Occasionally I like to get on my high horse about something. This time, it’s a coffee advert that’s boiling my piss. Take a look.
Perfectly innocuous you might think?
What I object to in this advert is the subtle undercurrent of racism that permeates throughout it. Let me explain.
OK, in this advert we have three main characters. The African mask, the european bust and the disembodied mouth. The African mask, signifying African culture, speaks first as he spies the coffee machine:
“Is that what they call pop art?
The European bust speaks next
“Oh for goodness sake, there goes the neighbourhood”
Whilst on the surface of this, this utterance can be seen as hostility towards any newcomer, but the origins of this phrase are from disapproval of minorities entering all-white neighbourhoods.
Whist aimed at the coffee machine, the origins of this phrase seem jarring as they are uttered in response to the African mask’s opening gambit.
Then we see the African Mask, unable to contain itself, jumping off the sideboard to get to the coffee first. Implicit here are discourses about people of African origin being unable to contain themselves, acting on impulse and without rational thought. Alongside this we see the ultra-white European bust, as the model of restraint “let’s not rush to conclusions” it chides the African mask, implicit here are discourses of white people being restrained, rational, scientist-like in their thoughts and behaviours. The poor African mask rushes to the coffee, calling the white characters “suckers”, also calling forth discourses of rudeness, being without social convention, and falls of the counter top to it’s peril.
The European bust ruefully sighs “completely off his head” at the African mask, bringing forth discourses of madness and instability of non white communities.
Now, I judge this to be a racist advert, but I also have to acknowledge that I am a white woman and do not wish to speak for any one of African heritage. I am, however, interested in wider societal discourses and how they become socially constructed within communities and how those discourses become accepted and strengthened. I would be interested in any reactions to it from people of any background. I am concerned as to how these subtle messages reinforce unhelpful discourses and affect people’s thinking and interactions.
If you think the Nescafe Dolce Gusto advert is inherently racist, please reblog and maybe people who create such ads can consider how supporting these narratives in society is toxic.