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Popular Culture: Historical Icons And American Culture

934 words - 4 pages

AnalysisConsumers are subjected to race, ethnicity, and gender biases whether they are shopping for food, clothing, or toys. Minority and multicultural groups have been used to sell products for centuries. While conducting my supermarket field research, I came across many historical icons that have been subjected to discrimination to sell American goods. The most apparent ethnic image that stuck with me was the African American Cream of Wheat chef. In the early 1900's he is seen in numerous ads and posters illustrated as a slave. This image of a smiling black servant, appealed to it's white customers who enjoyed the illusion of southern hospitality. Along with attaining a lesson in race and ...view middle of the document...

Aunt Jemima is a popular name brand that can be found in any food mart. Although she has a new image, her name still symbolizes discrimination, slavery, and racism.Along with being exposed to matters pertaining to race and ethnicity in the shopping world, gender differentiated marketing is unavoidable. This separation of the sexes is most apparent in toy stores. In Susan Willis's essay, "Gender as a Commodity" she states, "Our culture is a mass culture, where one of the strongest early influences on gender is the toy market...In today's toy market there is a much greater sexual division of toys defined by very particular gender traits than I'd say has ever existed before." As I conducted my field research in Toys"R"Us, the color theme in the store was the first feature of gender differentiated marketing to jump out at me. The color pink is used to signify which aisles are for girls, and blue to mark which aisles are for boys. In the "pink" aisles I found Barbies, Dolls, My Little Ponies, Kitchen sets and babies. In the "blue" aisles I saw Lego's, Building sets, Transformers, G.I Joe, Dinosaurs, and Train sets. By creating these two different and separated sections of the store, the toy market is telling it's shoppers what girls and boys should want and where they should shop.Television commercials also promote this idea of using different techniques to promote toys for boys and girls. In Jeffrey Goldstein's essay, "Sex Differences in Toy Play", he says "commercials for girls toys contain more fades, dissolves, and soft background music; those for boys toys...

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