In many of these cases, the company’s reported goal is to be more inclusive and representational of American families.But I suspect that, in part, interracial couples in ads are less about being progressive and more about the aesthetics of such pairings, the contrast created by putting dark next to light or the humor of awkwardly mixing cultures.Indeed, in 2006, Mastercard ran an ad featuring an Asian-American woman and white man getting engaged; in 2008 Banana Republic, who tends to target WASP-ier demographics, ran an ad campaign featuring a black female model and white male model; the following year, one Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial depicted a white woman with a darker-skinner man eating bagels in bed (sans wedding rings); and in 2010, Lexus ran a holiday commercial featuring a racially ambiguous couple that also received racist backlash.
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A half-century isn’t enough time to dissolve the well-engrained ideas about race and marriage that were constructed after the Civil War, when miscegenation laws spread across the country “to serve as props for the racial system of slavery, as one more way to distinguish free Whites from slaves,” as historian Peggy Pascoe puts it.
The idea that mixing of races was unnatural, against God’s will, and would lead to biological degradation made miscegenation laws a tool to define what a legitimate family was and thereby maintain white supremacy. Virginia decision, seventeen states still had miscegenation laws in place.
In 1990, United Colors of Benetton co-founder Luciano Benetton said that the company ”did not create our advertisements in order to provoke, but to make people talk, to develop citizen consciousness.” But whether the two goals can truly be separated when placed in a commercial context is unclear.
While advertising is often-overlooked territory, many people have researched the portrayal of interracial relationships on the big screen.
Earlier this year, like many other people, I heard about a Cheerios ad, “Just Checking,” that featured an interracial family—a white mother, black father and their daughter—before I saw it.
I was excited about it, sure, but why I was excited didn’t really register until I finally did see it for myself.
According to this informal accumulation of movies with interracial couples, there are twice as many films featuring white men with black women than black men with white women.
For some reason it seems that interracial couples occur more casually and in more diverse ways on television.
A University of Florida study of blockbuster Hollywood films between 19 concluded that the media is stuck on specific portrayals of interracial relationships: in the movies sampled, 42 percent of female characters in such pairings were victims of violence.
“While white women in interracial relationships came across as either morally corrupt or socially inept or as victims of physical or sexual abuse, women of color who become involved with white men were often presented as erotic, exotic and possessing exceptional talents.” And although it is statistically more likely for black men to ‘marry out’ of their race, the movie industry seems less keen on interracial couples with black men.
has been making a bold statement about interracial dating lately.