Produced by cosmetics company Hindustan Unilever, “Fair and Lovely” is a skin-lightening cream that dominates the Indian market. This ad is part of a campaign that portrays women with dark complexions who suddenly find romance and glamorous careers after using the “Fair and Lovely” whitening cream. Due to controversy, Hindustan Unilever had to pull these ads from Indian media in 2007.
H&M Close the Loop video is an advertisement for the clothing company’s sustainable fashion through recycling clothes campaign. The ad features a diverse representation of models that are different sizes, ages, genders, sexualities, religions, races, ethnicities, varying degrees of able-bodiedness, and people wearing and presenting their hair - including under arm hair, beards, and head hair - in different styles. The ad features a voice-over saying commonly stated and sometimes contradictory fashion rules and advice while images of diverse, fashionable people in various settings challenge assumptions about these rules. The ad closes with text urging people to leave unwanted garments in any H&M store so that the company can reuse or recycle them into new clothes.
This two-minute .Mic video addresses the issue of cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation through an analysis of Coldplay and Beyoncé’s 2016 “Hymn for the Weekend” music video. Natasha Noman, a .Mic reporter, describes conflicted reactions to the music video, which was shot in India and features the all White British band interacting with Indian people and traveling through the country witnessing and participating in various cultural ceremonies and rituals. By using clips from different parts of the music video, Noman analyzes what some have critiqued as cultural appropriation, and what others have argued is cultural appreciation. These clips include scenes of religious figures in traditional attire, as well as people celebrating in Indian formalwear, jewelry, and makeup tied to cultural and/or religious practices, and the band, Coldplay, playing their instruments covered in colorful paint thrown by Indian kids participating in the popular Holi festival. Beyoncé is featured in the video as a Bollywood movie star, dressed in a glamorous sari-like dress, dancing in an Indian style, and with Henna on her hands. The .Mic video uses these scenes as well as pop culture examples from Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and others to define and compare cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation.
This 2015 American Express credit card company advertisement tells the story of “unlikely leading lady” Mindy Kaling. In the video, the successful Indian American actress, comedian, and writer talks about growing up discovering that she liked and had a talent for acting and comedy, and also how she carved a path forward even though she did not see anyone who looked like her in TV and film. She also talks about the stereotypical roles she was limited to play in the past, and how significant and important it is to her now to be the visibility and representativeness on screen and in the entertainment industry that was missing when she was growing up. Throughout the video, Kaling is shown being interviewed between clips of her getting ready for her day, including exercising, eating, showering and choosing clothes, driving to work, and ultimately walking onto a set to discuss how a show is being filmed. The video ends with the American Express logo and campaign tagline: the journey never stops.
This 2015 short film made by Buzzfeed, a pop culture website, showcases people of color recreating the posters of popular movies. Minority groups such as South and East Asians, African Americans, and members of the LBGTQ community are featured in the re-creations, including movie posters for “Mean Girls” (2004), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “Titanic” (1997), “Blue is the Warmest Color” (2013), and “The Breakfast Club” (1985). In between posters, statistics about the underrepresentation of minorities in Hollywood and in the media play across the screen and over the images of the new “actors,” who are dressed in the original costumes that their white counterparts wore for their roles. While some of the statistical facts deal with the idea that minorities are underrepresented numbers-wise, the video also states that the “few roles that cast Asians rarely diverge from existing stereotypes,” which not only calls into question underrepresentation but misrepresentation and the larger issue of the lack of diversity of roles in Hollywood. At the end of the video, we see a collection of the new actors together with the words “Aren’t these movies beautiful in color?,” prompting viewers to think about the “color” (or lack thereof) they see in current films and what they would look like re-envisioned on a more diverse landscape.