Sunday, March 02, 2008

Teeth Stereotypes

When the media wants to “Other” or stereotype someone or some group, it often does so by making them look ridiculous. Sisterdoc has noticed that no body part is left untouched by the media’s caricaturing…not even the teeth.

For example, during World War II, we saw lots of anti-Japanese propaganda which worked to dehumanize through false representations of teeth.

Similarly, the representation of Blacks’ teeth work to reduce Blackness to the irrelevant and the comical.

In the cases of Michael Strahan selling milk, or that of Tony Sinclair, the Tanqueray gin pitch-man, please remember that ad copy is carefully scripted first. Only the “best” images are then released. Even paparazzi come to look for certain images. It is no coincidence that the photos of these Black men reveal not only a wide smile, but also their gap.  While these men are not being presented as dangerous "brutal bucks," it is hardly any better that they are confined to another predominate stereotype-- the smiling coon/pickininny.

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