Yesterday, Jim Casper from lensculture
dropped me an email about this magazine cover which apparently is plastered as light boxes and so forth all over Paris. The headline translates: "After Bush. Financial Crisis, Social Frgamentation, Immigration, Environment. Why America Should Re-Invent Itself." I have not seen the magazine inside or out. What does the cover imply? Jim finds it prejudiced. Some of the commentors responding to his post
think that his assessment is misguided or an over-reaction. My own view is similar to Jim's. I have to say that many Europeans seem tone deaf to the depth of racism not just in the U.S. but elsewhere. In many ways this cover reimnds me of a UNICEF campaign designed by a German firm that drew considerable criticism
last summer. In this instance as in that, what seems troubling is less intention than thoughtlessness. That does not make the cover less troubling, it merely shifts the grounds for objecting to it.
At present we in the U.S. have what many consider the first serious black candidate contending for the presidency. We also have the first serious woman candidate contending for the position. The latter has repeatedly criticized the former on grounds that he is relatively 'inexperienced.' I myself think those charges are baseless at best. At less than best they trade on both fearmongering and on racist stereotypes of blacks as naive and childlike. This magazine cover, in my view, trades on precisely the same patronizing and paternalistic stereotypes.
Labels: elections, race