Thursday, February 14, 2013

Monkey see, monkey do pictures

If you're offended by some of the depictions of "natives" in Korean media (and sometimes you should be), bear in mind that Korean advertising, Korean television, Korean music, and various other forms of Korean media and entertainment have for decades been mimicking what was easily available from the US and elsewhere, and modeling Korean media thus.

Which is why issues like blackface (also here and here), joking about Nazis, or depicting Africans as primitives carrying spears get very confusing.

A very recent Exhibit A:
But even more upsetting are the shots taken in Namibia, in which a black man is a prop. A black model was also shot in the African country, but when the magazine used the man as a prop, they used a white model, for contrast. Photographing Emily DiDonato against the country's stunning sands wasn't enough. A half-naked native makes the shot seem more exotic — even though Namibia is a country with a capital city where there are shopping malls and people, you know, who wear Western clothes. Also: People are not props.

Africa has long been portrayed as a place of uncivilized, primitive people, despite the fact that it is a very diverse continent with an epic diaspora and considered the birthplace of civilization. From Morocco to Côte d'Ivoire to Ethiopia to Egypt and Nigeria, no one African country is like another. But these shots tap into the West's past obsession/fetishization with so-called savages, jungle comics and the like. Again: In a visit to seven continents, this image is what Sports Illustrated is using to represent the continent of Africa. A model holding a fucking spear.

Questions: Who is this man? Was he cast? Was he paid? Does he know his ass is in glossy print, all over the United States right now?
Not that that excuses anything on the Korean side (just so we're clear). You've been warned.



  1. Reminds me of that movie, "The Gods Must be Crazy" when the African bushman sees a half naked white women and thinks, "Oh, she's not attractive at all, look at how big she is, it would take a whole day of foraging to feed her."

    1. I haven't seen The Gods Must Be Crazy in years, but I too was thinking of that movie when I read about this. Although I recall that movie being sympathetic to native bushmen, it was produced at a time when Whites in South Africa who were very conscious of their super position were actively trying to preserve it in part by depicting Blacks and other "non-Whites" as primitive others. Even those who didn't support Apartheid may have been infected by such views.

  2. Why does the woman have larger, more muscular legs than the man? That is the primary issue here...


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