Tuesday, March 4, 2008

MIA and Chinese Restaurant Ads




I was thinking about the Chinese Laundry advertisement this afternoon and it occurred to me that it had seen this type of ad before. To the left is an advertisement for Tao, an upscale restaurant and nightclub at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Both ads completely dehumanize the female body by exposing her body in black and white and cropping the photo to exclude her head. What I find interesting about both advertisements is that they both read "Asian female body" when in reality there is no way to tell if the body is actually Asian or just a white girl with Asian character tattoos. What exactly about this body is so Asian?

Another thing I began to think about is how these advertisements fetishize the female body to the point where it is treated less like a human and more like a piece of meat. What does this mean in the context of an advertisement for a Chinese restaurant, especially when one considers all of the negative racial stereotypes related to the Chinese and the different types of meat they consume?

Lastly, I am a fan of M.I.A. and I am super excited she is coming to Brown. M.I.A. may incorporate 3rd world sentiments into her music and I admire that her videos include people of these cultures rather than the images of scantily clad dressed ladies and bling found in most of today's hip hop videos, but I have a problem viewing her as a revolutionary figure. Who consumes M.I.A.'s music? People of third world countries or white upper-middle class hipsters? For example, she was just featured in a series of advertisements for "it" designer, Marc Jacobs. Jacobs is somewhat the king of cool in the fashion world, and while it is interesting that M.I.A. modeled both the men and women's line, I just don't feel like it aligns itself with the politically revolutionary image of M.I.A. What percent of the population could afford to shop at a MArc Jacobs boutique? Not to mention, I have read numerous times that "tribal prints" (M.I.A.'s signature look) are in this spring. Like I said before, maybe I am just cynical...it just seems like M.I.A.'s "3rd world sentiments" are super trendy right now, which at times makes me question the sincerity of some of her work.

3 comments:

W. Jin said...
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W. Jin said...
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W. Jin said...

That is my concern about MIA. Given that she does do these glamour shoots, I am wondering how much of her is image and how much is substance. I am looking at her lyrics, and to be honest I think they could be improved greatly. They generally consist of somewhat vague statements about the third world layered over with varying degrees of hip hop filler, some of which is strangely self-aggrandizing.

I don't want to be a spoilsport, because MIA and hip hop are not my musical territory, but I do feel that her music is not nearly as overtly political as other ostensibly political musical acts, such as the punk band Hudson Falcons:

http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/the_hudson_falcons/labor_day.html