Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How Young Can We Make These Asian Girls? Race in the Evian “Live Young” Print Campaign

They are pictured in brightly colored tights, short pleated skirts and shorts, their hair and makeup styles more likely to be found on tweens and young teenage girls than the women pictured here.

They are females of Asian descent. Their ages are unknown, their clothes look like they belong on younger women, and they are wearing tee-shirts with baby bodies printed on them. One of the three women carries a bottle of water in her purse. The overall image creates a distorted bobble-head effect through which the viewer is meant to equate Asianness with youth. These women are the faces of the new Evian "Live Young" print campaign.

How young do you want us to be?

Ostensibly the purpose of the advertisement is to suggest that consumption of Evian-branded water imbues you with a more youthful appearance or affect. It would seem logical, then, that the ad's models are depicted as younger than they actually are, and this is true.

However, the dual imposition of youthfulness on these Asian models is problematic, especially because the non-Asian models in the same campaign are not subjected to it. They are portrayed in uniform clothing - jeans and the baby shirt - that does not obfuscate their proper ages or create much of a sartorially unique identifier. Only the Asian women are wearing something radically different, and what this distinction serves to do is infantalize the female Asian models in a way that it does not with non-Asian models, despite the fact that they are all being portrayed like babies.

The other explicitly racial markers evident in the campaign is one print of a black man wearing a hoodie in addition to his jeans and baby shirt. Given the recent - and some would say, racist - treatment of Trayvon Martin's hoodie, the presence of this sweatshirt does more to politicize an image of a black man than do much else. There is another featured black man holding a basketball in an image that can only be understood as a reference to black people's supposedly innate athletic ability.

Hoodie on a black man: What does it mean?

Other differences among the models are slight:

People of color are depicted roughly as much as white people in these ads. With the exception of a small white boy, most of the models appear to be young adults, with a few middle-aged folks thrown in as outliers. Some models are wearing glasses. Some have on hats. A variety of hairstyles is represented, even among the black men. One white man has very long hair. In a separate print, an Asian woman is also seen in jeans and the baby shirt.

So why make the three Asian women in question look so different from everybody?

For starters, the only women of color in this print campaign are Asian. They are special, perhaps intended to be read as exotic. The costumey outfits, makeup, and hairstyles accentuate how different they are from the other people in the same campaign.  Unlike the other models, the bright colors these women wear seem to pop from the glaring white background of the print space.

Asian people have historically been subjected to age manipulation and related sexualization.  Women in particular are understood in this way; for example, the Japanese schoolgirl has long been an overtly fetishized figure in modern consciousness.

What this Evian campaign does, then, is validate the stereotype of the ageless Asian woman and use it to promote its own commercial message, one that conflates the Evian brand with youthful appearance.

Evian wants us to know that you too, can look as young as Asian women always seem to. Drink Evian and you can appear - and by extension, be -  as fun and youthful as these Asian girl-women.

If you yourself would like to be infantilized by Evian, the baby shirts are for sale to the general public. You can get a peach or brown baby body, but not anything in between. Each $34 here.

And here you can even insert yourself in the ad campaign's crowdsourced baby shirt music video, dancing to lyrics like "Eat your words / but don’t go hungry / words have always nearly hung me,” whatever that means. This activity is a bit more inclusive, with three color options for the baby you wish to be.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Liveblogging Hurricane Isaac, Part 5

New Orleans: ever optimistic
 Well hello again, Dear Readers! Although this "liveblog" has become more of a "nonblog," I assure you I have been thinking sassy thoughts during this 5-day power outage in New Orleans, Louisiana, and fortunately for you, O Patient Ones, I am willing to share them here in this very public forum.

When I last left you, my adopted city was under siege by Hurricane/Jerkface Isaac.  Collateral damage took out my power and internet, so I've had little to do in the interim except drink heavily, sweat in the 95-degree heat, and curse Entergy (our electricity provider). Many adventures befell me during this time, and I tried to document most of them on Twitter and in frantic/reassuring texts to my mom.

Most of the activity happened when my roommate and I went exploring the neighborhood during the hurricane, which turned out to be more like a really fucking long and windy rainstorm.  We visited our neighbors, making sure they had plenty of food and vodka to last them through the storm.  We also checked on some evacuee friends' houses to see if they had been damaged or looted (no, and no, thankfully, although someone broke into our neighbor's house on the corner and was quickly apprehended by the National Guard. Apparently the guy who saw the robbery taking place was on vacation visiting his friends / my neighbors, and later went on to rescue someone's dog from the gutter. I guess you learn quickly that nothing normal ever happens in New Orleans, and anyone can become a hero.)

My roommate and I also snuck into the Delicious Kitchen on N. Rampart to watch our friends prep for guerrilla empanada-selling in the aftermath of the storm, when no one had power to refrigerate or cook food.

The lack of power was by far the worst part of the experience, rectified only this evening in my neighborhood. But we were able to make lemonade out of lemons - or "lemon juice solids," if you were eating MREs, but more on that later - and have a nice Clean-Your-Fridge Potluck Party with lots of creative dishes (did someone say kale & cream cheese dumplings?). You'd be surprised to find out how many different hot sauces you own until you have to completely empty your refrigerator: we have 17.

Below you will find some photographic highlights, as the power is now back on and we bid adieu to remnants of Isaac. (Sorry the layout is so wonky - Blogger makes it very difficult to edit photos & captions once you stick them in.) Missing is the snapshot we took of the beloved Mike's Grocery staff members, one of whom was guarding the store with a - I shit you not - samurai sword.

A house collapsed on Galvez & St. Philip.

Poor Laura was cutting jalapeƱos for Empanada Intifada and came down with a mystery burn on her hands. We tried to heal her with various crap from our house but it was dark and we couldn't really see what we were making her slather all over herself. She was eventually cured, but we're not sure how.

Parkway PoBoy had some wind damage.

This fence hiding the AT&T fiber optic whatever on my block fell on my neighbor's car. When AT&T came to fix it, my neighbor flirted with the repairman so he would hook up her freezer to their generator. This was obviously not her first hurricane.

I think the water supply is supposed to be inside the house, but I could be wrong.

Train track parking on Chartres Street

Fallen branches & trash can on Chartres Street

We went foraging and found this mystery citrus.

Downed tree & fence on Alvar Street

Empanada Intifada feeds the Bywater on Friday morning.

Wagner's had some roof damage but was open for (limited) business.

They say St. Claude Ave. isn't safe, but this isn't the usual reason.

Y'all can prolly just pop that back in.

Playground hazards in the Treme

Busted tree in Bayou St. John

I've had some good times under this Bayou St. John tree.

We didn't need this fence in our backyard, anyway.

Liveblogging Hurricane Isaac, Part 4

Dear Loyal Fan Base,

The following post was just about to be uploaded shortly before our power went out Tuesday night. Luckily for you, I subscribe to two adages in life: "Waste Not, Want Not," and "Better Late Than Never." Also, "The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round." But that's "Neither Here Nor There."

So without further ado, the missing post:

It's almost bedtime here at the Shtetl, Dear Readers, so you get this one last live update before I go snoozy-bye.

Recent installments:
Chloe is above the influence
  • Lots of power outages are being reported around the city. Don't worry, Mom, I bought extra flashlights.
  • My cat is handling the hurricane stress like a champ.
  • I made sweet potato fries that are only a little burnt.
  • A tree fell where my friends usually park their car on Alvar Street. Good thing they moved it this morning.
  • "Water and electrical devices don't always mix," according to our resident meteorological experts over at NPR.
  • Don't yuck my yum
  • I am getting shit over my recent report in which I shared that I had been enjoying a fine and icy PBR at my friend's house. "Surely you can upgrade the beer selection," my critic suggests. Well if only I weren't so busy hunkering down all the damn time, I might have had time to consult my local sommelier, thank you!
  • I see your Monument to
    Fallen White Soldiers,
    & I raise you a parking space

  •  I got in a minor Twitter battle with @NOLAReady over the use of the hashtag #deep, as in "The water is #deep." Another interesting use of hashtags is evident in their recent warning that "the water under 1610 [sic] Underpass is deceptively deep & citizens should NOT try to cross it. #TurnAroundDontDrown #NOLAReady." Thank you, @NOLAReady. I hope all the drivers trying to cross the 610 underpass consult Twitter before doing so.
Okay, chiefs, it is time to go, mostly because I cannot stand NPR anymore and our power is probably going to go out soon oh wait it just did. I will keep you posted as to my whereabouts and whyabouts. And if you are my mother / grandma / other concerned party, please don't be alarmed. "All's well that ends well."