Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Racist or Clueless? You Be the Judge

I found the above Intel ad courtesy of the blog The Field Negro, who in turn received it from Truth Seekers. When I first viewed the ad (you can enlarge the image by clicking it), I saw 6 black men bowing at the feet of the white boss man. Come to think of it, that is what I continue to see. From the comments I have read, an overwhelming number of people feel the same way.

Apparently, the ad is meant to demonstrate the speed of the new processor (hence the sprinters). However, I feel that Intel could have used a much smarter approach to convey this message.

Perception can be a funny thing. Is this the work of Intel ad execs without a clue of what is and isn't racially insensitive or are people like me who find this offensive being too touchy?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this ad.

14 comments:

pjazzypar said...

Well I probably would have never paid any attention to the advertisement and if some of the sprinters were Anglo or women I may well have thought nothing it (wait a minute Black bald headed men are not the only ones who sprint are they?). I really don't believe that the producers of ad are racist, at least not in a malicious sense. I do think that there is a certain amount of insensitivity being shown by the creators of the ad. My opinion is that many times people say and do things that are inappropriate because they just don't think before taking action. You are not being too touchy, but I feel that Intel is clueless rather than racist.

The Rock Chick said...

Malcolm-I hadn't seen this ad until now and I didn't read your post until I had looked at the picture, trying to keep an open mind. The majority of the time, I really do believe that when people (me included!) are offended by something, they are being a little too sensitive.

In this case, I do not.

I see the running clothes, (although it was not one of the first things I noticed) and I think if they were using the Top 6 American Sprinters in the ad (like combined with an Olympics promo or something). If the top sprinters all happened to be 6 black men, and they showed their faces and listed their names or something, I guess I could understand the ad.

Honestly, my first impression of this ad was that it was completely racist. Maybe it's because my daughter recently had to write a paper on slavery and helping her with research is fresh on my mind, I don't know, but I know those are supposed to be office cubicles, but the starting position they are in lined up like that struck me immediately as one of those slavery row boats. I noticed the running clothes way after I noticed that. They all look exactly alike as if they don't have their own identities and then combine that with the "maximize the power of your employees" and I agree, the ad is totally racist.

I'm sure it wasn't intended to be that way. I think the idea of using sprinters is a good one actually, but I just think the layout and the pose is really bad! It's the work of clueless, my opinion.....

Taj said...

This is the first time I've seen this ad. I do get the concept of the ad...power and performance multiplied. Intel inferring that they are like one powerful and fast sprinter multiplied (in this case photoshopped)

Do I think Intel was being intentionally racist? No. Do I think they were being clueless? Yes.

The initial reaction to looking at the photo can be construed in many ways and I am surprised that it was approved for print.

However one can also assume that this is what they were looking for. Mass reaction, their product on everyones minds (good or bad) and then later a statement released with an apology and a promise to pull the ads. Which won't mean a thing since they already got the attention they sought.

Lori said...

Interesting. I showed the picture without the commentary to my spouse and asked for his reaction. Even though he used to run track, he didn't immediately pick-up on the imagery. He said it looked like a group of brothers bowing down to a white guy (smile).

Clueless or racist? How about both? Racism is ignorance. Sometimes it's not always deliberate . . . but it still stems from ignorance.

The hubby (the cynic) says he wouldn't be surprised if it was deliberate. He works in the world of business and finance. Not long ago he overheard someone in the office seriously insisting there was a link between genetics and credit scores . . .

BeckEye said...

Hmm, I noticed the racing unitards right away and the muscular arms, so I wouldn't have immediately thought they were bowing. I think it's more disturbing that the racers are all the same guy. I think that says more about how too many companies look at their employees as nameless, faceless workhorses who are just waiting to jump at the word "go!"

Ben Clapton said...

I can see how it might be construed as them bowing down to the white guy, but there are two reasons why I think that intel have been just slightly misconstrued here.
1) the racing suits. They're fairly prominent in my sight, and show what they're doing.
2) The poses they have are the traditional sprinting starting pose, which is a lot higher than if they were bowing down. If they were bowing, their arms would be straight out or straight back, not supporting them as they are in this picture.

But I agree, it probably wasn't the best idea to save money by using the same guy for all six sprinters (If you look carefully, I'm pretty certain it's just the one guy - either taken in 6 different positions, or taken just once and photoshopped.)

Malcolm: said...

This ad has served as sort of a Rorschach inkblot test. It has been interesting to hear the differing and well thought out takes by everyone so far.

When the issue of race comes up, it's easy for people to take the easy way out and go on the attack when somebody offers an idea different from theirs. I am glad to see that this didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

The mental suggestion we are meant to conjure-- that black sprinters necessarily represent super-capable processors of information-- is indeed amusing.
http://podblanc.com

Malcolm: said...

An anonymous, racist comment... why am I not surprised?

In case any of us ever forget that this type of thinking exists, pay a visit to the link that the anonymous poster provided.

pjazzypar said...

I had a response for anonymous that wasn't very nice. Then I thought why give this idiot the satisfaction of upsetting me with his (or her) ignorance and racist propaganda. That would be defiling your blog which is and remains a forum for all no matter how ill-informed and unintelligent. Most people stop by "Popculture Dish" to have a few laughs and get different takes on the latest news and then there is your anonymous contributors who have to hide behind a SHEET in order to express their opinions. Yeah I said it!

Malcolm: said...

Pjazzypar: Your comments about why most people visit my blog (at least I hope that's why) could serve as its mission statement. My initial reaction was to confine the comments made by "anonymous" to file 13. But then I said, "No, I'm going to leave this foolishness up for all the cyberworld to see".

BeckEye said...

The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it's also given cowards a playground. What can you do.

Taj said...

Shaking my head at anonymous. I could say more but am following the lead of pjazzypar.

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