeder’s menu items are not technically food. And if you can’t draw a direct connection between the red-haired icon and the childhood obesity epidemic, well, you’ve probably had one McFlurry too many.
McDonald’s says it won’t retire Ronald
By Wailin Wong | McDonald’s Corp. Chief Executive Jim Skinner was unequivocal in his support of company mascot Ronald McDonald, who came under fire from two investors at the company's annual meeting Thursday.
“Ronald McDonald is not retiring,” Skinner said, prompting the audience to applaud. Skinner added sternly: “He is a force for good…he does not hawk food.”
Deborah Lapidus, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability International, had called for the retirement of Ronald McDonald and the end of marketing to children
At the entrance of the McDonald’s campus, costumed activists from Corporate Accountability waved signs at arriving attendees in a reprise of the protest they held Wednesday in downtown Chicago.
Lapidus’ remarks during the meeting were met with boos from the audience.
Later in the meeting, a retired physician also asked for the company to stop using Ronald McDonald. This time, audience members called out, “No, no,” from their seats.
Other shareholders were effusive in their praise of the company, including one man who said he likes McDonald’s coffee and requested that a decaf latte be added to the menu. Chief operating officer Don Thompson said demand for decaf specialty, espresso-based drinks appeared to be tepid when the company studied the issue a few years ago, but that McDonald’s could revisit the matter.
A “say on pay” proposal failed to pass at McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting.
The resolution, which would have given investors an advisory vote on executive compensation, garnered just 40.8 percent support in a preliminary tally at the meeting, held Thursday morning at McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook.
Proposals from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society advocating a different method of slaughter for chickens and the greater use of cage-free eggs in the U.S. also failed to pass. Each of those resolutions received less than 5 percent support.
Friday, May 21, 2010
This General Motors advertisement asks Blacks to support minority-owned dealerships, yet GM sees no need to support minority-owned advertising agencies. Brilliant.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Adweek reported that BBDO picked up the Uncle Ben’s account. Look for the agency to count the acquisition toward its diversity quotas.
Uncle Ben’s Moves to BBDO
The shift is part of an ongoing agency realignment by Mars
BBDO has added its third Mars assignment in recent months, picking up global creative chores for Uncle Ben’s.
Media spending on the brand in the U.S. alone has been in the $20 million range in recent years, sans digital, per Nielsen. TBWA was the domestic incumbent.
The move comes as part of Mars’ ongoing reorganization of its brand assignments among its primary partners such as BBDO, TBWA and DDB, all part of Omnicom, and SapientNitro, an independent shop.
Energy BBDO added Wrigley Extra in February, while the main agency pulled in Snickers late last year. Various other shifts have also taken place; for example, BBDO lost some of its Whiskas business to TBWA, which in turn ceded Dove chores to SapientNitro.
“As one of our billion dollar brands, Uncle Ben’s has obviously done well under current agency management, and with this consolidation, we are very optimistic about its future performance,” said Bruce McColl, client CMO, in a statement.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
From The Huffington Post…
Racial Wealth Disparities Report Underscores Immediate Need for Civil Rights Intervention
By Rev. Jesse Jackson
A new study released by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy revealed that even when African-Americans had a good education and well-paying jobs, they could not achieve the wealth of their white peers in the workforce. As a result the wealth disparity between white and black households has more than quadrupled, regardless of income bracket.
Disparities are driven by racial discrimination because civil rights laws have all but been abandoned over the past decade. I am making a request that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to examine ways to strengthen enforcement of civil rights laws.
For example, Attorney General Holder’s initiative — launched this year to toughen enforcement of civil rights and fair lending laws — is critical. African-Americans and Latinos have disproportionately been affected by the home foreclosure crisis, with ample studies showing these communities were steered to subprime loans when they qualified for prime rate loans.
The IASP study found that middle-income white families hold much more assets (stocks, bonds, business interests, real estate other than primary residence) than do high-income black families and that many black families hold more debt than assets and at least 25 percent of black families had no assets to turn to in times of economic hardship.
This crisis deserves a White House conference. We vote in record numbers. We serve in the military. We’re playing on athletic fields. We’re No. 1 in infant mortality. We have lower life expectancy. There’s an obvious health gap, but more than that, a broad range of structural gaps that must be addressed. We sing, dance and entertain.
Yet, there’s a painful indifference to the reduced life options of African-Americans.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Cutting remarks in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Pfizer is poised to cut 6,000 jobs and shut 8 plants worldwide. For the drug maker’s employees, side effects may include depression and thoughts of suicide. Ask your physician if he’s got a part-time job for you.
• The Rev. Jeremiah Wright wrote in a letter that President Obama “threw me under the bus.” Seems like Wright’s motor mouth did the real driving there.
The Associated Press reported that General Motors is back in the black. Despite having dumped its Black advertising agencies. Nice.
GM back in the black
Automaker posts quarterly profit, but can it sustain success, repay feds?
General Motors Co., once a symbol of U.S. industrial might, would have disappeared late in 2008 or early last year without help from the government.
But in less than a year, GM has roared back from bankruptcy to a quarterly profit. Now comes the hard part: sustaining the income and repaying billions of dollars in government aid.
There are signs GM is on track to do just that. Revenue is up 40 percent over the first quarter of last year. U.S. sales rose 17 percent for the quarter, and the automaker made an operating profit in North America, which had been a cash incinerator. Units in Asia and Latin America posted strong numbers, too.
GM announced Monday that its net income rose to $865 million, a dramatic reversal from the $6 billion it lost in the same period last year. “Today’s news was wonderful, and even better than we ever expected,” said Steven Rattner, former head of the Obama administration’s Auto Task Force.
To keep GM afloat and get it through bankruptcy court, the U.S. government gave the company $50 billion. GM repaid $6.7 billion that the government considered loans, with the remaining $43.3 billion converted to a 61 percent stake in the automaker.
For GM to pay off shareholders, including the government, a United Auto Workers union health-care trust and its old bondholders, the stock market would have to value it at more than $70 billion, almost double Ford Motor Co.’s market value of roughly $40 billion, but far less than Toyota’s $120 billion market value.
Analyst Eric Selle of JPMorgan Chase predicted last month that a GM stock sale could reach about $70 billion, selling at $113 to $137 a share.
Chris Liddell, GM’s chief financial officer, would not say Monday when an initial public offering might take place, but he was cautiously optimistic this year will be profitable.
“Certainly, over the next year, there’s a possibility we could do an IPO, but the market’s got to be ready, the automobile industry has to continue to improve, and we have to continue to improve,” he said.
Also Monday, the Treasury Department said it will lose $1.6 billion on a loan made to Chrysler in early 2009. In all, the government loaned Chrysler $7 billion as part of a total $12.53 billion bailout.
Wanted to offer a few quick thoughts on the Advertising Age editorial suggesting Madison Avenue adopt its own version of the Rooney Rule—supplementing the comments currently being generated by Derek Walker, Harry Webber and Ken Wheaton.
For starters, it’s hardly the first time someone has recommended the solution.
But as Ad Age points out, there are differences between the NFL and the advertising industry.
The NFL featured strong minority representation in the player ranks before diversifying the coaching ranks. Mad Ave only has strong minority representation in specific roles with little influence—including receptionists, mailroom attendants, security, janitorial maintenance and Chief Diversity Officers. In some ways, Mad Ave is barely at a stage where it could benefit from the Rooney Rule; rather, the industry should initiate something along the lines of Civil Rights-era affirmative action.
The NFL runs via a league system with leadership that has authority to institute change. There is no Commissioner of Madison Avenue. 4As President-CEO Nancy Hill, for example, has zero power to mandate anything except trade conference agendas and dinner menus.
The NFL can fine and officially reprimand teams for failing to comply with diversity objectives. A handful of agencies claim to reduce bonus pay for executives who miss hiring targets. Heaven forbid the negligent honchos might experience base salary cuts—or be terminated altogether.
The NFL doesn’t operate Negro Leagues, aka multicultural agencies. Minority shops—Black, Latino, Asian, GLBT, etc.—pose a sticky problem, as well as offer excuses for White agencies and clients alike. White agencies insist that they can’t horde the minority shops for talent, claiming network policies frown on recruitment between sister firms. This is bullshit, of course, as White agencies never hesitate to swap and steal White executives from anyplace, anytime, anywhere. On the other hand, clients continue to use minority shops to satisfy their own supplier diversity programs, ultimately perpetuating the unequal segregation.
The NFL and professional sports organizations condemn and/or banish people like Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder and Al Campanis for making ignorant remarks about minorities’ capabilities. Mad Ave responds to people displaying cultural cluelessness with a shrug—or praises them for being honest. Plus, the industry seemingly echoes Campanis’ sentiments through special internships and extra training at Howard University.
The NFL has a visible public image. It’s tough to hide discrimination and racism while being covered by multimedia sources worldwide. Mad Ave still enjoys a certain level of anonymity, allowing agencies to conceal the inequities. Hell, you can’t even count on Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to bring the heat on the industry.
Finally, the NFL has visionaries like Dan Rooney. Most of the key decision makers on Mad Ave look like Andy Rooney and act like Mickey Rooney (playing Andy Hardy).
Monday, May 17, 2010
PRNewswire reported that Mediaweek named the 2010 Census advertising as Multicultural and Best Branded Campaign of the Year. Right. The lead White agency produced a series of spots that made Advertising Age critic Bob Garfield remark, “What a weird choice to build the ongoing awareness campaign around a troupe of well-heeled, middle-aged white people.” Black agency GlobalHue was accused of orchestrating a shakedown whereby minority newspapers were forced to generate Census-related editorial or face losing advertising revenue. Draftfcb President-CEO Laurence Boschetto was blasted for bragging about his company’s commitment to supplier diversity—despite the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau mandated a diverse effort from its agencies. Even the New York Times recognized cultural cluelessness in the content of the program. Oh, and the actual ads were downright awful.
2010 Census Advertising Named Multicultural and Best Branded Campaign of the Year
The U.S. Census Bureau is being recognized by Mediaweek, a leading advertising industry trade publication, for its 2010 Census advertising campaign — winning both the “Best Multicultural Campaign” and “Best Branded Content” awards in the publication’s Media Plan of the Year competition.
The primary purpose of the advertising efforts were to educate and motivate households to mail back their 2010 Census forms when they arrived in March — more than 72 percent of America participated by mail, matching the rate from the last census in 2000.
“The Census Bureau is pleased to be recognized for our efforts to communicate the importance of participating in the 2010 Census in an unprecedented 28 languages and across all segments of the population,” said Census Bureau spokesperson Stephen Buckner. “The American public met the challenge and responded beyond expectations to the census, despite a significantly larger and harder-to-count population, and a continuing decline of participation in other surveys over the last 10 years.”
The integrated 2010 Census outreach and promotional efforts brought together advertising, public relations, event support, Census in Schools, and social media on a national and local basis covering every market. The effort is the result of a close partnership between the Census Bureau and Draftfcb New York, which served as the lead agency of Team Census 2010, a collaboration of 14 partner companies: GlobalHue, GlobalHue Latino, D’Exposito & Partners, Allied, G&G, IW Group, Plum, Weber Shandwick, Jack Morton, Scholastic, Allied, Initiative, and Draftfcb Puerto Rico.
The advertising portion of the campaign resulted in more than 400 ads seen across all media — television, radio, print, out-of-home, digital, cinema, social media, events and sponsorships. Extensive research and input from internal and external stakeholders were integral in the development of the various campaign elements.
“When you think about how diverse this country is and the many different cultures and languages found here, targeting literally everyone living in America is no easy task,” said Bhavana Smith, vice president, group media director at Draftfcb New York. “We’re thrilled to see that the industry has recognized such an undertaking.”
Mediaweek’s annual competition celebrates the most innovative, original and effective plans of the year. The publication is hosting a special awards luncheon to honor all the recipients
June 16 in New York City. For more information, visit http://mediaplanoftheyear.com/.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
From Advertising Age…
Ad Industry Should Consider Trying NFL’s Rooney Rule
An Ad Age Editorial
As the ad industry tries to recover from yet more embarrassing diversity-related publicity, it’s becoming increasingly clear the time for “dialogue” is over. It may be time for advertising to try its own version of the Rooney Rule.
The Rooney Rule, for those not obsessed with the National Football League, was the solution arrived at to solve one of the league’s big issues: Despite hundreds of black players, there were few black coaches. After Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri published a study and threatened a lawsuit (sound familiar?), the league and the lawyers settled on the Rooney Rule, which stipulated that for every opening for a coaching position, at least one qualified African-American candidate had to be interviewed. The rule seemed too simple to work. But it has.
Ironically, the latest blow to the industry was directly related to football and came from one of the men who nudged the NFL toward the Rooney Rule. Two weeks ago, the Madison Avenue Project, helmed by Mr. Mehri and the NAACP, unveiled an analysis of this year’s Super Bowl ads. They found that of the ads created for advertising’s main event, 92% of the creative executives were white men, and 7% were white women.
Of course, one key difference between the NFL and advertising is that the NFL’s player ranks are brimming with candidates. For adland, the rule would likely have to be enacted from the bottom up. (The NFL’s version of the Rooney Rule might track better with women in advertising, i.e. plenty of women in the lower ranks of advertising, yet very few making it to the executive suites.)
There are likely to be other challenges as well. But we haven’t seen many viable alternatives other than class-action lawsuits and the increasingly tiresome “dialogue.” Holding dialogue about diversity in the ad industry at this point is about as useful as raising awareness about the need of oxygen to survive. Industry representatives need to stop talking to each other and start talking to Mr. Mehri and his group. That will undoubtedly rankle some.
After all, Mr. Mehri’s style has been to publicly embarrass adland and not seek much by way of dialogue. Indeed, while the recent press conference was public, agency execs and industry groups weren’t specifically invited. But it is what it is.
History has shown that those industries that don’t enter into serious negotiations with Mr. Mehri end up defending themselves in court. Let’s find an alternative that works.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Advertising Age reported Procter & Gamble unveiled its Supplier Environmental Sustainability Scorecard, and the mega-advertiser intends to force advertising agencies to reveal how green they are. Gee, wonder if this initiative will be as successful as P&G’s efforts to influence agencies’ commitment to supplier diversity. Procter & Gamble should force agencies to reveal how White they are. Call it the Supplier Exclusivity Scorecard.
It’s pretty sad that P&G would penalize an agency for its recycling practices, yet essentially green-light its racist practices. Yo, Procter & Gamble, your agency partners are Whiter than a garment washed in Tide with Bleach.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Do Social Networks Overlook Latinas?
38% of Hispanic women in the U.S. say these nets lack content created especially for them
Elena Malykhina, Brandweek
Social networks represent a huge opportunity for marketers trying to reach Latinas—but many in this growing audience believe they are being poorly served by such nets.
Thirty-eight percent of Hispanic women in the U.S. say these networks lack content created especially for their unique interests, according to a new study by research firm Sophia Mind.
The study, titled “The Use of Social Networks by Latin Women,” is based on interviews with 3,300 Latinas in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, ages 18-60. The research found that Hispanic women in the U.S. are one of the fastest-growing online demographics.
“Brands are understandably eager to reach Latina women and our research shows the best way for marketers to connect with them is through social networks,” said Andiara Petterle, CEO of Bolsa de Mulher, the parent company of Sophia Mind.
Facebook is the social network used most by U.S. Hispanic women, followed by Twitter, Hi5, MiGente, Univision and Bebo, per the study. While American women use social networks mostly to connect with friends and family, women in all the countries surveyed use such venues to find information on products and services.
In all countries, more than 85 percent of Latinas visit social networks on a regular basis. But when it comes to U.S. Hispanic women, only 21 percent feel social networks meet their needs. Their main complaint, according to the study, is the lack of specific content for Latinas and the lack of an increased participation of Latinas in social networks.
“Marketers have a golden opportunity to deliver meaningful content and targeted messages to Latinas through social channels,” said Petterle. “By speaking with Latinas in an authentic way, brands can build lasting brand awareness with this massive market.”
A number of sources have already weighed in on the Toyota “Swagger Wagon” spot, and Jim Edwards at BNET even presented a collection of rap-infused commercials. Much of the debate with Toyota revolves around the potentially racist nature of the message.
It’s tough to categorize these sorts of efforts as racist. Culturally clueless is a more accurate label. Lazy works, too.
It also seems wrong to lump everything into a single receptacle. Spots using hip-hop tracks as borrowed interest to deliver a point are harmless enough. It’s not much different than integrating pop music or R&B classics, which has always been an easy solution for hackneyed creative people. The Toyota commercial, however, goes beyond hijacking a hip-hop score.
A few defenders insist Toyota is playing off a Saturday Night Live piece. Sorry, but the commercial doesn’t come close to matching SNL on any level. The truth is, Toyota clumsily employs race-based stereotypes that ultimately reveal the ignorance of its creators.
But more outrageous than the clichéd and contrived Wigger angle is another stereotype so prevalent in the handiwork of Madison Avenue: Attractive Women Married to Balding Nerds.
Honestly, what’s the motivation behind these bizarre husband-wife pairings? Such couplings only happen in real life when the man is filthy rich—and purchasing a Toyota minivan would never enter the equation. Yet White families in commercials constantly push and perpetuate the unbelievable marriage scenario. Why? Are Caucasian creative people playing out some personal fantasy, hoping to fabricate an illusion that might influence societal shifts?
Imagine the conversations and conspiring that must take place in casting sessions. Does a full head of hair, dashing features and good teeth lead to blatant discrimination? How many handsome White male actors are rejected simply because of the way they look?
It’s time to end this offensive distortion and disrespect once and for all.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
From The Chicago Tribune…
Frank Frazetta dies at 82; renowned fantasy illustrator
His covers for “Conan” paperbacks and others in the 1960s set the standard for sword-and-sorcery-genre artwork.
By Jeff Boucher
Frank Frazetta, the fantasy painter and illustrator whose images of sinewy warriors and lush vixens graced paperback novels, album covers and comic books for decades and became something close to the contemporary visual definition of the sword-and-sorcery genres, died Monday after suffering a stroke the night before. He was 82.
Frazetta had gone out to dinner with his daughters Sunday and then had a stroke at his home in Boca Grande, Fla. He died at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., his manager Rob Pistella told the Associated Press.
“He’s going to be remembered as the most renowned fantasy illustrator of the 20th century,” Pistella said.
Frazetta’s most famous works were in oil, but his canvases were rarely seen in museums; instead his legacy was defined by barbarians and warlocks who reached out to readers from book covers on dime-store spinner racks. But as comic books and fantasy entertainment gained a wider audience in the 1970s and ‘80s, Frazetta became a brand name and his original artwork became a sensation. Last November, one of his pieces, a berserk battlefield image that graced a “Conan the Conqueror” paperback, sold for $1 million to a private collector.
John Milius, the screenwriter whose credits include “Apocalypse Now,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “Red Dawn,” was the director and co-writer of “Conan the Barbarian,” the 1982 film that was based on the warrior character created by pulp writer Robert E. Howard in 1932. Milius said Monday that it was Frazetta’s muscular paintings of Conan that defined the character for him and modern generations of fans.
“Not that I could ever redo Frazetta on film — he created a world and a mood that are impossible to simulate — but my goal in ‘Conan the Barbarian’ was to tell a story that was shaped by Frazetta and Wagner,” Milius said.
Frazetta was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 9, 1928. By age 8, he was studying at the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Art. One of his key influences was Hal Foster, the great comic-strip artist whose “Tarzan” became a compass point for Frazetta’s own jungle scenes.
By 16, Frazetta was working in the booming field of illustration in New York. He toiled under Al Capp on “Li’l Abner” and on his own strip, “Johnny Comet,” in the early 1950s. In comic books, he worked on “The Shining Knight” and a western hero called “Ghost Rider,” but his fame would come with a paintbrush and in a more sensual sector when, in the 1960s, he began painting covers for paperbacks and magazines.
It was his covers for the “Conan” paperbacks of the 1960s, especially, that created a new overheated vision of fantasy realms. Later in life he told an interviewer that he didn’t find his strange beasts, sullen warriors or buxom maidens in the text of the books he fronted with his art.
“I didn’t read any of it,” Frazetta said. “I drew him my way. It was really rugged. And it caught on. I didn’t care about what people thought. People who bought the books never complained about it. They probably didn’t read them.”
Perhaps, but the readers of those Conan books — as well as the “Tarzan” and “John Carter Warlord of Mars” novels that Frazetta famously painted covers for — said they found the words and pictures melded with a resonant power.
Guillermo del Toro, the Oscar-nominated co-writer of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which he also directed along with the “Hellboy” films, said that Frazetta was nothing less than “an Olympian artist that defined fantasy art for the 20th century.” The filmmaker, reached Monday in New Zealand where he is working on a two-film adaptation of “The Hobbit,” said Frazetta’s influence is difficult to explain to people outside the fantasy world, just as Norman Rockwell would be an elusive figure to define for someone unfamiliar with the U.S. heartland.
“He gave the world a new pantheon of heroes,” the filmmaker said by e-mail. “He took the mantle from J. Allen St. John and Joseph Clement Coll and added blood, sweat and sexual power to their legacy. … He somehow created a second narrative layer for every book he ever illustrated.”
There were also rock album covers: Molly Hatchet, Nazareth, Yngwie Malmsteen and Wolfmother all tapped into the clanging combat and temptress imagery of Frazetta’s easel.
His long, restless career took him into Hollywood work, posters, animation, commercial art and almost every corner of American illustration. The artist’s final year had been a wrenching one; his wife and partner, Ellie Frazetta, died in July, setting off a dispute among the Frazetta children about the custody of their ailing patriarch and his art collection, which by some estimates was worth $20 million.
The quarrel reached a bizarre zenith in December when his son Alfonso “Frank Jr.” Frazetta used a backhoe to knock down a wall of a small castle-like building that housed much of his father’s premium artwork. That building was a mini-museum that sat on the elder Frazetta’s farm in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and the bizarre invasion led to a criminal case, although charges were dropped during a recent settlement among the Frazetta siblings.
Besides his son Frank, Frazetta is survived by another son, William; two daughters, Heidi Frazetta Grabin and Holly Frazetta; and 11 grandchildren.
Here’s a delayed follow-up to the MetroPCS debacle from last month.
As it turns out, the Tech & Talk campaign featuring culturally clueless stereotypes is the work of The Richards Group in Dallas. This is the same White agency that swiped the Latino portion of The Home Depot account, using its small department of minorities to
The Richards Group website boasts about a culture where people are scrambled, intermingled and not segregated. However, the leadership photos appear to be predominately White and male.
The MetroPCS commercials certainly show the level of sensitivity and expertise The Richards Group can bring to non-White advertising. Look forward to telenovela parodies and soccer-infused imagery for The Home Depot. And don’t be surprised if General Motors taps the Texas firm to cover some Black assignments too.
Hey, diversity is cool when Whites want to play in the multicultural arena. Not so much when colored folks seek to infiltrate the general market world.
Monday, May 10, 2010
From The New York Times…
Lena Horne, Singer and Actress, Dies at 92
By Aljean Harmetz
Lena Horne, who was the first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer, died on Sunday night at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She was 92 and lived in Manhattan.
Her death was announced by her son-in-law, Kevin Buckley.
Ms. Horne might have become a major movie star, but she was born 50 years too early, and languished at MGM in the 1940s because of the color of her skin, although she was so light-skinned that, when she was a child, other black children had taunted her, accusing her of having a “white daddy.”
Ms. Horne was stuffed into one “all-star” musical after another — “Thousands Cheer” (1943), “Broadway Rhythm” (1944), “Two Girls and a Sailor” (1944), “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946), “Words and Music” (1948) — to sing a song or two that could easily be snipped from the movie when it played in the South, where the idea of an African-American performer in anything but a subservient role in a movie with an otherwise all-white cast was unthinkable.
“The only time I ever said a word to another actor who was white was Kathryn Grayson in a little segment of ‘Show Boat’ ” included in “Till the Clouds Roll By” (1946), a movie about the life of Jerome Kern, Ms. Horne said in an interview in 1990. In that sequence she played Julie, a mulatto forced to flee the showboat because she has married a white man.
But when MGM made “Show Boat” into a movie for the second time, in 1951, the role of Julie was given to a white actress, Ava Gardner, who did not do her own singing. (Ms. Horne was no longer under contract to MGM at the time, and according to James Gavin’s Horne biography, “Stormy Weather,” published last year, she was never seriously considered for the part.) And in 1947, when Ms. Horne herself married a white man — the prominent arranger, conductor and pianist Lennie Hayton, who was for many years both her musical director and MGM’s — the marriage took place in France and was kept secret for three years.
Ms. Horne’s first MGM movie was “Panama Hattie” (1942), in which she sang Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things.” Writing about that film years later, Pauline Kael called it “a sad disappointment, though Lena Horne is ravishing and when she sings you can forget the rest of the picture.”
Even before she came to Hollywood, Brooks Atkinson, the drama critic for The New York Times, noticed Ms. Horne in “Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1939,” a Broadway revue that ran for nine performances. “A radiantly beautiful sepia girl,” he wrote, “who will be a winner when she has proper direction.”
She had proper direction in two all-black movie musicals, both made in 1943. Lent to 20th Century Fox for “Stormy Weather,” one of those show business musicals with almost no plot but lots of singing and dancing, Ms. Horne did both triumphantly, ending with the sultry, aching sadness of the title number, which would become one of her signature songs. In MGM’s “Cabin in the Sky,” the first film directed by Vincente Minnelli, she was the brazen, sexy handmaiden of the Devil. (One number she shot for that film, “Ain’t It the Truth,” which she sang while taking a bubble bath, was deleted before the film was released — not for racial reasons, as her stand-alone performances in other MGM musicals sometimes were, but because it was considered too risqué.)
In 1945 the critic and screenwriter Frank Nugent wrote in Liberty magazine that Ms. Horne was “the nation’s top Negro entertainer.” In addition to her MGM salary of $1,000 a week, she was earning $1,500 for every radio appearance and $6,500 a week when she played nightclubs. She was also popular with servicemen, white and black, during World War II, appearing more than a dozen times on the Army radio program “Command Performance.”
“The whole thing that made me a star was the war,” Ms. Horne said in the 1990 interview. “Of course the black guys couldn’t put Betty Grable’s picture in their footlockers. But they could put mine.”
Touring Army camps for the U.S.O., Ms. Horne was outspoken in her criticism of the way black soldiers were treated. “So the U.S.O. got mad,” she recalled. “And they said, ‘You’re not going to be allowed to go anyplace anymore under our auspices.’ So from then on I was labeled a bad little Red girl.”
Ms. Horne later claimed that for this and other reasons, including her friendship with leftists like Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois, she was blacklisted and “unable to do films or television for the next seven years” after her tenure with MGM ended in 1950.
This was not quite true: as Mr. Gavin has documented, she appeared frequently on “Your Show of Shows” and other television shows in the 1950s, and in fact “found more acceptance” on television “than almost any other black performer.” And Mr. Gavin and others have suggested that there were other factors in addition to politics or race involved in her lack of film work
Although absent from the screen, she found success in nightclubs and on records. “Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria,” recorded during a well-received eight-week run in 1957, reached the Top 10 and became the best-selling album by a female singer in RCA Victor’s history.
In the early 1960s Ms. Horne, always outspoken on the subject of civil rights, became increasingly active, participating in numerous marches and protests.
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