Sunday, June 7, 2009

Being a Conscious Viewer to Be a Conscious Consumer

Television commercials, magazine ads, radio ads, and online ads are all forms of passive advertisement. Viewers watch the television, look or listen to the ads and chooses whether or not to fully comprehend the information being dispersed to them

After reading Minjeong Kim and Angie Y. Chung’s journal article “Consuming Orientalism”, I learned that this idea of passive advertisement is a clever tactic used by businesses to seem as if they are promoting racial togetherness in order “to profit off a multi-racial consumer base through greater inclusion while maintaining White male supremacy through the visual consumption of Asian/American women’s bodies” (Kim and Chung 88). This method is truly ingenious, because they gain the support of different races while secretly disempowering them and perpetuating racial stereotypes (88).

One such example is the Virginia Slims ad in which the Asian woman being featured said, “In silence I see. With WISDOM, I speak” (80). The different races being featured are shown with the stereotypes that the media has forced upon them. While looking at the ad on a surface level, the consumer might be touched at this aim to promote racial harmony. However, with a closer read, one can see the history of racial stereotypes behind each of the women and each of the sayings (80).

But how often do we actually examine the ads we see? Try as I might want to be socially conscious, sometimes when I read magazines or watch television for fun, I don’t always see the bigger picture. I'm too zoned out with trying to relax and get away from thinking. Same with consumerism—how often do we examine our consumption habits? Where we shop from? Where our clothes and accessories are made?

That is what I will be taking from this class and my attempt at the compact challenge … Thinking consciously about everything I do, particularly when I shop. Every time I swipe my credit card, does it go toward a company that treats its labor fairly? Or am I simply contributing to the oppression of laborers all around the world? It won’t be easy, but social justice is never easy. I can’t change overnight, I can’t say that I won’t fail from time to time when temptation creeps up on me, but now I can’t say that I didn’t know better, that I wasn’t educated, that I didn’t already learn about this in class. And the empowerment of that knowledge is what will bring me closer to being a smarter consumer.


  1. Kim, Minjeong, and angie y. Chung. "Consuming Orientalism: Images of Asian/American Women in Multicultural Advertising". Qualitative Sociology Spring 2005: 67-88.

Courtney Lorca

Blog #6

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