Mediations 2021

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Photograph: Kristen Le Taken January 2020


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Table of Contents Beyond the Military-Entertainment Complex: Memory and Politics in a The Political Economy of FPS Videogames and Historical and Digital Age America’s Civilian Arsenal Kristen Le .................................................................. 76 Kaity Adam ............................................................... 2 Soft-Core Child Porn: The Hypersexualization Canadian National Parks System: Settler of Young Women on Social Media Colonial Underpinnings of the Outdoors Alysha Bauer........................................................... 15 Julia Martins ............................................................. 81

Indian Women Have Sex Too? An Analysis of Protest Perception: Mediums Can Influence Four More Shots Please! Meaning Safiya Chagani ....................................................... 23 Madeleine J.M. McColl ........................................... 88 Consumer Culture: the Need for More Stuff A Stronger Loving World: Western Culture with Victoria Giguere ..................................................... 34 Mutual Aid in Place of Social Darwinism Shawn McNamara.................................................... 95 Polly Pocket: Marketing KGOY from Combatting the Neoliberalization of Agriculture Sexualization to Self-Actualization in El Salvador Through Sustainable Farming Claire Hillis .............................................................. 43 Practices Emma Meriano ....................................................... 107 The Origin of Race: How the Capitalist Elite Run-DMC and N.W.A. to Donald Glover and Divide the Working Class Beyoncé Knowles: Rap and Hip-Hop Artists as Juliana Konrad ....................................................... 53 Political Leaders and Activists in the Public Sphere Nicole Ross ............................................................. 119 You’ve Come A Long Way, Maybe: Instagram Is Spying on Me (and I let them): My (Pseudo)Feminism, Manipulation, Virginia Role in Instagram’s Capitalistic Business Slims, and American Women, 1970-1991 Jumana Labib......................................................... 60 Strategy Bianca Vasile .......................................................... 129



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First-person shooter (FPS) video

maintaining the American guns industry

game companies like Electronic Arts

through direct funding to arms

(EA), Activision, and Infinity Ward have

manufacturers (Parkin). Though the

remained mostly unscathed amidst

representation of guns in video games

America’s ongoing gun-control debate.

may not be responsible for the rise of

Despite the clear cultural shift in

gun violence, the mutually beneficial

attitudes towards firearms, FPS game

political and economic relationship

sales are on a continuous incline in the

between FPS games and gun

United States (Entertainment Software

companies contributes to the growth of

Association 21). American game

the civilian gun market in the United

developers have succeeded in

States. In the field of critical political

maintaining an appearance of

economy, FPS video games have been

separation from the epidemic of gun

studied primarily through the lens of the

violence by funding a variety of studies

military-entertainment complex. Most of

proving shooter games do not cause

the existing research on FPS games

real-world gun violence (Yglesias). As a

concerns the cooperative relationship

result, most consumers are unaware that

between video game companies (i.e.,

game companies contribute to

developers and publishers) and the


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United States Armed Forces. Many

placement, and the promotion of pro-

academics have scrutinized the army’s

gun ideologies – has traceable

investment in consumer video games

consequences that have yet to be

like America’s Army as a tool for training,

explored in the context of critical

recruitment, and garnering political

political economy. In this essay, I will

support for military objectives (Lenoir

argue that first-person shooter video

and Lowood 25; Wright and Bogost 76).

game companies like EA and Activision

However, beyond the military’s role in

support the American guns industry

the production, distribution, and

through licensing agreements (i.e.,

consumption of FPS games, little

intellectual property rights to the virtual

research has gone into the private

representation of real-world firearms),

interests and profit models of FPS

marketing deals (i.e., paid in-game

videogame companies. Research from a

product placement), and garnering

variety of disciplines including cultural

support for National Rifle Association

studies, experimental psychology, and

(NRA) objectives via the promotion of

investigative journalism reveals a

gun-wielding “hero” narratives. While

mutually constructive political and

maintaining an innocent façade, FPS

economic relationship between FPS

games create an ideological

game developers and the American

environment that favours real-world gun

guns industry. This relationship –

ownership and draw a profit from the

characterized by intellectual property

sale of firearms.

licensing agreements, in-game product


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All computer-generated

distinguish the goods of one source (i.e.,

representational platforms – including

manufacturer or seller) from those of

first-person shooter videogames – are

another (Cornell Law School). According

built out of intellectual property (Arnold

to the American Trademark Act of 1946,

4). Intellectual property is a type of

any party that shall “use in commerce

ownership that protects intangible

any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or

creative assets, such as videogame

colorable imitation of a registered mark

software (i.e., copyright), brand names

in connection with the sale (…) or

(i.e., trademark), and gaming systems

advertising of any good (…) shall be

(i.e., patent). Intellectual property law

liable” (Arnold 5). In other words,

awards people and businesses the

trademark law protects company names

exclusive right to reproduce, distribute,

and logos from being reproduced in

and profit from their original intellectual

commerce without express permission.

works in order to incentivize intellectual

Thus, in order for a commercial

creation for the benefit of society at

videogame developer to create a digital

large. In the study of FPS games and

representation of a real-world product

their relationship with American firearm

(i.e., a brand-named gun), they must

companies, trademark law is of

acquire legal permission from the

particular importance. A trademark

trademark holder in the form of a

consists of any word, design, symbol, or

licensing agreement. This is intended to

combination thereof used in commerce

prevent confusion among consumers as

to identify the source of goods and to

to whether the product depicted in the


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game is actually associated and

consultants as part of the development

endorsed by the company (Syrkin).

process (Hammar and Woodcock 59).

There is substantial promotional value and legitimacy that accompanies the ingame inclusion of popular brand names, products, and places (Syrkin). As such, licensing agreements between video game companies and arms manufactures are commonplace (Parkin). First-person shooter games seek to portray real-world guns in their games for increased realism and authenticity, leading to more immersive gameplay and higher sales (Hilgard et al.). For war-themed games especially, the inclusion of brand-named weaponry is necessary to remain faithful to the source material (Parkin). Much like the Western film industry, the competition for surface realism has driven FPS game developers to engage with military

Companies like Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. offer a range of military expertise to help developers create realistic combat scenarios for more immersive gameplay (59). The commissioning and licensing of real guns from American arms manufacturers is crucial to achieving optimal realism. The licensing process can be exemplified by EA’s first-person shooter game Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which features, among its many real-world guns, the Remington 870 MCS shotgun. Remington, the arms manufacturer, collects a licensing fee from EA for the right to reproduce their shotgun in digital form (Hilgard et al.). EA, the game publisher, pays a fee – either in the form of a single payment or a sales percentage – to include a near identical


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virtual copy of the Remington firearm in

the form of product placement (Hammar

the game (Hammar and Woodcock 60).

and Woodcock 59). Firearm

Warfighter benefits from realism and

manufacturers often pay game

authenticity while Remington enjoys

developers – or wave the required

increased brand awareness and free in-

licensing fee – to have their weapons

game product placement (Hilgard et al.).

“presented attractively” in big-name

Many consumers are unaware of this

video games (Hilgard et al.). This

mutually beneficial economic

advertising practice is intended to target

relationship due to confidentiality

both existing gun owners (i.e., adults)

agreements that are entered into most

and young players in hopes of turning

licensing contracts that prohibit both

them into future gun owners (Parkin).

parties from discussing the terms of the

The marketing of imitation adult

agreement (Parkin). This is intended to

products to children is not a new

maintain an appearance of innocence

phenomenon, but a long-standing

and disinvolvement from the American

strategy that can be traced to the

epidemic of gun violence, obscuring the

invention of the candy cigarette by

fact that FPS video game companies

Victoria Sweets (Parkin). In 1915, leading

contribute to the continued success of

cigarette brands like Marlboro and

the American arms industry.

Salem authorized their packaging

Alternatively, gun companies are known to seek out advertising opportunities in

designs for use on candy cigarette boxes in hopes that their child customers would blossom into real


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cigarette smokers later in life (Parkin).

“positive light” and must only be used

This strategy has since evolved with the

by the “good guys” in Activision’s Call of

rise of videogames and their immense

Duty series (Parkin). Additionally, the

popularity among young people in

Barrett M82 must be high quality and

America. Gun companies like Barrett

perform to the standards of the real-

Rifles (Barrett) – the creator of the M82

world rifle (Parkin).

.50-calider semi-automatic sniper rifle – use in-game product placement in hopes of turning young players into future gun owners (Parkin).

A recent study revealed that gaming audiences are more inclined to respond to in-game ad messages than any other form of advertising (Syrkin).

In-game product placement entails

Unlike product placement in other

more than simply including brand-

media, in-game product placement

named guns in a video game, but

makes the game feel more – rather than

ensuring they are presented attractively

less – authentic, improving the

and as intended by the firearm company

experience of gameplay with increased

(Hammar and Woodcock 60). According

realism (Syrkin). In-game advertisements

to representatives from Barrett,

are effective in part due to their long

negotiation with video game developers

shelf-life and high replay value

extends to how specific weapons are

(Herrewijn and Poels 7). Video Games

used in the game (60). For example, the

typically take between 10 and 200 hours

Barrett M82 rifle must be shown in a

for a user to complete, meaning players


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are repeatedly and extensively exposed

manufacturers, serving to warrant

to integrated advertising messages (7).

attention from audiences to attend to in-

Additionally, videogames demand high

game advertisements. This free lunch

levels of concentration from audiences

(i.e., gameplay) is also agenda setting as

in comparison to other advertising

it promotes an ideological environment

media, like television, allowing FPS

that favours real-world gun ownership

game developers to guarantee focused

by promoting gun-wielding hero

audience attention to their advertisers

narratives.

(7). By selling audience attention to gun companies in the form of product placement, FPS video games produce a contemporary form of Dallas Smythe’s “audience commodity.” Though it appears that gamers are spending their leisure time playing video games for their own satisfaction, this “free time” is colonized by market forces (Fuchs 701). Players produce value for gun manufacturers by attending to product placements and using brand-named guns for in-game activity. Gameplay acts as a type of “free lunch” for arms

First-person shooter games are embedded with political ideologies that work to advance the private interest of videogame owners and investors (Wright and Bogost 73). According to the theory of “procedural rhetoric,” video games make claims about the world that are learned by players through the act of play (75). As they navigate the rule-based environment of the game, gamers learn to make judgements about the world according to the ideological framework of the


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developers (75). This concept is best

regard for political circumstance, at the

illustrated by the FPS video game

beck and call of their drill sergeant (76).

America’s Army, a commercial war game

The successful completion of each task

released by the United States Army in

earns the player “honor statistics,” much

July 2002 (Lenoir and Lowood 30).

like the actual practice of military

America’s Army was developed by the

decoration (76). The gameplay of

U.S. Army with the primary objective of

America’s Army functions as

educating, training, and recruiting future

propaganda to reinforce America’s one-

soldiers (Wright and Bogost 75). Its

sided perspective on matters of global

gameplay differs from that of other

conflict, thereby advancing the interests

popular FPS games like Counterstrike in

of the game owner, the United States

that it aims to recreate the real-world

Army (77). America’s Army exemplifies

process of army training for a

how videogame companies and their

mainstream consumer audience. Much

investors use media messages to

like real U.S. Army soldiers, players in

advance their private interests. The

the game are taught to be obedient and

concept of procedural rhetoric can be

apolitical (77). Players are ordered to

used to examine the relationship

complete tasks that, like real army

between videogame creators and arms

missions, are decontextualized from

companies. Through procedural

global geopolitics (76). In order to

rhetoric, FPS games teach players that

progress through the game, they must

gun ownership and heroism are

shoot and kill abstract enemies, without

intertwined, which directly supports a


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business environment that favours gun-

The military-entertainment complex has

ownership in the real world (i.e., by

established an inseparable connection

encouraging political support for

between gun-ownership and patriotism

decreased gun regulation, less gun

in America’s collective psyche. In films

control, Second Amendment rights,

like Black Hawk Down and FPS video

etc.). Heroes are righteous and moral

games like Call of Duty, the gun-wielder

beings who use their might to fight for

is depicted as courageous, virtuous, and

justice and public good (Poudrier 36).

patriotic. These games teach players

The weapon-hero association is a pillar

that gun-ownership is noble, honest,

of Western culture and a persistent

and even admirable. This myth supports

narrative tradition (35). The presence of

a business environment that favours gun

guns in American entertainment media

ownership in the real-world, thereby

is not a new phenomenon, but the most

advancing the political and economic

recent in a tradition of armed heroes

interests of video game creators and

and powerful weaponry dating back to

gun manufacturers.

ancient folklore. From Achilles’s spear to Beowulf’s magical sword, heroes have always been defined by their choice of weapon (35). In contemporary American culture, the notion of the armed hero has translated into the “war hero”: a noble defender of American values (36).

FPS games also teach players that guns and violence (i.e., death, war, trauma, etc.) are not exclusively connected. The myth that “guns don't kill people, people kill people” is used to downplay the harmful effects of gun


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violence and to attribute blame to

mutilation, trauma, or moral dilemma

deranged individuals rather than

(112). This fiction allows arms

America’s poor gun regulation laws

companies and lobbyist groups (i.e., the

(Harris 24). This narrative is essential in

NRA) to convince players that gun

achieving the NRA’s political objectives –

regulation is unnecessary and anti-

increasing the flow of guns to civilians

American. The myths propagated by

for profit – and maintaining the success

FPS games create an ideological

of the American guns industry. FPS

environment that favours gun

games spread this myth in part by

ownership, shaping American politics in

downplaying the price of in-game failure

the interest of existing economic

(Dyer-Witheford and De Peuter 113). If,

powers. While maintaining an

for example, a soldier (i.e., player) in Full

appearance of separation from the

Spectrum Warrior is seriously wounded

epidemic of gun violence in the United

by a gunshot, he will eventually die

States, FPS game companies support

(113). However, he can be revived by his

the American guns industry through

squad almost immediately if he is

licensing agreements, marketing deals,

carried back to the Casualty Evacuation

and the promotion of “war hero” myths.

point (113). Unlike gun violence in the

By purchasing these games, consumers

real world, every mistake in the game

unwittingly fund arms companies,

can be undone in an endless “save-die-

allowing gun manufacturers to continue

restart” sequence (112). Players are

producing and distributing firearms in

immortal in a war without death,

America. Both arms companies and


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video game companies profit from the sale of deadly weapons in the civilian market, endangering the lives of the American people for capital gain.


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Works Cited

Arnold, Jason D. “Licensing Concerns for Virtual Worlds.” Journal of Internet Law, vol. 14, no. 11, Aspen Publishers, Inc., May 2011, pp. 3–8. Cornell Law School. “Trademark.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, 2016, www.law.cornell.edu/wex/trademark. Dyer-Witheford, Nick, and Greig. De Peuter. Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Game. University of Minnesota Press, 2009. Entertainment Software Association. Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry 2019. Entertainment Software Association, 2019. pp. 21. Fuchs, Christian. “Dallas Smythe Today - The Audience Commodity, the Digital Labour Debate. Marxist Political Economy and Critical Theory.” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, vol. 10, no. 2, Sept. 2012, pp. 692–740, doi:10.31269/triplec.v10i2.443. Hammar, Emil Lundedal, and Jamie Woodcock. "The Political Economy of Wargames: The Production of History and Memory in Military Video Games." War Games: Memory, Militarism and the Subject of Play, 2019. pp. 53-60. Harris, Rabia. “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.” Fellowship, vol. 65, no. 11-12, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Dec. 1999, p. 24, http://search.proquest.com/docview/209437351/. Herrewijn, Laura, and Karolien Poels. The Effectiveness of in-Game Advertising: The Role of AdFormat, Game Context and Player Involvement. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1 Jan. 2015, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1695814456/. Hilgard, J., et al. “Brief Use of a Specific Gun in a Violent Game Does Not Affect Attitudes Towards That Gun.” Royal Society Open Science, vol. 3, no. 11, Royal Society, Nov. 2016, doi:10.1098/rsos.160310. Lenoir, Tim and Henry Lowood. Theatres of War: The Military Entertainment Complex. Stanford University Press, 2003. pp. 1-42. Parkin, Simon. “Shooter: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers.” Eurogamer, 2019, https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-01-shooters-how-video-games-fundarms-manufacturers.


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Poudrier, Almira F. “The Virtue of the Weaponed Hero.” The Humanist, vol. 61, no. 4, American Humanist Association, July 2001, pp. 35–37. Syrkin, Matthew. “In-Game Placement: Guns, Guitars and Gadgets: Think Again Before You Depict Something You Don’t Own or License in Your Video Game.” Hughes Hubbard & Reed. https://www.hugheshubbard.com/news/in-game-placement-guns -guitars-and gadgets-think-again-before-you-depict-something-you-dont-own-or-license-in-yourvideo-game. Wright, Will, and Ian Bogost. “Political Processes.” Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. MIT Press, 2007, pp. 67-98. Yglesias, Matthew. “Video Games Don’t Cause Violent Crime.” Vox, 2019, https://www.vox.com/2019/8/5/20754769/trump-video-games-mass-shooting-el-paso toledo.


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The culture of the male gaze, self-

objectification, and even body shame other

imposed across social media and rewarded

women at higher rates. In recent years, social

with engagement, rewards underage women

media influencers have become younger and

for hyper-sexualization. Self-sexualization can

younger, and thus, sexualized in each one of

be empowering for women, and even

their social posts by adults that follow them

considered as a feminist statement, but it puts

and engage with their content (McKenney

youth at risk of pedophilic observation and

and Bigler). Comments sections are flooded

psychological detriment through their

with adults lusting after these young girls,

engagement within social networks. Women

leaving them entirely vulnerable to the

develop a sense of internalized sexualization

pedophilic male gaze and the harmful

at the hands of oppressive patriarchy and the

scrutiny and psychological impact that comes

belief that their sexual attractiveness to males

with internet popularity. The “male gaze”

is an integral part of their identity that begins

coined by Mulvey, is the perspective of a

at a young age. In a study by McKenney and

heterosexual man embodied in the audience

Bigler, it was found that young girls with

of visual media with a tendency of

higher levels of internalized sexualization

objectifying and sexualizing women. This is

wear more revealing clothing, have a

often self-imposed on social media through

behavioral manifestation of self-

hypersexualized posting (Mulvey). The current


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sexualized ideology of women affords young

analyzed to be more valuable, even if its

girls the opportunities to express themselves

subject is prepubescent. Young girls are

sexually in ways that they find subjectively

especially likely to adopt the gendered

powerful and fun which can be empowering,

behaviours that their peers or role models

whether that be through learning a new

take part in when they are rewarded for said

dance on Tik Tok or posting a picture at the

behaviour (Starr and Ferguson). This is

beach. To oppose this, it can be argued that

applicable to social media behaviours and the

equating subjective enjoyment with

trend toward sexualized content. This thesis

empowerment ignores oppressive cultural

will be explored through the analysis of the

practices such as sexism and the patriarchy

repercussions and pedophilia that is

along with the economic practices of social

normalized within social media culture.

networks that routinely commodify women's

Popular visual media apps such as Tik Tok

bodies. (Daniels and Zurbriggen).

and Instagram favour content that sexualizes

Using a narrowed social network

women, and in recent years this has been

analysis approach, this research paper

explicitly evident for the cases of young

examines the correlation between the self-

women, as explored in Ramsey and Horan’s

sexualization of young girls on social media,

article in which they found sexualized photos

the social media “rewards” they reap, and the

of women perform better in terms of likes and

detriments that come with this hyper-

followers as opposed to their non-sexualized

sexualization at a young age. Social Networks

counterparts on the same profile (Ramsey and

are economically focused, and the value

Horan). While employing the male gaze

derived from sexualized content has been

appears to be beneficial while on social


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networking applications, the findings within

influencer, Danielle Cohn. The young star

the Daniels and Zurbriggen article explore

gained breakout fame on the app Musical.ly

the real-life social effects and detriment of

(now Tik Tok), becoming one of the first social

how posting sexualized photos impact the

stars to surpass 10 million followers on the

relationships between women negatively,

app. Danielle Cohn is now known for being

putting them in the way of increased scrutiny

an underage sex symbol and being

opposed to their less sexualized counterparts

misleading about her age. She was featured

(Daniels and Zurbriggen). This data is

in a Netflix documentary series Follow This in

reflected in my personal Instagram as well.

which she discussed how her sexualized

For example, in Figure 1, these photos of a

presence affected her relationships and what

friend and I while teenagers. In the first photo

led to her being homeschooled. “It was just a

we are both fully clothed on a boat, and the

normal school. Like until I started

second we are in bikinis also on a boat. The

getting big. Then girls started fighting me,

engagement is vastly different, clearly

because they were getting jealous of it. I lost

favouring the more provocative image and

all my friends.” (Harrop and Hilton). Her social

highlighting the omnipresent pressures of

networks are seemingly curated to make her

sexuality in young girls on social media.

look older, dressing in revealing clothing and

Combined, this is all to explore the ever-

hypersexualized positions appearing as

growing damage this can cause to

women older than her would (Figure 2). Her

developing girls.

fame rose mostly from her appearance on the

An example of this hyper-sexualization prevalent on social media is 14-year-old

app, with no discernible talent or focused content, her followers are just coming to see


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her. Cohn being sexualized comes only

with many fans and just as many critics, as

because adults are sexualizing a child. Young

exhibited in Figure 2, Cohn receives copious

girls like Cohn may partake in a behaviour

hate comments further reinforcing

such as dancing or jumping around in a Tik

misogynistic slut-shaming ideologies that can

Tok video as a fun activity, but as this

have harmful consequences on her sense of

behaviour is sexualized, the cultural

self. Mini celebrities like Cohn raise the

conditioning leads viewers to see it through

debate between this topic being concerned

the lens of the male gaze, degrading young

with feminist ideology that persists that

women to a mere sexual object (Mulvey). “The

women should have the autonomy over how

extent to which a society endorses sexual

they present themselves and their bodies, on

objectification is related to the likelihood of

the contrary, it exposes dangerous practices

girls/women engaging in self-sexualizing

for teenage girls who are not yet familiarized

practices, such as posting sexualized photos

with the world and cultural ideologies around

on social media, intended to increase their

them.

heterosexual appeal regardless of possible

Objectification theory argues that

costs associated with enacting a sexualized

Western societies routinely sexually objectify

appearance” (Daniels and Zurbriggen). As a

the female body and raise it to be scrutinized

result of cultural pressure, many girls like

and objectified for pleasure and evaluation of

Cohn objectify themselves, thus shifting the

men (Fredrickson and

focus of attention to their bodies based on

Roberts). “Objectification theory posits that

how they look as opposed to what they as

the cultural milieu of sexual objectification

individuals can do. This rise to fame has come

functions to socialize girls and women to treat


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themselves as objects to be evaluated on the

standard provides the basis for the practice of

basis of appearance...Other people's

slut-shaming which describes the process of

evaluations of their physical appearance can

condemning women for presumed sexual

determine how girls and women are treated

activity. In a study conducted in 2016, it was

in day-to-day interactions, which in turn can

found that women who chose to post

shape their social and economic life

photos in underwear or swimwear on social

outcomes” (Fredrickson et al).

media were looked down upon by their peers

It is a difficult line to debate, as there is

and ascribed behavioral coding such as being

a public discomfort and shame around

called a “slut” or a “skank” by study

watching young girls figure out their sexuality

participants (Daniels and Zurbriggen). Young

in the public eye. From TV stars to social

women are caught in an endless cycle of

media influencers, the public appears to be

facing pressures of appearing attractive and

implicitly implicated in how young women

combating the negative connotations that are

grow into their sexuality, especially when

associated with it. As noted by social

there is so much discourse around women’s

commentator John Berger, “A woman must

bodies and how much skin they expose.

continually watch herself. She is almost

Males are taught early to learn and act

continually accompanied by her own image

upon (heterosexual) sexuality whereas girls

of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room

are taught modesty while also having to

or whilst she is weeping at the death of her

perform their burgeoning sexuality for the

father, she can scarcely avoid envisioning

male gaze (Valenti). This sexual double

herself walking or weeping… Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of


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being appreciated as herself by another

misogyny that is then imposed on all those

(Berger). This illustrates the intrapsychic costs

that partake in it. Adolescent girls are

of self-objectification and the social

subjected to unsolicited photos of genitalia

repercussions that follow it (Figure 3). This

from men, pressured to send nude photos,

way of viewing oneself depletes mental and

and subject to mini competitions within social

emotional resources as the woman is in the

groups that equate their “likes” online to

constant reproduction of herself by

social value and thus, must portray

envisioning an observer’s view of herself. In

themselves in sexualized ways to gain a

Daniels and Zurbriggen’s study, it was

competitive edge and social validation. Non-

demonstrated that when study participants

compliance with cultural expectations results

who partook in experimentally induced self-

in social and personal complications and

objectification, it caused women to

repercussions that can be majorly damaging.

experience body shame and restricted eating

According to the objectification theory, the

and even caused them to perform poorly on

first psychological consequence of the

mathematics tests due to the emotional and

cultural treatment of objectification is self-

psychological detriments of the study

objectification (Fredrickson and Roberts). The

(Daniels and Zurbriggen). Young women are

practice of self-objectification across social

a paradoxical position of experiencing social

media posits women’s concern with their

and cultural pressure to be perceived as sexy

appearance and sexuality as a competitive

while simultaneously risking penalties and

standpoint and as a social survival tactic to

social detriment for this behavior. Social

garner attention and acceptance across social

media often reinforces a culture of sexism and

networks. The emotional and behavioral


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repercussions of self-objectification reflect the

ascribed to the female body and young

psychological damage that the cultural

women’s sexuality must change as a culture. It

objectifying view of the female body is doing

is not teenage girls to blame for this problem,

to a society of young women growing up on

it is the society they were raised in.

social media. The meanings and expectations

Figures

Figure 1 (@Alyshaautumn on Instagram)

Figure 3 (Daniels and Zurbriggen) Figure 2 (@DanielleCohn on Instagram)


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Works Cited Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. British Broadcasting Corp., 2012 Daniels, Elizabeth A., and Eileen L. Zurbriggen. “‘It’s Not the Right Way to Do Stuff on Facebook:’ An Investigation of Adolescent Girls’ and Young Women’s Attitudes Toward Sexualized Photos on Social Media.” Sexuality & Culture, vol. 20, no. 4, 2016, pp. 936–964. Fredrickson, Barbara L., and Tomi-Ann Roberts. “Objectification Theory: Toward Understanding Women's Lived Experiences and Mental Health Risks.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 2, 1997, pp. 173–206. Fredrickson, Barbara L., et al. “‘That Swimsuit Becomes You: Sex Differences in SelfObjectification, Restrained Eating, and Math Performance’: Correction to Fredrickson Et Al. (1998).” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 75, no. 5, 1998, pp. 1098–1098., Harrop, Jessica, and Shani O. Hilton. “Follow This ‘Teen Boss.’” Follow This, season 2, episode 2, BuzzFeed News, 28 Sept. 2018. McKenney, Sarah J., and Rebecca S. Bigler. “Internalized Sexualization and Its Relation to Sexualized Appearance, Body Surveillance, and Body Shame Among Early Adolescent Girls.” The Journal of Early Adolescence 36, no. 2 (February 2016): 171–97. Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1999. Ramsey, Laura R., and Amber L. Horan. “Picture This: Womens Self-Sexualization in Photos on Social Media.” Personality and Individual Differences 133 (2018): 85–90. Starr, Christine R., and Gail M. Ferguson. “Sexy Dolls, Sexy Grade-Schoolers? Media & Maternal Influences on Young Girls’ Self-Sexualization.” Sex Roles 67, no. 7-8 (June 2012): 463–76. Valenti, J. The purity myth: How America's obsession with virginity is hurting young women. Berkeley, CA. Seal (2010)


23

Within the last decade, there has been

expanded across the globe, inspiring foreign

an increasing demand for diverse forms of

industries to recount the lived experience of

representation on TV. Not only are audiences

women in their own countries as well. Amazon

craving for more visible minorities to be

Prime’s Four More Shots Please! Follows the

featured on screen, there is also a demand for

lives of a group of friends in their 20s and 30s,

people of colour to be put at the forefront of

navigating their way through modern day

these TV shows. Audiences want to see shows

Mumbai. It’s been deemed as India’s Sex and

that showcase the lived experience and

the City, and works to celebrates women as

stories revolving around people of colour.

sexual beings, and advocates for sex

Over the years the number of shows revolving

positivity. India as a country is more of a

around people of colour has increased,

conservative one, where sex education is non-

specifically with women of colour. Shows like

existent, and women specifically Amazon

Never Have I Ever, Scandal and How to Get

Prime’s Four More Shots Please! Features four

Away with Murder document the experiences

women in their 20s and 30s navigating their

of these women of colour within a North

way through modern day Mumbai. The sex

American setting. However, it is important to

positive show advocates for sex positivity and

note the different experiences of women in

celebrates women as sexual beings as they

other countries as well. Feminist TV has slowly

navigate the relationships between


24

themselves, and those around them. India is

motherhood etc. all while living in modern

more of a traditional, and conservative

day Mumbai (“Four More Shots Please!”). Each

country where sex is something that isn’t seen

of the girl’s stories are quite progressive, and

nor heard in mainstream media. Four More

unconventional. Damini, an investigative

Shots Please! Is a show that is at the forefront

journalist who owns her own online blog, is in

of a new wave of more progressive, and sex

trouble with her board of directors for writing

positive content from India. As a result, Four

risky stories. Umang works as a personal

More Shots Please! Can be considered a post-

trainer at a gym and is very open about being

feminist show, as it works to explore complex

bisexual. She develops a romantic

and mature themes surrounding women

relationship with one of her clients, a famous

under the context of modern-day India.

Bollywood actress, and must deal with the

Four More Shots Please! Is a web series

repercussions of her relationship being outed

on Amazon Prime directed by Anu Menon

to the public. Anjana is a lawyer, and single

and Nupur Asthana. It’s first season aired in

mom, co-parenting her four-year-old child

2019 to great success, with season two also

with her ex-husband who is starting to

garnering great success, the show being

introduce his new girlfriend to their child. She

deemed “the most-watched Indian show on

slowly learns how to gain her sexuality back

the platform.” (Four More Shots Please!) The

and pursues a relationship with her intern at

series surrounds four women, two in their 30s

her firm. Finally, Siddhi is a young, single child

and two in their early 20s, and documents

from a wealthy family who constantly feels the

how they navigate love, friendship,

pressure from her mother to get engaged to a suitable man. Fed up with the constant


25

berating from her mother, she decides to

intersectional approach, in order to highlight

explore her sexuality on a live camera site

how concepts like race, class and sex

called SexBods.

intersect, as well as to show how women’s

During the first two waves of feminism, women have been able to gain liberal freedom by gaining the right to work, and

lived experiences differ (Gill). Not only does Gill emphasize a need for more of an intersectional approach regarding post-

vote. However, despite these liberal

feminism, but also states that there is a need

freedoms, there is still a long way to go in the

for a transnational approach as well. Post-

journey for equality for all. So, it has become

feminism should not only be considered to be

imperative to emphasize what exactly women

a Western term, demanding inclusivity and

are fighting for during the third wave of

empowerment in the West, but should also

feminism, and beyond. Rosalind Gill first

be adopted in countries all over the world,

coined the term post-feminism close to a

like India.

decade ago, to describe how feminism

What makes Four More Shots Please!

operates and is practiced in an increasingly

Such a revolutionary show is not the fact that

post-feminist world. In her article The

it is a show that stars four women but is a

Affective, Cultural and Psychic Life of Post

show that explores four different ways women

feminism Gill reflects back on her original

practice their own sexuality. In a country like

work regarding post-feminism, and how the

India where women are traditionally subject

term has evolved over time. Gill notes that

to heavy amounts of pressure from the

post-feminism works to push towards a more

patriarchy, are domesticized in order to be


26

married off at an early age and are not

seeing sexual acts like masturbation as,

encouraged to seek out an education or

“shameful and dirty” (Lee, 138). What makes

career. Four More Shots Please! highlights the

Four More Shots Please! post-feminist is that it

narrative that India is changing, and that

celebrates women as sexual beings, and that

women of colour are empowering themselves

being sexually active is seen as normal thing

without Western influence under post-

amongst women. Anjana is a single mom who

feminism. However, it is important to note that

admits that she has not had sex since her

most of the sexual relationships practice on

divorce four years ago. The rest of the girls

the show, and are shown on camera, are

are shocked when she admits that she has not

heterosexual ones. Though this show

even looked at her vagina in years.

celebrates female sexuality, it unfortunately

Throughout the episode the girls encourage

perpetuates heteronormativity.

her to reclaim her sexuality, to become more

Sexuality in India has traditionally been

comfortable with her vagina, and to join some

confined to the deep-rooted patriarchal

online dating sites. The most impactful scene

structures of the country. Though sexuality for

in the episode is the last one, where the four

men is seen as liberal and common, female

girls are sitting on the street, coming up

sexuality is confined to the institution of

names for their vaginas and yelling them out

marriage, where she is assumed to be

for everyone to hear (Episode 2, 24:50). Here,

subordinated by her husband (Lee, 135).

the four girls are reclaiming their sexuality. By

Female sexuality in India is traditionally

repeating the word “vagina” over and over

something that is never seen, nor ever heard,

again, in different languages while also using slang, the girls are working to normalize


27

talking about female private parts in a non-

operating under the male gaze. Most of

sexual, but also sexual way. It’s adding to the

Bollywood’s plots feature male-focused plots,

discourse, and conversations regarding the

where women are often domesticized, or are

female body into the mainstream. The girls

there for pure decoration (Gupta). If the

are encouraging Anjana to start having sex

woman were to have any sort of role in the

again, outside of her marriage to her previous

film, they would most likely be given a high

husband. Here, Anjana learns that it is okay

energy dance number that contributes

for her to practice her sexuality outside of her

nothing to the plot, serving as a mere

marriage, and essentially, have casual sex with

spectacle for the male audience. Four More

men. This is an inherently positive thing for

Shots Please! actively works to combat this by

the female audience watching this show, as

placing women at the forefront, without

people in India are not used to women talking

having them subject to the male gaze. In the

about their body or sexuality on camera. This

show, sexuality is seen as something

scene is one of many throughout the show

empowering for the four girls. The men they

that a woman can be educated and practice

have sex with are minor characters on the

agency regarding their bodies, which has

show, the explicit details of the sexual

proven to be inspiring to a number of viewers

encounter are not highlighted, instead, the

(Jhunjhunwala).

women choose to talk about what the sex

Similar to the ideas regarding sexuality amongst Indian youth, the Indian film sector often attempts to perpetuate this by

meant for them. Sex in the show is seen as an empowering act, and the audience sees one


28

of the characters on the show go through this

mother constantly berate her in order to find

process herself. Siddhi is an only child in a

her a husband. Siddhi wants to have

wealthy family, her mother Sneha desperate

something for herself, where she has control

to find her a suitable man to marry. She takes

over her own body outside of the pressures

singing and dancing lessons, goes to fancy

and demands of the institution of marriage.

parties to socialize, and diets in order to go

So, she goes to a Live Camera sex site and

on dates with eligible bachelors set up by her

decides to turn her webcam on, stripping and

mother. Siddhi also chooses to save herself

performing to viewers who are praising her

for marriage as she is conditioned by her

(Episode 5, 28:45). Siddhi is not sexualizing

mother, and culture surrounding arranged

herself as a spectacle, or in a way to achieve

marriages, that you have to be a virgin in

male attention, but is instead taking control

order to be the perfect wife. One night,

and power over her own body for her own

Siddhi comes home drunk to find her mother

pleasure. This is the beginning of her journey

sitting on the couch waiting for her. Sneha

of finding her own confidence, and to stand

tells Siddhi that she needs to stop hanging

up for herself, which she does multiple times

out with these “loose girls,” and if she

throughout the rest of the season.

continues to reject the men, she sets Siddhi

Though Four More Shots Please! can

up on dates with, then she will never marry,

be considered to be a post-feminist show due

and “what does she have without that”

to its intersectional and transnational

(Episode 5, 26:25). After getting into an

approach, but it is important to note its

argument, Siddhi storms out of the room.

limitations as well. Gill notes that an element

Here, Siddhi grows frustrated of having her


29

of post-feminism is that it coincides with and

to take expensive last-minute trips to Goa.

falls under neoliberal ideals. Neoliberalism

Though these women feel empowered

influences post-feminism to emphasize

through their clothing, high paying jobs, and

individual success over structural change. It

the liberation they feel by having casual sex, it

influences feminism to believe that material

brings out a notion that in order to be truly

success, entrepreneurialism and meritocracy

free and liberated, you need to be wealthy.

are ways in which feminists can continue to

The biggest example of this

the fight for equal rights, when in reality this is

throughout the show is Umang’s story.

hardly the case (Gill). Neoliberal thinking

Umang is from a small village in India, before

encourages women to place more value in

she runs away from her family to Mumbai to

individual empowerment and success rather

escape getting engaged. When she first

than recognizing the institutional oppression

arrives in Mumbai, she is made fun of for the

they face under the structures of the

clothes she wears, and the fact that she

patriarchy. Four More Shots Please! is a prime

cannot speak English (Episode 6, 1:20).

example of neoliberal thinking under post-

Umang quickly learns that in order to find any

feminism. The show takes place in South

success in a city like this, she will need to find

Mumbai, one of the wealthiest districts and

a high paying job. Though the show

cities in India, where all four women have high

advocates for female success and sexual

paying jobs, or come from wealthy families

liberation, it seems that the show only

(Gupta). It is clear that money is no object to

portrays that a woman can be liberated if she

these women, with their expensive looking

has acquired material wealth. The show fails

wardrobes, fancy apartments and can afford


30

to go into depth of lower caste or class

judge and opposing lawyer. The judge

women in India, only showcasing that the

chastises her for speaking English instead of

modern Indian woman can be sexually free in

the regional language Marathi and is made

wealthy cities like Mumbai.

fun of when she admits she does not speak it.

Again, it’s important to note how the show fails to highlight the structural

This scene proves that though a successful lawyer in a male dominated environment, she

oppression they face. Some of the problems

is still not taken seriously amongst her peers,

the girls face throughout the show are

because she is a woman. The judge also

consequential of the lives that they live under

refers to Damini as a “girl” instead of a woman

the patriarchal structures of their society.

(Episode 1, 14:47), already establishing the

However, these problems are thought of to

fact that he does not take women seriously in

be individual that comes out of consequence

the first place.

of the characters actions, and not the

Instead of recognizing that they had

patriarchy. Damini, an editor-in-chief of her

lost the case due to the judge demeaning

news blog, is currently in court after being

them in court, and the patriarchal struggle

sued for defamation. She relies on her lawyer,

women face in the workplace, Damini blames

and best friend Anjana to help her win the

Anjana for losing the case later in the season.

case in order to keep a story on her site

This scene is a testing point for all the girls in

(Episode 1, 13:46). As soon as Anjana begins

the group and showcases that though Four

to argue her case, she immediately starts to

More Shots Please! is feminist, it also operates

be made fun of and put down by the male

under the ideals of neoliberalism. In this


31

scene Siddhi finally admits to being a cam

they want, that they are allowed to be human,

model to the girls and explains that she is

this statement falls on deaf ears, as these

being blackmailed. Anjana chastises Siddhi

women believe that being a woman in India

for going online in the first place, that women

still means adopting their behavior to

should not put themselves in positions like

successfully operate in a country where men

these because they live in a world of “shitty,

are seen as dominant over women.

misogynistic men” (Episode 10, 4:52). Though

In conclusion, Four More Shots Please!

the other women defend Siddhi, stating that

can be considered to be a post-feminist show

Anjana is victim blaming, they continue to

due to its intersectional and transnational

berate each other. Anjana slut shames Umang

approach to women in India. The show places

for sleeping around, and Damini says that

female sexuality at the forefront, and attempts

Anjana is too distracted by her home life to

to bring concepts regarding the female body,

win any of her defamation cases. In the end,

and female sexuality into mainstream

though the girls claim to support women and

discourse. Four More Shots Please! argues

are feminists, everything has its limitations. It perfectly encapsulates being a woman in India, where though the women feel liberated for living modern lives in Mumbai, they must still alter and censor themselves in order to protect themselves from the patriarchal society they live in. Though Umang states that women should be allowed to do whatever

that sexuality should be normalized amongst women in India, and that it should be seen as a source of female empowerment. However, it is important to note that although Four More Shots Please! advocates for female empowerment and liberation, it’s postfeminist approach also works to operate


32

under neoliberal ideals. The girls find their

empowerment takes away from the

empowerment through material wealth and

unification that post-feminism is supposed to

success, by spending money on clothes and

represent, as it should work to take down the

trips, finding individual empowerment in their

oppressive structures of the patriarchy that

consumption of goods, and people. This

are instilled in the institutions that govern

focus on individual success and

their lives.


33

Works Cited Abraham, Leena. “Redrawing the Lakshman Rekha: Gender Differences and Cultural Constructions in Youth Sexuality in Urban India.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, vol. 24, no. 1, 2001, pp. 133–156., doi:10.1080/00856400108723441. “Four More Shots Please!” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Nov. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_More_Shots_Please!#Cast. Gill, Rosalind. “The affective, cultural and psychic life of postfeminism: A postfeminist sensibility 10 years on.” European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol 20., no. 6, pp. 606-626. Gupta, Alisha Haridasani. “With 'Four More Shots Please!,' India Gets Its Own 'Sex and the City'.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/08/arts/television/four-more-shots-please.html. Jhunjhunwala, Udita. “Four More Shots Please: Feminism Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Deal.” Mint, 24 Apr. 2020, www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/four-more-shots-please-feminism-isnot-a-one-size-fits-all-deal-11587702740411.html. Nandy, Rangita Pritish, creator. Four More Shots Please!. Amazon Video, 2019.


34

Today, doing virtually anything results

56). Consumer culture in the new age has

in a bombarding of advertisements. The

resulted in material goods being one of the

marketing world of billboards and

primary ways to identify someone’s

newspapers has expanded to include buses,

personality, wealth, and overall life success.

Facebook pages, and Instagram posts, all

Growing up in an age where advertisements

with the same message: BUY. Society’s more

are as common as any other media, youth

technical term for this phenomenon is

have become accustomed to shopping and

“consumer culture”, and it has altered what it

materialism making up a large chunk of their

means to be successful, wealthy, and every

lives. Consumer culture is the result of many

other attribute. The term “lifestyle” within the

things, but undoubtedly a portion of this new

context of consumer culture is noted to be a

way of life has come from marketing. This

mark of “individuality, self-expression, and

investigation will examine advertising’s role in

stylistic self-consciousness... body, clothes,

the creation of the modern consumer culture,

speech, leisure...home, car, choice of

in relation to other factors. It will attempt to

holidays, etc., are to be regarded as

showcase evidence of consumer culture, both

indicators of the individuality of taste and

in compliance and rebellion of this way of life.

sense of style of the consumer” (Featherstone,

Ultimately, it will analyze the role that the


35

economy, environment, and advertising plays

bourgeoisie class was significantly wealthier

in the creation of a new age mindset on

than the proletariat, to a point where lower

material goods. In recent years, a number of

working-class people could not afford much

factors have led to the current state of

beyond necessity. Conspicuous consumption

consumer culture and its societal effects in the

was a way to tell others that the person in

modern era, resulting in a drastic change of

question had money to burn. What has

lifestyle for the individual and massive

become interesting is how conspicuous

repercussions for the planet. Consumer

consumption has shifted and evolved to exist

culture as a lifestyle was established originally

in the modern era. In a way, Veblen might

by Thorstein Veblen, who talked a lot about

consider most people nowadays to be

the idea of “conspicuous consumption”: in his

culprits of conspicuous consumption, as most

original thesis paper he argued that wealthy

of the purchases the average consumer

individuals often “consume[d] highly

makes today would be hard pressed to be

conspicuous goods and services in order to

necessities. This brings up a lot of questions:

advertise their wealth, thereby achieving

the phenomenon of conspicuous

greater social status” (Bagwell and Bernheim,

consumption was largely based on its

349). Many credit him for the beginnings of

historical context. Now that it is much more

research on material goods as tools of status.

common to purchase more goods and

The desire to signal one’s wealth and improve

services for pleasure, is this style of living still

social standing has been dubbed the “Veblen

considered conspicuous? Or simply a mark of

effect”. However, Veblen’s original idea was

the time period and the current economic

tailored to a time period in which the

climate? In the era of Veblen’s theories,


36

consumer culture was a direct result of

so rapidly? In Born to Buy: The

wanting to put one’s wealth on full display.

Commercialized Child and the New Consumer

Today, this is still a factor, among many others

Culture, author Juliet Schor notes that the

which have led to non-stop consumption

accumulation of “stuff” was a result of rising

being marketed as a rather normal part of

worker hours, and, by correlation, an

everyday life. The first and most obvious

increased standard of material living due to a

effect that comes to mind is none other than

generally wealthier population. “Through the

advertising. Although it has been around for

boom years of the nineties...new wealth led to

centuries, recent advertising trends have left

a dramatic upscaling of consumer

no platform untouched.

norms...luxury replaced comfort as the

Instagram and other forms of social media are

national aspiration” (Schor, 10). Many agree

especially plastered, as is virtually every other

with this train of thought: worker wages going

physical surface within someone’s field of

up meant that people had more extra money

view. Society has let advertising engulf it,

to spend on things like leisure and pleasure.

almost to the point where it becomes hardly

This led to the average consumer buying

noticed. This undoubtedly has had a major

more, which only continued to further

effect on our consumption patterns: if things

escalate as salaries continued to rise. I wanted

are advertised to us as “necessities” (not items

a more direct opinion on why consumption

to survive on, but things necessary to be

had grown so exponentially, so I asked my

successful), then we will purchase more of

parents about their experiences. My mom

them. But when did this need to buy escalate

(who is a marketing professor at Laurier) attributed a lot of it to, in her words, “the


37

growth of wealth and maturation of the North

always better” has accelerated the lifespan of

American market”, meaning that trades and

nearly everything someone owns.

economic deals have continued to become

However, through all of these reasons for

more respected in other parts of the world,

increased rates of consumption, advertising

leading to greater economic prosperity. My

still seems to be the frontrunner. Marketing

dad, on the other hand (not in business),

and how companies brand themselves affects

thought that it mostly had to do with the

nearly every purchasing decision a consumer

“keeping up with the Jones’” effect: it has

makes. An excellent example of this is the

become much more commonplace to look at

International Color Authority (ICA).

one’s neighbour and desire what they have.

Responsible for selecting a slew of trending

These are both likely to be factors in the rising

colours “published twenty-two months in

consumerism trends seen especially in the

advance” of when clothing, textile, and

Western world. There are still other factors

product lines will be released, this association

that have contributed to this boom of

is the reason that a consumer can purchase a

consumption. As technology has continued to

dress in one store and find a perfectly

advance, people are beginning to place more

matching necklace in another (ICA, 2017).

value on entertainment and material goods as

There are a few key reasons that stores follow

opposed to human interaction. This is a social

the ICA’s recommendations: it is more

phenomenon that has continued to progress

profitable if things match at a variety of stores,

and will most likely keep breaching on

as the customer is more enticed to buy

genuine human connection. Now, disposable

multiple and wear them together. The ICA

technology and the mindset that “newer is


38

also tends to pick slightly different shades

current business practices (Flett, 2017). But

from previous years. For example, if one of

Instagram advertising is deadly effective, with

2019’s colours were “robin’s egg blue”, the

Forrester stating that the “4.21 engagement

association might choose something like

rate makes Instagram the king of social

“light teal” in 2020. Similar, but obviously not

media” (Murphy, 2019). This is just more

the same. This prevents someone from

incentive to continue embedding

staying on trend without purchasing new

advertisements in more successful platforms,

clothing. The ICA is an incredibly effective

especially immaterial ones where it is low

method of encouraging conspicuous

cost.

consumption, which in the end is what most brands are attempting to do. Another heavy factor in why advertising

What is most interesting about all of this is that there is a flipside to these huge rates of consumption: there are a variety of

tends to affect consumerism trends is the

lifestyles that base themselves on the

increased use of social media platforms as

rejection of things, minimizing one’s

marketing. Youth especially are being

ecological footprint, and being more mindful

corralled into consuming new goods to stay

about consuming goods. The first example of

hip and envied by peers. This has been

this is the minimalism movement. Though

argued to be unethical, as often Instagram

mindful living has been around for a very long

“fail[s] to tell users that what they are looking

time, according to Edward Strickland, author

at is advertising”, which especially when

of Minimalism: Origins, its recent evolution

marketing to youth is a big deal and violates

“marks the transition of [the] twentieth century


39

[to an] implicit critique of mass culture...as but

release of material objects will lead to a

another commodity” (Strickland, 3). Modern

clearer headspace. But perhaps the most

minimalism showcases a lifestyle that is

interesting shift in minimalism is those who

elegant but simple, and often focused on

choose to live this way as a rejection of

having less material possessions. There are

consumer culture. By refusing to participate in

many reasons for this lifestyle, the most

the accelerated shelf life of goods, those who

prominent one being that people are

partake in this type of minimalism are

increasingly becoming aware of their carbon

essentially choosing not to follow the

footprint and the damage they are doing

capitalist culture that is so widely promoted in

through their personal consumption. People

North America. Especially popular with youth,

are choosing to become minimalists because

this form of minimalism has often been

they are making an effort to improve the

criticized as being for attention.

health of the planet in the future. This has

Similarly, the tiny house movement has

become an increasingly popular reason as of

caught fire with (no surprise here) the

late, with multiple climate emergency

younger generation. Having a smaller house

declarations bubbling on the news. Another

is becoming more appealing due to a wide

reason for the change of lifestyle is the idea

variety of factors (the cost of affordable

that a cluttered mind is the result of a

housing going up being a big one), but one

cluttered physical world. This can be seen in

can make the argument that it is another

the popular Netflix show “Tidying Up with

rejection of the traditional way of living

Marie Kondo”, where the Japanese

partaken by the baby boomer generation. As

organizing consultant emphasizes that the


40

a result of economic prosperity, youth who

environment, something which was never

saw their parents thrive with massive houses,

really a part of the conversation when

luxury cars and hoards of things might have

advertising became so influential on what

seen the culture as Veblen might have

people were buying.

unnecessary consumption. Therefore, when it came time to establish their own lives, they

But why are all of these movements being emphasized now? Yes, it might be

might have chosen to adopt a different

because of the current state of the Earth, with

lifestyle as a direct result of growing up in the

climate change causing huge issues for the

flurry of consumerism.

foreseeable future. But the hippie fad in the

The last example of a lifestyle that

1960s also rejected consumerism, as did the

rejects conspicuous consumption is the zero-

grunge phase of the 1980s. Perhaps these

waste movement. Aiming to reduce plastic

counter consumerism movements are simply

usage and only utilize things that are

another swing of the cultural pendulum. The

compostable or recyclable, it is an extreme

real question is, are these “opposite lifestyles”

version of the things children have always

of consumer culture rebounds? A direct result

been told to do: reuse, reduce, recycle. Zero

of the intense accumulation of things that has

waste living makes it painfully obvious that

been the norm for so long? Vox states it is “no

the current state of the Earth is in dire need of

coincidence that the popularity of the zero-

solving. And this is a commonality found in all

waste lifestyle happens to coincide

of the rejections of typical consumerism: each

with...climate change...the defining event of

one prioritizes having a lighter impact on the

this century” (Jennings, 2019). And


41

in the end this does have a big effect on

lifestyle adopted by a large number of youths,

peoples’ decisions to reject the contemporary

consumer culture might diminish substantially

capitalist model of buy, throw away, and buy

with the addition of new generations. Will the

some more. But what is potentially more

Earth last to see consumerism disappear?

important to consider is the effects of these

Unlikely. But with the planet caving in on an

lifestyles becoming so popularized and what

untimely climate crisis, it is extremely possible

it means for the future of society. Consumer

that these lifestyles will have to be adopted

culture is reliant on its consumers, after all.

out of necessity. The things that society has let

While it is unlikely that society will return to

control it, advertising being the main culprit,

the times of simply buying for necessity, the

may eventually fade into the background as

social climate of consumption will always be

humanity struggles with the impact of

based on its historical context. And in this era,

decades of conspicuous consumption.

with the environment becoming a major

Veblen might have been the first to mention

priority, along with the obvious change in

it, but he certainly did not predict this.


42

Works Cited

Bagwell, Laurie and Bernheim, Douglas (1996). “Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption”, The American Economic Review Vol. 86, No. 3 (Jun., 1996), pp. 349-373 Featherstone, Mike. Theory, Culture and Society (SAGE, London, Newbury Park, Beverly Hills and New Delhi), Vol. 4 (1987), 55-70 Flett, Alasdair. “Influencers of Instagram and Their Unethical Advertising.” The Student, 31 Jan. 2017 Ica. “International Color Alliance | ICA.” International Color Alliance | ICA, www.internationalcoloralliance.com/ “International Colour Authority.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Dec. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Colour_Authority. Jennings, Rebecca. “The Zero-Waste Movement Is Coming for Your Garbage.” Vox, Vox, 28 Jan. 2019, www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/1/28/zero-waste-plastic-pollution. Mason. “Conspicuous Consumption: A Study of Exceptional Consumer Behaviour.” University of Salford Institutional Repository, 1 Jan. 1980 Plotkin, Sidney. (2014) “Misdirected Effort: Thorstein Veblen’s Critique of Advertising”, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 6 Issue: 4, pp.501-522, https://doi.org/10.1108/JHRM-01-2014-0003 Schor, Juliet (2004). “Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture”, Simon and Schuster, New York, Scribner Strickland, Edward. “Minimalism--Origins.” Google Books, Google, books.google.ca/books


43

Dolls have been significant to girls

in the late 2000s by appealing to their desires

throughout history and often influence the

to do grown-up activities and maintain a

way they transition into adulthood. For

positive reputation. As the brand relaunched

example, Barbie figurines promote

from discontinuance in 2018, Polly Pocket

consumerism, Bratz dolls normalize

shifted their target audience to Generation

“edginess” as feminine, and Cabbage Patch

Alpha girls between age five and seven and

Kids allow girls to act out a maternal role

their Millennial parents. By accounting for

during play (Purac, “So Sexy So Soon”; Purac,

progressive family structures and updated

“From Elmo to Emo”). The values inscribed to

societal values, the brand now promotes self-

dolls are examples of KGOY, the concept of

actualization and education in their

kids getting older younger and maturing

advertising (Wallace, 2018).

quickly, as girls are encouraged to act like

The 2009 advertisement for the Polly

adults through these toys (Purac, “Mini-Me”).

Pocket Roller Coaster Resort specifically

The analysis of two Polly Pocket commercials

targets female Millennial tweens, those

highlights a significant, decadal shift in this

between the age of eight and twelve, by

marketing of KGOY. The toy line was

associating the ability to act and look more

originally advertised to Millennial tween girls

mature with maintaining a positive social


44

image, a known character trait of this cohort

Wonderland once above 48 inches in height

(Purac, “From Elmo to Emo”). A child’s

(Canada’s Wonderland, n.d.). Polly Pocket is

transition to tweenhood is often marked by

thus marketing directly to Millennial tween

doing things independently; Polly Pocket

girls because the product idealizes the

promotes KGOY in this way by hailing three

tween’s experiences surrounding this

specific activities as appropriate for tweens

benchmark. Being able to ride a full-sized

and framing Polly as a sexual, mature friend of

roller coaster is sure to boost a young girl’s

the consumer.

confidence because she will think she is

The ad’s visual emphasis on the

mature. While it seems trivial, this added layer

wraparound roller coaster track appeals to

of empowerment influences how their peers

female Millennial tweens because the toy

will view them. By creating a toy that

connects the cohort’s milestone of riding

embodies the changes these girls are

attractions alone for the first time with their

experiencing in reality, the viewer is more

desire for a positive reputation. While

likely to build a connection with the product.

children often have to go on full-sized roller

They will desire to play with the set as if they

coasters with an adult because they are not

are the subject gaining freedom and getting

tall enough, girls first ride by themselves

older younger, even if they may not be

when they become tweens typically. The

allowed to ride a roller coaster alone

average height of a 7-year-old female is 48

personally.

inches tall (CDC, 2000). As an example,

The jingle lyric “Meet your friends at

children can start to ride roller coasters

the pool” paired with a clip of dolls in bikinis

outside of the children’s zone at Canada’s

targets Millennial tweens by encouraging an


45

association between swimming without adult

The toy’s disco appeals to the

supervision and popularity. Children cannot

narcissistic tendencies of the female

go to a public pool alone, at least not without

Millennial tween, which influences their image

heavy restrictions. In Toronto, youth aged

as well. The dolls wear revealing clothes while

seven to nine must pass a facility test to swim

dancing in this scene of the ad; viewers also

without an adult (City of Toronto, n.d.). The

hear the lyrics “Now it’s night and the disco’s

city of Montreal recently raised the minimum

way cool” (YouTube, “Polly Pocket Roller

age for children to swim alone in pools to

Coaster Resort Playset Commercial (2009)”).

eight from six as well (CBC News, 2018).

This environment is hypersexualized but is

Swimming without a guardian is a risk of

marketed by Mattel less confrontationally by

personal safety; if a tween is able to swim with

recognizing that tweens are at the stage of

just friends, their social image will be

their lives when they start attending school

strengthened because they seem to have

dances. This social experience can be

more freedom and appear confident in their

intimidating, but Polly Pocket gives the

physical abilities. The consumer viewing this

Millennial tween girl confidence by letting

ad translates these ideas to the product itself.

them role play this event through a toy,

Millennial female tween viewers believe that

encouraging them to grow up faster. The

their reputation will be bolstered from having

cohort is likely to want this product to feel

a toy like this one because they will engage

desired and attractive; these thoughts are

with it as if they can swim alone without adult

then translated to real-life action and the way

supervision, unconsciously carrying out these

others perceive them. The advertisers employ

ideas to build confidence and mature quickly.

cool hunting here, a tactic dubbed by Naomi


46

Klein whereby brands follow what is already

be consumed and this resonates well with the

trending rather than inventing something new

Millennial tween who values their social

by commercializing the disco experience and

status. Consumers are encouraged to dress

playing to a tween’s insecurities (Purac, “From

older and younger to become more well-liked

Elmo to Emo”).

despite the dangerous stereotypes about

Polly Pocket’s clothing in this ad is chosen strategically; the marketing of her

femininity being reinforced. With that said, Polly Pocket is framed as

character as promiscuous encourages the

the consumer’s mature friend. This is an

female Millennial tween to sexualize

effective strategy because the female

themselves to receive affirmation from others.

Millennial tween couples the brand with

Polly Pocket’s one-strap dress and high

having freedom and improving their

ponytail at the start of the ad draw attention

reputation subsequently. Before the ad starts,

to her shoulders and legs, highly sexualized

two tweens resting on lounge chairs tell an

areas of the female body. When the logo

animated Polly Pocket they “need some

appears at the end, Polly snaps her fingers

excitement”, to which Polly is their enactor of

and switches outfits (YouTube, “Polly Pocket

change. She directly addresses the girls (and

Roller Coaster Resort Playset Commercial

the viewer subconsciously) by saying she “can

(2009)”). This visual change highlights a move

do that”, then plans the aforementioned

from dressing conservatively to showing off

activities (YouTube, “Polly Pocket Roller

her body in a revealing, scandalous way. Polly

Coaster Resort Playset Commercial (2009)”).

Pocket toys in the 2000s were created for

When Polly hangs out with the two girls in doll

entertainment and leisure; Polly is meant to

form, she is realized as the cool friend who


47

allows tweens to do adult-like activities

nostalgic relationship with Polly Pocket to

without parent supervision by the consumer

strengthen brand loyalty.

in reality. Somatic markers are established

Generation Alpha is characterized by a

here because the viewer associates the toy

diversity of familial relations. Higher

line with enhancing their social image if they

percentages of this generation are “spending

were to act like Polly Pocket (Purac, “From

at least part of their early formative years in

Elmo to Emo”). The consumer aspires to

living arrangements that do not include both

become more mature at a younger age to be

of their biological parents” and have to be on-

a real-life Polly for their friends and maintain

the-go more often (Bologna, 2019). Polly

popularity.

Pocket thus advertises the Compact to cater

The 2019 “World of Compacts”

to this lifestyle while providing children with

advertisement for Polly Pocket embodies a

an opportunity to combine play with other

shift in both the brand’s products and

areas of their lives. Unlike toys of the past

advertising strategies used. The ad targets

where playsets were immobile and required

Generation Alpha girls between age five and

extensive set-up by a parent or guardian,

seven and their Millennial parents by

Compacts can be closed with a latch and

representing 21 -century family dynamics and

transported; the dolls and accessories all fit in

progressive social values. It can be

their related environment (Mattel, “Polly

interpreted within the lens of KGOY as

Pocket™ Roller Coaster Resort Playset”). For

Generation Alpha girls are given more agency

children moving back and forth between their

and encouraged to plan their futures. Beyond

divorced parents’ homes or staying with

this, the ad plays on the Millennial parents’

extended family, it is easy for them to play

st


48

with their Polly Pockets. The promotion of this

create different narratives (Purac, “So Sexy So

feature gives agency to the child and

Soon). Polly Pocket is simply a part of the

encourages them to develop quickly because

advertising strategy to play on existing brand

they can bring the realm of play into all parts

loyalty and a nostalgic relationship with

of their life, no matter how complex their

Millennial parents. This provides significant

family situation may be.

agency to the Generation Alpha girl who will

Consequently, Polly Pocket is a positive enactor of play in this advertisement rather than a promoter of change as a ‘friend’ of the

play with Compacts as if they are more mature. The ad uses a specific rhetoric around

female Millennial tween in the previous

size to connect with Generation Alpha girls

decade. This framing is attractive to the

directly. The tagline “Tiny is mighty” builds

Millennial parents of Generation Alpha

confidence and empowers this cohort to take

because the toys allow girls to achieve more

charge of their lives. Being small as a female

through play beyond leisure and

is often associated with fragility and a lack of

entertainment. There is less emphasis on Polly

power. Girls internalize this message when

as a character; girls are encouraged to

they are young and are likely to behave based

become whomever they want to be through

on this; Generation Alpha accepts this

the ad. She is not a friend of the child

information as truth given that they continue

consumer per se; given that these dolls are

to “grow up in a culture of fear” (Purac,

smaller than Polly Pocket toys from past

“Cradles and Consumers”). When girls of this

generations, Generation Alpha takes on a

cohort hear the ad’s inspiring message

maternal role with these new baby dolls to

contrary to patriarchal values, they will feel


49

encouraged. As a result, they are more likely

Most importantly, this ad highlights

to want a Polly Pocket Compact to carry out

how Polly Pocket has shifted from producing

these ideals in their everyday lives. This

sexualized entertainment toys to educational

tagline is thus used to give girls more

dolls that promote self-understanding; the

responsibility in the ways they play with toys.

newer products satisfy the desires of

The aforementioned slogan asserts the

Millennial parents. As mentioned, these Polly

brand’s values to better connect with the

Pockets are baby dolls rather than fashion

parents of Generation Alpha as well.

dolls due to their size, but also because

Millennial guardians have an interest in social

consumers cannot change their outfits (Purac,

justice incomparable to previous cohorts.

“So Sexy So Soon”; Mattel, n.d.). There is less

They are more inclined to support companies

focus on how the dolls look and more on what

that desire to make global change when

they do and how they act. “Adventures in all”

shopping for their kids (Economy, 2019). This

is a repeated phrase throughout this

tagline establishes somatic markers in the

promotion for the Mini Middle School

mind of the Millennial adult consumer; they

Compact. Although the two female actresses

will associate Polly Pocket with influencing

are at an elementary school age, the ad subtly

greater social structures, which is a significant

argues that they will be more mature after

ploy to persuade this generation (Purac,

playing with the set’s gymnastics bars,

“From Elmo to Emo”). The discourse around

scooter, skateboard, pool, and classroom

size overall addresses these cohorts as a dual

(YouTube, “Polly Pocket 2019 World of

target effectively (Purac, “Buyers and Babies”).

Compacts Commercial”).


50

Generation Alpha girls are able to

adult-like activities but shifted their

build on existing skills, explore new interests,

advertising strategies after its initial

and plan out their lives after playing with

discontinuance to promote self-actualization

these dolls to fast track their childhoods. This

and education to Generation Alpha girls and

appeals to Millennial parents because they

their Millennials parents given a variety of

aim to break down social barriers for their

family dynamics and open-minded values

children (Economy, 2019). By unconsciously

among these cohorts. Polly Pocket toys have

promoting the toy as educational, the brand

continued to evolve along the same

regains the trust of Millennial guardians who

continuum; other Compacts produced by

associate Polly Pocket with harmful narratives

Mattel since the 2019 ad include the Dino

about femininity and social status. These

Discovery™ and Saturn Space Explorer™ sets

parents are encouraged to buy the product

that encourage girls to develop interests in

for their daughters because the brand will

STEM (Mattel, n.d.; Purac, “Are the Kids

have benefits on their lives beyond the realm

Alright?”). As younger cohorts develop into

of play while granting them agency as

parenthood, consumers must continue to

powerful young females.

scrutinize brands, as this paper has done with

Polly Pocket’s marketing of KGOY has

Polly Pocket, to ensure that toys are produced

changed significantly from the 2000s to the

for the benefits of their kids. It is only then that

2010s. The brand initially marketed to female

adults can protect the integrity of toys during

Millennial tweens by capitalizing on their

childhood.

desire for popularity in correspondence with


51

Works Cited

Bologna, Caroline. “What’s the Deal with Generation Alpha?” Huffington Post, 8 Nov. 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/generation-alpha-after-genz_l_5d420ef4e4b0aca341181574. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. “2 to 20 years: Girls; Stature-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles”. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 30 May 2000. https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/data/set1clinical/cj41l022.pdf. Accessed 4 December 2020. “City pools – wristband – admittance policy – safety & supervision.” City of Toronto, n.d. https://www.toronto.ca/311/knowledgebase/kb/docs/articles/parks,-forestry-andrecreation/community-recreation/city-pools-wristband-admittance-policy-safety-andsupervision.html. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020. “Cool Products: Polly Pocket.” Mattel, n.d. https://play.mattel.com/polly-pocket/en-us/products. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020. Economy, Peter. “A New Study of 150,000 Millennials Reveals They Have 10 Surprising Things in Common.” Inc., 27 Jul. 2019. https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/a-new-study-of-150000millennials-revealed-that-they-have-these-10-surprising-things-in-common.html. Accessed 7 Dec 2020. “Minimum age for children to swim alone in public pools raised from 6 to 8”. CBC News, 23 Jul. 2018. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/minimum-age-for-children-to-use-poolsmontreal-1.4757248 “Polly Pocket™ Roller Coaster Resort Playset”. Mattel, n.d. https://service.mattel.com/us/productDetail.aspx?prodno=P5047&siteid=27. Accessed 7 Dec. 2020. “Polly Pocket Roller Coaster Resort Playset Commercial (2009)”. YouTube, uploaded by Commercials & TV From the Past, 28 Jul. 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bw4YpVuNwU

“Polly Pocket 2019 World of Compacts Commercial”. YouTube, uploaded by Mattel, 31 Jul. 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzeOuwJ3hgA


52

Purac, Selma. “Are the Kids Alright?”. MIT 3207: Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture, 15 Sept. 2020, Western University, London, ON. Lecture. Purac, Selma. “Buyers and Babies: Psychology and Advertising”. MIT 3207: Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture, 22 Sept. 2020, Western University, London, ON. Lecture. Purac, Selma. “Cradles and Consumers: Rethinking Childhood.” MIT 3207: Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture, 29 Sept. 2020, Western University, London, ON. Lecture. Purac, Selma. “From Elmo to Emo: The Terrible Tweens”. MIT 3207: Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture, 20 Oct. 2020, Western University, London, ON. Lecture. Purac, Selma. “Mini-Me: Branding Our Babies”. MIT 3207: Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture, 13 Oct. 2020, Western University, London, ON. Lecture. Purac, Selma. “So Sexy So Soon: Selling Sex to Children”. MIT 3207: Children, Advertising, & Consumer Culture, 17 Nov. 2020, Western University, London, ON. Lecture. “Rider Height and Safety Guide”. Canada’s Wonderland, n.d. https://www.canadaswonderland.com/help/rider-height-safety/. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020. Wallace, Mitch. “What Mattel’s ‘Polly Pocket’ Relaunch Could Mean For A ‘Mighty Max’ Revival.” Forbes, 21 Feb. 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mitchwallace/2018/02/21/what-mattels-polly-pocketrelaunch-could-mean-for-a-mighty-max-revival/?sh=118fe76c6fb3. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.


53

Political activist Huey Newton once

conception of ‘race’ was produced by those in

said, “[America] became very rich upon

power to protect the status quo, which is a

slavery and slavery is capitalism in the

system that fundamentally benefits the ruling

extreme. We have two evils to fight,

class and exploits the working class, and that

capitalism and racism” (Haider 21). Class and

the only way to overcome the inequalities and

race have been systemically connected

injustices of the capitalist system is through

throughout history. As capitalism inherently

strong, cross-racial, radical, and collaborative

benefits one group through the exploitation

action.

of another, throughout history the concept of

Race itself is a social construct, which

‘race’ has been used to separate society into

allows for racism to exist within the context of

two groups, the superiors and the inferior

economic exploitation. The social construct of

others, to further economic exploitation.

‘race’ was created by the ruling class as a form

Racism then, is a management technique

of social control, and as a way to justify

employed by the ruling class to reinforce

economic exploitation. Before the 1700’s,

separation and prevent a collective working-

race as a concept did not exist - it was not

class revolution against inequality (Steele

until after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, when

2020). This paper will argue that the abstract

black and white indentured servants formed


54

an alliance and rioted against the colonial

working class solidarity, by telling one group

ruling class, that the societal elite invented

of people they are intrinsically superior to the

race, and more specifically white supremacy,

other.

as a form of social control (Haider 53). This

This demonstrates the concept of race

was done to prevent the possibility of another

only exists to allow for racism and the

mass working-class alliance, which was the

justification of exploitation. Throughout

biggest threat to both the elites and the

history, there have been many examples of

economic system. The concept of ‘race’

‘white’ people being exploited, dehumanized,

allowed the European settlers to perpetuate

and thought of as ‘inferior’ to the ruling class.

the ideology of African inferiority in order to

For example, the Irish were racially oppressed

rationalize their enslavement, and in doing so

by the English centuries before Africans were,

had to integrate all European populations

implying that racism is not attached to a

into the category of whiteness (Haider 55).

concept of the white race (Haider 51).

Indeed, the logic of race is clearly explained

Integrating the Irish along with the rest of the

by John C. Calhoun, a former US Vice

European population into the ‘white’

President and slave owner: “The great two

category, meant “previous racial categories

divisions of society are not the rich and the

were abolished as a means of fortifying and

poor, but white and black. All the former, the

intensifying the exploitation of black laborers”

poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper

(Haider 56). Thus, ideas of superiority do not

class, and are respected and treated as equal”

depend on skin colour; instead, they are

(Steele 2020). This quote clearly shows that

perpetuated within the working class to

the very nature of racism is to prevent

protect and reinforce capitalist rule.


55

While slavery no longer exists today in

It has become a racialized, broad, and

America, capitalism and racism still do, and

unspecific term, used by politicians and

they rely heavily on the exploitation of the

capitalist elites to appeal to the masses.

interracial working class. Today, there is much

Politicians such as Donald Trump, Joe Biden,

confusion surrounding the concept of ‘class.’

and Kamala Harris all talk about saving the

It has been transformed into the marker of an

‘middle class’ to appeal to the white

individual's intrinsic morality and

professional wealthy class, but talk far less

consumption habits, instead of one’s political

about economic and tax reforms, alleviating

and economic position (Steele 2020).

poverty, wealth distribution, or increasing

Working people moved away from the

welfare. Instead, they use this filler phrase to

identification of ‘working class,’ as it began to

appear as though they are fighting for the

signify moral failing, poverty due to laziness,

rights of the people, when in reality they are

and lack of sophistication, and adopted the

evading the root of the problem which lies in

meaningless ‘middle class’ label (Steele

many of the inequities and injustices of a

2020). ‘Middle class’ is a tricky term, as there

capitalist system. After all, why would

is little consensus of what it actually means. It

politicians who benefit from this system want

is an idea centred on the ‘nuclear family’ and

to challenge the very system that redistributes

the ‘American dream,’ ideologically

wealth upwards to them?

representing the successful white family “with

Instead, they evoke a sense of

the white male breadwinner at its head,” and

populism by placing most Americans as

as such perpetuates racist ideas and ideals

‘middle class.’ As Nima Shirazi and Adam

(Haider 27).

Johnson discuss in their podcast, Citations


56

Needed, 77% of Americans consider

dissent and revolution. In reality, class is the

themselves middle class (2019). In reality,

only tool by which people can recognize the

there is no ‘middle class’ - the world is divided

solidarity needed to improve the lives of the

into those who depend on a wage to survive

working class. The social construct of race

(the 90%), and those who don’t as other

stands in the way of that, by making workers

people work for them (the 10%). However,

think they have more in common with

even those who make low wages identify

members of their own ‘race,’ not those in the

more with the owners of the means of

same class, and as such perpetuates the

production than with others facing the same

belief that there can be no common interests

economic hardships, reinforcing the strict

between the two. “As long as racial solidarity

divide among the working class (Shirazi and

among whites is more powerful than class

Johnson 2019).

solidarity across races, both capitalism and

Prosperity of the ruling class depends

whiteness will continue to exist” (Haider 50).

on the exploitation, unjust, and even criminal

This confusion and manipulation from

treatment of the working class, such as cutting

the capitalist elites has led to anti-racism

their wages, extending their hours of work,

movements and economic reform

and providing them with virtually no benefits.

movements, however the two remain

As such, it is in their best interests to further

separated as distinct and unrelated

the divide between the working class through

ambitions. Indeed, ‘antiracism’ today actually

racism by making the working class think their

furthers inequality. The antiracist movement

differences are more important than their

often focuses on white people being silent to

common interests, in order to suppress

allow people of colour to speak and giving up


57

their privilege so victims of racism can have

(Steele 2020). As Asad Haider says, “separatist

more (Steele 2020). However, ‘white privilege’

ideology prevents the construction of unity

is a social construct - white people do not

among the marginalized, the kind of unity that

have ‘privileges,’ they have their basic and

could overcome marginalization” (39). The

fundamental rights upheld and protected by

way identity politics is practiced today creates

the state, while many others do not. Instead of

a narrative of ‘black people and white allies’

reinforcing the narrative that white people are

fighting against racism. To eradicate

inherently racist and should give up what they

inequality, the working class must become

have to further the advancement of the

“comrades, not allies; combat racism, not reify

oppressed, society needs to focus on

race” (Steele 2020). All working-class people,

ameliorating inequality and upholding the

not just black people and their white allies,

human rights of all people. Understanding

need to come together to demand social

the class divide helps all people recognize it

rights - wealth redistribution, higher wages,

is in their best interest to be anti-racist - in

access to better jobs and housing, increased

order to overcome racism, the working class

access to health and childcare, and more, to

must work in tandem to address the systemic

improve the quality of life for all.

inequality and injustice of the capitalist system (Steele 2020). Racialized people cannot overcome

And thus, as Haider says, “I fight for my own liberation precisely because I fight for that of the stranger” (98). This quotation

racism by themselves - they need the power

exemplifies the goal of global equality and

of the numbers of the entire working class to

freedom, the fight against the inequities of

demand the changes necessary to eradicate it

the capitalist system, and the eradication of


58

racism or the politics of the ‘other,’ that can

achieved through cross-racial revolution, one

only be done through the collective

in which the working class puts aside their

mobilisation of the entire working class. We

differences and works together for the

need to build a system and economy that

freedom and rights of all.

rewards work, not wealth, and this can only be


59

Works Cited Haider, Asad. Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. London, Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2018. Shirazi, Nima, and Johnson, Adam. “Episode 91: It’s Time to Retire the Term ‘Middle Class’.” from Citations Needed, 23 October 2019, https://citationsneeded.libsyn.com/episode-91-itstime-to-retire-the-term-middle-class. Steele, Warren. “Lecture 5: Class.” University of Western Ontario, October 9 2020, London, Lecture.


60

In

1968,

Philip

Morris

Tobacco

decades. This paper further aims to place the

Company founded the Virginia Slims brand,

advertisements in the context of social and

the first cigarettes designed specifically for

cultural values, ideals, and changes occurring

women.i The ‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’

at the time. I will be investigating women and

campaign was designed by a group of fifteen

smoking’s portrayal in the advertisements and

men from the Leo Burnett agency.ii The

the explicit and implicit messages that their

campaign sought to capitalize on the women’s

representations send.

liberation movement and build an aspirational

(PSEUDO)FEMINISM

female image to which women could relate

Virginia Slims intentionally emerged

and look up.iii This paper examines twenty

during second-wave feminism’s peak, while

Virginia Slims cigarette advertisements from

tobacco companies were trying to determine

1970 to 1991 targeting women in America,

how to reach the untapped female market to

and explores the manipulative strategies used

generate more profit.iv By the 1960s, they

in the advertisements to attract and exploit

were not permitted to make explicit health

women. The emphasis will be on informational

claims and thus resorted to image advertising

content, appeals, changes, and consistencies

to distract from health concerns.v Philip Morris

observed in the advertisements over the two

proved exceptionally good at that, giving


61

Virginia Slims a fun, cheerful brand

surface-level feminism, performatively touting

personality, using aspirational feminist images

smoking and fashion as the “triumphs of

that coincided with the fluctuating values and

modern feminism” and failing to recognize

social issues at the time.vi The campaign

women’s professional achievements.xiv

targeted modern young women under thirtyfivevii with dreams beyond motherhood.viii

ADVERTISEMENT ANALYSIS

They capitalized on the women’s liberation

ADVERTISING APPEALS

movement, and successfully reached the

The ‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’

women’s market by sensationally selling

campaign usually used either emotional or

cigarettes as symbolic of freedom,

humorous appeals, sometimes combining the

emancipation,ix and rebellion against the

two. The humor from the seventies until the

patriarchy.x Virginia Slims’ creators, an

late eighties was subtler, usually in the copy

exclusively male team,xi undoubtedly

and the antique vignettes, while the models in

exploited women and reduced the narrative

the foreground served more aspirational

to fashion and smoking being the culmination

functions. It was not until 1990 when they

of women’s progression.xii Their

began to poke fun at traditional social and

condescending, longstanding slogan implied

economic roles,xv employing carefree, sassy

that all the important changes had already

copy where women fearlessly expressed their

been madexiii since women could now smoke

values, such as in the eighteenth and

publicly and shamelessly. While they claimed

nineteenth advertisements.

to assert feminism and empowerment, they essentially expressed pseudo-feminism or

In terms of emotional appeals, women were

supposed

to

connect

with

the


62

aspirational

images,

making

them

feel

women laugh while simultaneously causing

empowered and motivated to pick up Virginia

them to get angry at women’s oppression,

Slims cigarettes and thus become liberated

and to be thankful and proud of how far they

women. The visual comparisons of suffragette

have come.

women

to

modern

women

in

their

advertisements as well as their enduring slogan’s purposes seem to be to instill pride in women; just as the eighth advertisement declares, women can now smoke in public, and smoke slim cigarettes specifically tailored for them. They could also have served the

Figure 1. Ad 8 (1997). WOMEN AND SMOKING’S PORTRAYAL

function of making women feel young, happy,

From their inception in 1968 until 1984,

healthy, and beautiful, generally associating

the Virginia Slims campaign advertisements

positive feelings with their brand.

remained relatively consistent in terms of

Moreover, these appeals could also have

appearance,

masked health concerns by distracting

formulas

consumers with humor, emotion, and

occasional minor tweaks. As evinced by the

aesthetically pleasing imagery, as opposed to

advertisements beginning in 1970, the usual

using fear copy and imagery to coerce them

format contained muted, neutral backgrounds

into buying products. The eighth

with a slim woman in the foreground, and the

advertisement combines humor and

important text in bold, with anecdotes or less

emotional appeals, as it is intended to make

important text in smaller font. Their traditional

in

generally their

using

the

advertisements

same with


63

imagery and most commonly used tactic was to

juxtapose

late

nineteenth

and

early

twentieth century women with late twentieth century

‘modern’

women,

as

shown

in

advertisements one, five through seven, nine, eleven,

fourteen

through

sixteen,

and

eighteen. These sepia images of previously oppressed

women,

longstanding

along

slogan,

with

their

attempted

to

demonstrate modernity, women’s newfound freedom, and how their lives changed for the better.xvi The suffragette women were shown in quirky and humorous yet unappealing scenarios,

many

of

them

involving

the

distasteful perception of women and smoking at the time. For instance, the ninth and eleventh

advertisements

contrast

women

furtively sneaking cigarettes with liberated modern women who can now proudly flaunt their smoking habit, thus demonstrating how far women have come and further equating smoking with emancipation.

Figure 2. Ads 9 (1978) and 11 (1980). The advertisements change gradually from 1980 onwards, with livelier colors, bolder clothing, and more fluid poses. A more noticeable shift is observable in 1990, when Virginia Slims revamped and modernized their previous layout. By this time, the brand’s feminist image no longer interested younger eighteen- to twenty-four-year-old women, who regarded women’s liberation and feminist ideals as outmoded.xvii The ‘new female smoker’xviii valued money and a well-paying


64

job,

feared

commitment,

marriage,

and

children, and disassociated herself with social

Woman Thing’ to further appeal to modern apolitical women.xxi

activism and political statements.xix Between 1985 and 1988, their market share among women aged eighteen to twenty-four dropped from 11.1 to 9.3 percent.xx Acknowledging this, Virginia Slims shifted their advertising style in the nineties, gravitating toward even brighter colors and sassy, humorous copy that

Figure 3. Ads 19 (1990) and 20 (1991). Women

in

Virginia

Slims’

appealed to contemporary younger women’s

advertisements were consistently portrayed as

ideals. This shift is visible in the last four

lively, fashion-forward, independent women.

advertisements in the appendix, with the last

They were seemingly ordinary women, with

two especially emphasizing money’s value and

none of the advertisements utilizing celebrity

the future move toward less blatantly feminist

endorsements.

messaging. The nineteenth advertisement

beautiful, young, and slim, all tied to their

uses humorous appeals yet brushes off

identities

feminism,

‘fashionistas’.xxii This relates back to the

demonstrating

modern

young

as

However,

cigarette

they

were

consumers

all

and

for

pseudo-feminism theme, which is constant

money. By the mid-nineties, Virginia Slims

throughout the two decades. As shown in the

would change their longstanding slogan

twenty advertisements, the modern woman

‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’ to ‘It’s A

does not fight for anything, as that has already

women’s

independence

and

affinity

been done for her. Now she can relax with a


65

cigarette and focus on fashion. This is heavily

humorous anecdotes to avoid mentioning

insinuated in all twenty advertisements but is

racial injustice and discrimination. One of the

especially evident in the first, wherein women’s

campaign’s executives claimed that they

rights activism is simplified to avoid deeper

wanted the advertisements to come off as

issues and is reduced to fighting for fashion

cigarette advertisements, not “civil rights

and smoking rights, which is what all Virginia

message[s]”.xxiii

Slims models seem to prioritize.

supposed to present a lighthearted account of

The

advertisements

were

women’s liberation, but not delve too deep into historical injustices. They were simply supposed

to

demonstrate

contemporary

happiness to draw women in, and to show how much freer and more content women were Figure 4. Ad 1 (1970). Virginia

Slims

avoided

being

now

that

their

social

conditions

had

too

improved.xxiv The campaign’s issues with

‘political’ about feminism’s historical and

surface-level equality promotion and shallow

political significance, even sidestepping larger

portrayal of women could lie in the fact that

issues like racial equality; the Black models

they were fashioned by an exclusively male

were nothing more than occasionally used

group who were simply looking to expand the

props to add inclusivity and diversity to the

cigarette

brand’s image and entice more female

consumers, as opposed to striving to make

consumers. In fact, they intentionally omitted

meaningful change.xxv

them from the photographs shown in the

market

by

‘recruiting’

women


66

Women

in

Virginia

Slims

Many of the ‘plainer’ advertisements,

advertisements were meant to be regarded as

such as the third and tenth advertisements, do

powerful and independent. They pictured

just that; formatted with minimal copy and

bold, carefree women rather than cosmetic

direct attention on the model and her clothes,

appeals or flowery femininity that no longer

the viewer or consumer links smoking and the

aligned with women’s ideals in the 1970s to

slogan to being fashionable, attractive, and in

1990s.xxvi They remained feminine, with their

control. Virginia Slims ultimately sold the ideal

extravagant outfits and sensuality, but were

female along with cigarettes, reducing their

not fragile – they were pseudo-liberated.xxvii

advertisements to superficiality, frivolousness,

This, among many other things like the

and simulated activism. Unlike critics, most

product packaging and slimness, is what

consumers did not recognize the surface-level

initially drew women to Virginia Slims. While

feminism and superficiality.xxx

they were more outgoing and explorative than old advertisements from previous decades that emphasized domesticity,xxviii the models were still portrayed as static, one-dimensional beings with two central traits: smoking and stylishness.

Figure 5. Ads 3 (1970) and 10 (1979).

These fashion-centric advertisements

Smoking was similarly portrayed as

were reductionist, lowering women to the

desirable, slimming, and empowering in

stereotype that only appearance matters.xxix

various ways. Throughout the twenty years, the models were consistently dressed in stylish


67

outfits, donning big smiles, good health, and

Advertisements

attitudes that exuded pure confidence, all

explicitly comment on the cigarettes’ physical

while holding Virginia Slims cigarettes.xxxi

characteristics. Others do it implicitly with their

There are many dimensions to Virginia Slims’

constant use of thin, youthful models that

name: it refers to the cigarettes’ physical

epitomize health, a constancy that never varies

thinness, slyly implies that their cigarettes are

throughout the two decades. The thirteenth

healthier than ‘fat’ cigarettes, and connotes

advertisement

late twentieth century beauty and weight

connotations. The model is slender and

ideals.xxxii Three separate elements can be

conventionally attractive, displayed as an

connected to and associated with smoking as

aspirational figure in terms of beauty and

an activity that emerge from the name’s

weight. Additionally, the copy states that the

numerous interpretations and connotations:

cigarettes are slimmer than men’s, discreetly

health, ideal beauty in terms of fashion or

suggesting to consumers that they are

physical appearance, and independence or

healthier due to their lightness, even though

empowerment.xxxiii

that is not the case.xxxv The models’ ideal

SMOKING AND HEALTH

physique can also imply that their ‘healthy’,

The brand never overtly made weight control claims, instead inferring it through their use of long-limbed, skinny models that

four,

nine,

possesses

and

all

thirteen

three

slim figures are attainable by smoking Virginia Slims. Another

way

that

the

company

reflected late twentieth century beauty ideals

demonstrated health in their advertisements

and

physical

and associated it with their cigarettes was by

slim.xxxiv

using active-looking models, such as in the fifth

matched

characteristics;

their long

cigarettes’ and


68

and twelfth advertisements. These models’

look like the models to maintain beautiful slim

sporty appearances implicitly push a ‘health

figures.xxxvi

angle’, perhaps to mitigate health concerns.

Figure 7. Ads 5 (1974) and 12 (1980).

SMOKING AND BEAUTY ‘Beauty’ here means both physical appearance and stylishness, both of which Virginia Slims models possessed. As Figure 6. Ads 4 (1973), 9 (1978), and 13

previously explained, all of their models’

(1984)

appearances coincided with the beauty

They might show women that smoking does

standards of the time.xxxvii Throughout the

not affect physical fitness, and that it is possible

twenty years, their figures never changed.

to be healthy and smoke. Overall, Virginia

They remained skinny, with most of them

Slims advertisements subliminally maintain

being white women, though there was the

that they are healthier than other cigarettes,

occasional Black woman or woman of color.

and that they can help women who wish to

The models were always dressed in the latest fashions,xxxviii their modern, glamorous, and


69

extravagant clothes contrasted against the

independent modern women who had since

drab tatters women wore in the anecdotal

earned the right to smoke with previously

images. Their identities were completely

oppressed women. The second advertisement

centered on their fashionable

is

appearances.xxxix Once again, this implies an

comparing women who smoke Virginia Slims

association between smoking Virginia Slims

to superheroes that are biologically superior to

and beauty, but also defines modern women

men. The last advertisement, too, can come

of the 1970s to 1990s through their

across as inspiring. The vignette references the

consumption of cigarettes and clothing.xl Not

fact that women could not have separate bank

surprisingly, the advertisements presented

accounts from their husbands back in 1957.

“fashion as the culmination of feminist

The woman in the advertisement appears to

change”.xli

be a successful, affluent businesswoman with

SMOKING AND INDEPENDENCE

her own bank account and enough leftover

The ‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’

incredibly

aspirational

and

inspiring,

money to purchase as many cigarettes as she

campaign, while condescendingly calling

pleases.

women ‘baby’, exploited previous notions of

evidently imply that smoking their cigarettes is

the cigarette as a representation of women

empowering, as they are specifically tailored

defying

for women and women have progressed far

longstanding

traditional

social

norms.xlii As demonstrated in the vignettes, women smoking had historically been cast as repugnant.xliii Virginia Slims made use of this dated

perspective

and

juxtaposed

Virginia

Slims

enough to deserve a smoke.xliv

advertisements


70

rights movement and using tactics such as equating smoking with emancipation, fashion, youth, feminist values, and modernity. They

succeeded in breaking into the female market, Figure 8. Ads 2 (1971) and 20 (1991).

increasing female smokers from forty-five to forty-eight percent in 1979.xlv The ‘You’ve

CONCLUSION

Come

A

Long

Way,

Baby’

campaign

This paper examined twenty Virginia

fundamentally comes across as performative

Slims advertisements from 1970 to 1991

and greedy, yet undoubtedly empowered

targeting American women, and explored the

women by giving them aspirational images for

manipulative

the

which to aim and were influential in creating a

advertisements to attract and exploit women.

blueprint for the tobacco industry, whereafter

Philip Morris was ultimately able to attract their

the explosion of women’s brands ensued.xlvi

strategies

used

in

consumers by capitalizing off of the women’s


71

Appendix Number Advertisement/Thumbnail 1

Ad Title/Campaign You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

Date 1970

2

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1971

3

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1972

4

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1973

5

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1974

6

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1975

7

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1976

8

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1977

9

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1978

10

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1979


72

11

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1980

12

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1980

13

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1984

14

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1985

15

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1986

16

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1987

17

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1990

18

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1990

19

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1990


73

20

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

1991


74

Works Cited Amos, Amanda, and Margaretha Haglund. “From Social Taboo to ‘Torch of Freedom’: The Marketing of Cigarettes to Women.” Tobacco Control 9, no. 1 (2000): 3-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.9.1.3. Boyd, Carol J., Thomas C. Boyd, and Jennifer L. Cash. “Why Is Virginia Slim? Women and Cigarette Advertising.” Women and Language 25, no. 1 (2002): 19-31. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A100500984/AONE?u=lond95336&sid=AONE&xid=644 f72db. Boyd, Thomas C., Carol J. Boyd, and Timothy B. Greenlee. “A Means to an End: Slim Hopes and Cigarette Advertising.” Health Promotion Practice 4, no. 3 (2003): 266277. https://doi-org.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/10.1177/1524839903004003011. “Chapter 4: Factors Influencing Tobacco Use Among Women.” In Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General, 453-546. Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2001. Craig, Steve. “‘Torches of Freedom’: Themes of Women’s Liberation in American Cigarette Advertising.” (1999): 1-18. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steve_Craig3/publication/228934885_Torches_of_F reedom_Themes_of_Women's_Liberation_in_American_Cigarette_Advertising_A_Pape r_Presented_to_the_Gender_Studies_Division_SouthwestTexas/links/571a185b08ae986b 8b7c430f.pdf. Dewhirst, Timothy, Wonkyong B. Lee, Geoffrey T. Fong, and Pamela M. Ling. “Exporting An Inherently Harmful Product: The Marketing of Virginia Slims Cigarettes in the United States, Japan, and Korea.” Journal of Business Ethics 139, no. 1 (2016): 161-181. https://doi-org.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/10.1007/s10551-015-2648-7. Jakobson, Cathryn. “Why They Stretched the Slims.” New York Times, June 8, 1986. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/08/magazine/why-they-stretched-the-slims.html. O’Keefe, Anne M., and Richard W. Pollay. “Deadly Targeting of Women in Promoting Cigarettes.” Journal of the American Medical Womens Association 51, no. 1-2 (1996): 6769. http://www.columbia.akadns.net/itc/hs/pubhealth/p9740/readings/okeefe.pdf. Polk, Maggie. “Philip Morris: How Virginia Slims Targeted Women to Sell Cigarettes.” Medium, October 24, 2018. https://medium.com/@maggiepolk/philip-morris-howvirginia-slims-targeted-women-to-sell-cigarettes-e4bcf8271d2. Shirk, Adrian. “The Death of the Cool Feminist Smoker.” The Atlantic, January 30, 2014. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/the-death-of-the-cool-feministsmoker/283273/. Toll, Benjamin A., and P. M. Ling. “The Virginia Slims Identity Crisis: An Inside Look at Tobacco Industry Marketing to Women.” Tobacco Control 14, no. 3 (2005): 172-180. https://tobaccocontrol-bmj-com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/content/14/3/172. Westkaemper, Emily. Selling Women’s History: Packaging Feminism in Twentieth-Century American Popular Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2017.


75 End Notes 1 Benjamin A. Toll and P. M. Ling, “The Virginia Slims Identity Crisis,” Tobacco Control 14, no. 3 (2005): 172, https://tobaccocontrol-bmjcom.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/content/14/3/172. 1 Carol J. Boyd, Thomas C. Boyd, and Jennifer L. Cash, “Why Is Virginia Slim? Women and Cigarette Advertising,” Women and Language 25, no. 1 (2002): 26, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A100500984/AONE?u=lond95336&sid=AONE&xid=644f72db. 1 Toll and Ling, “The Virginia Slims,” 172. 1 Timothy Dewhirst, Wonkyong B. Lee, Geoffrey T. Fong, and Pamela M. Ling, “Exporting An Inherently Harmful Product,” Journal of Business Ethics 139, no. 1 (2016): 163-165, https://doi-org.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/10.1007/s10551-015-2648-7. 1 Anne M. O’Keefe and Richard W. Pollay, “Deadly Targeting of Women in Promoting Cigarettes,” Journal of the American Medical Womens Association 51, no. 1-2 (1996): 67, http://www.columbia.akadns.net/itc/hs/pubhealth/p9740/readings/okeefe.pdf. 1 Thomas C. Boyd, Carol J. Boyd, and Timothy B. Greenlee, “A Means to an End: Slim Hopes and Cigarette Advertising,” Health Promotion Practice 4, no. 3 (2003): 267, https://doi-org.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/10.1177/1524839903004003011. 1 Cathryn Jakobson, “Why They Stretched the Slims,” New York Times, June 8, 1986, https://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/08/magazine/why-they-stretched-the-slims.html. 1 Boyd, Boyd, and Greenlee, “A Means to an End,” 267. 1 O’Keefe and Pollay, “Deadly Targeting,” 67. 1 Steve Craig, “‘Torches of Freedom’: Themes of Women’s Liberation in American Cigarette Advertising,” (1999): 14, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steve_Craig3/publication/228934885_Torches_of_Freedom_Themes_of_Women's_Liberation_in_American_ Cigarette_Advertising_A_Paper_Presented_to_the_Gender_Studies_Division_SouthwestTexas/links/571a185b08ae986b8b7c430f.pdf. 1 Emily Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History: Packaging Feminism in Twentieth-Century American Popular Culture (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2017), 17, https://doi-org.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/10.36019/9780813576350. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 183. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 182. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 164. 1 Boyd, Boyd, and Greenlee, “A Means to an End,” 268-269. 1 Jakobson, “Why They Stretched the Slims.” 1 Toll and Ling, “The Virginia Slims,” 178. 1 Adrian Shirk, “The Death of the Cool Feminist Smoker,” The Atlantic, January 30, 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/the-death-of-the-cool-feminist-smoker/283273/. 1 Toll and Ling, “The Virginia Slims,” 175. 1 Dewhirst, Lee, Fong, and Ling, “Exporting,” 167. 1 Jakobson, “Why They Stretched the Slims.” 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 183. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 184. 1 Dewhirst, Lee, Fong, and Ling, “Exporting,” 166. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 164. 1 “Chapter 4: Factors Influencing Tobacco Use Among Women,” in Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General (Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2001), 502. 1 “Chapter 4,” 506. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 163. 1 Maggie Polk, “Philip Morris: How Virginia Slims Targeted Women to Sell Cigarettes,” Medium, October 24, 2018, https://medium.com/@maggiepolk/philip-morris-how-virginia-slims-targeted-women-to-sell-cigarettes-e4bcf8271d2. 1 Polk, “Philip Morris.” 1 Dewhirst, Lee, Fong, and Ling, “Exporting,” 268. 1 Craig, “‘Torches of Freedom’,” 11. 1 Craig, “‘Torches of Freedom’,” 8. 1 “Chapter 4,” 502. 1 Toll and Ling, “The Virginia Slims,” 174. 1 Boyd, Boyd, and Cash, “Why Is Virginia Slim,” 27-28. 1 Boyd, Boyd, and Greenlee, “A Means to an End,” 269. 1 Craig, “‘Torches of Freedom’,” 11. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 184. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 186. 1 Westkaemper, Selling Women’s History, 183. 1 Craig, “‘Torches of Freedom’,” 3. 1 Amanda Amos and Margaretha Haglund, “From Social Taboo to ‘Torch of Freedom’: The Marketing of Cigarettes to Women,” Tobacco Control 9, no. 1 (2000): 3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.9.1.3. 1 Boyd, Boyd, and Cash, “Why Is Virginia Slim,” 27-28. 1 Toll and Ling, “The Virginia Slims,” 173. 1 O’Keefe and Pollay, “Deadly Targeting,” 69.


76

Memory and politics are unstable

Politics is how power displaces and

terrains: they can have different meanings

exerts itself to govern space and time, it is the

contingent on the person, specific time and

power to control and produce subjects to

space. Memories are epistemological

constitute knowledge and epistemological

products constructed by how we collectively

discourses which get retained in order to

engage with the state and its power;

assert a dominant narrative. Memories are not

currently, we are subject to institutions of

monolithic, rather, they are multidimensional;

power that mediate our spaces on technical

they are not just the ability to retain

spheres which constitute our own

information or to recall the past (Molden

knowledges and subsequently, how we

2015). It is how structures of power maintain

navigate these spaces. In essence, politics is

the status-quo through uncontested

the competitive struggle for how power

memories; by this token, the politics of

mediates what knowledges are permitted to

memory is an opportunity to understand how

be transmitted throughout time and space in

conditions of social and political changes can

order to naturalize a particular social order

be enacted, how dominant narratives are

and to prefigure structural changes.

universalized and can be disrupted through contestation. Written mediums are


77

permeated under ownership by entities of

control over organizing social relations due to

power and have the ability to standardize

its hegemonic capital over epistemological

what knowledge is universal and thus what

discourse. The Gutenberg bible illustrates

gets to be transmitted across space and time.

how power can be both oppressive and

The Gutenberg printing press standardized

productive, producing a subject that

texts that were previously personal and

universalizes the author’s own perception of

particular to each monk that would copy

space and time, constituting a collective

them: each memory was independent from

remembrance while subordinating alternative

mediation of the state. It was when the

voices because of its power to mass produce

success of the Gutenberg bible emerged as

and retain knowledge.

the first mass-produced commodity which

Politics and memory are conducive to

then had the ability to politicize knowledge

one another as they work to naturalize

through monopolizing spaces: producing

universal social orders. In a political and social

identical, standardized copies of the bible. As

regime of neoliberalism, the intensification of

a result, they had the power to espouse one

class division, notably the “us versus them”

entity’s own interests as dominant and

narrative that subordinates one for the benefit

universal due to its wide reach to mass

of the other, as well as the radical sense of

audiences (Benedict 1983). In essence,

individualism prevails. It materializes through

memory has to do with politics in this case

dominant discourses in the interests of the

because the knowledge disseminated by the

ruling class (Chiasson 2020). The notion of

Gutenberg bible is a mnemonic political

politics is present as neoliberalism can

agent that centered around a single entity’s

simultaneously act as a tool to articulate


78

historically subordinated voices. As Baer

racism: how an old civil rights strategy is

notes in “Redoing Feminism”, “Neoliberal

being used in a new digital age”, the author

discourses of individual choice, flexibilization,

Sage Goodwin, writes about how

and mobility offer unprecedented

communications technologies provide a

opportunities for destabilizing normative

space where marginalized groups have the

roles and eroding traditional social

power to reach mass audiences from their

formations in ways that appear empowering”

point of view. In 2016, Diamond Lavish

(21). In a digital age, technological platforms

Reynolds was able to livestream an event of

have fostered social spaces where contested

structural racism: the horrific police brutalities

memories have become more visible and

that her husband was subject to. This incident

permissible, in “Technology, memory, and

outraged mass audiences by focusing the

collective knowing”, Elwood and Mitchell

spotlight on her experiences first-hand which

state, “The digital encoding and storage of

the mainstream media could never fully

social and spatial media, together with their

reach. Politics reifies itself with respect to

interactive functions, render memories

memory because different forms of

mediated through them ‘stickier’ and

representation do different kinds of attention

‘slipperier’ – more permanent and also harder

work; it is the competitive struggle for power

for any single entity to control" (151). Digital

since television is not necessarily unmediated

spaces can act as political agents to help

(Goodwin 2020, 6). A hierarchy under a

marginalized groups mobilize together to

neoliberal regime permits dominant groups,

disrupt the dominant narrative. This is further

notably the white, male television newsman to

supplemented in the article “Viral videos of

mainstream racial injustice from their own


79

point of view. The white male presenter

navigate spaces and naturalize social orders.

cannot fully articulate racial inequalities due

The particular time and space can alter what

to their material experiences. As a result, in

memories are prioritized over another which

the absence of the knowledge, memory and

creates the political discourses over what

material experiences of being Black in the

bodies of knowledge get universalized. As

United States, the hegemonic narrative of the

discussed in this paper, memory has been

white male espouses their own interests that

mediated historically within dominant political

mediates the social order. The liberty

and social regimes of neoliberalism through

Reynolds had to livestream her experiences

mass-produced commodities and now, digital

of racism first-hand countered the dominant

technologies. Subsequently, the politics of

discourses through digital spaces in a way

memory is an opportunity to understand how

where written mediums never could.

conditions of social and political changes of

In conclusion, politics and memory are unstable terrains that rely on each other to

our spaces can be prefigured when subject to entities of power.


80

Works Cited Anderson, B. (1983). “Introduction”. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin of the Spread of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso. Baer, H. (2015). Redoing feminism: Digital activism, body politics, and neoliberalism. Feminist Media Studies, 16(1), 17-34. doi:10.1080/14680777.2015.1093070 Chiasson, B. (2020, October 9). Redoing Feminism: Digital activism, body politics, and neoliberalism. Lecture. Elwood, S., & Mitchell, K. (2014). Technology, memory, and collective knowing. Cultural Geographies, 22(1), 147-154. doi:10.1177/1474474014556062 Goodwin, S. (2020). Viral videos of racism: How an old civil rights strategy is being used in a new digital age. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/viral-videos-of-racism-how-an-oldcivil-rights-strategy-is-being-used-in-a-new-digital-age-139726 Molden, B. (2015). Resistant pasts versus mnemonic hegemony: On the power relations of collective memory. Memory Studies, 9(2), 125-142.


81

Introduction Referencing materials found on the

acknowledged. Due to ongoing colonial

Parks Canada webpages and the Canadian

brainwashing, which upholds Western

National Parks System Plan of 1997, this essay

knowledge's supposed superiority,

will explore the dominant discourses of

Indigenous culture and ways of knowing have

conservation and recreation to illustrate the

been rejected, proving harmful on social and

influences of settler colonialism in

environmental levels. Although traditions may

conservation and outdoor recreation in the

not align with rigid Western conservation

settler nation-state called Canada. By

methods, the complex relationship of

outlining how settler colonial domination of

Indigenous peoples and their culture to the

nature in the name of futurity works to bolster

environment must be a part of efforts for

the hegemony of Western knowledge and

climate, environmental, and social justice.

lived experience while eradicating and

Canadian National Parks System Plan 1997

making invisible the traditions, inherent

Riddled throughout the Canadian

rights, and bodies of Indigenous people in

National Parks System Plan of 1997 are

Canada. The culturally significant and vital

settler-colonial markings that operate to

role of Indigenous peoples concerning social

further the ongoing goal of Indigenous

ecology and the environment must be

erasure. This claim can be further justified


82

because of this 106-page document; a three-

degradation, illustrates the importance and

sentence paragraph is dedicated to

need for centering Indigenous ways of

addressing "New National Parks and

knowing and tradition to ensure

Aboriginal People" (1997, p.10). Parks

environmental 'conservation,' climate and

Canada claims the objective of National Parks

environmental justice.

systems is "To protect for all time

Ecological Integrity and Conservation

representative natural areas of Canadian

A key pillar of the Canadian National

significance in a system of national parks, to

Parks mandate to science and conservation is

encourage public understanding,

'Ecological Integrity,' which, in plain

appreciation and enjoyment of this natural

language, means that "ecosystems have

heritage so as to leave it unimpaired for future

integrity when they have their native

generations" (1997, p.1). However, for

components intact" (Ecological Integrity:

millennia, Indigenous peoples had lived on

Science and Conservation, 2019). However,

Turtle Island (Canada). The National Parks

how is it that National Parks can have their

system's introduction undermines traditional

native components intact if their creation

extended kinship networks of Indigenous

works to displace and erase Indigenous

peoples to nonhuman actors, nature, by

communities, the native stewards of the so-

taking land away from human interaction. The

called Canadian land? Thus, the mandate of

historical significance of indigenous kinship

Ecological Integrity not only contradicts the

and land stewardship practices, in

hidden and real agenda of National Parks but

conjunction with the arrival of settler-colonial

also instills to the Canadian public the idea

practices, a catalyst for environmental

that the land must be saved from Indigenous


83

communities, reinforcing “racist ideologies

through their land stewardship practices and

that cast Indigenous peoples as inferior

culturally embedded respect for the

savages and invading white colonists as

environment, underpinned by extended

civilizing agents (Gosine, 2008, p.36).

kinship networks, which “for Indigenous

The Canadian assemblage of indigeneity, three realms of Canadian indigeneity where settler-colonial violence and transformation have been unmistakable – land, spirituality, and sexuality, illustrate the Indigenous understanding that all aspects of life are connected and are three significant sites of Indigenous kinship. 1. When discussing conservation, to omit extended kinship structures of Indigenous peoples removes the possibility of ecological integrity, resulting in long-term environmental and cultural impacts for Indigenous people. For example, for millennia, Indigenous peoples had lived on Turtle Island. Taking care of it

1

In an essay I had written for WS 2220E: Feminist Theory and Praxis, The Canadian Assemblage of Canadian Indigeneity was conceptualized and explored.

people [are] not simply shorthand for family or peers; [but rather] an entire system that structures how one moves through the world.” (Simmons, 2019, p.178). The culturally embedded relationship with the environment was carried out in practice by Indigenous communities in traditions such as controlled burning rituals. Controlled burnings worked to renew local vegetation and cultural medicine, protect animal habitats and biodiversity, and reduce risks of extreme forest fires, contributing to better climate resiliency within their landscape. However, the co-optation of forest management by settlers - used fire during the early 1900s in


84

ways that ultimately devastated the

Conservation, 2020). However, it is crucial to

environment due to burning projects'

recognize that a person's identity shapes their

commercial agendas. Resulting in

experiences and feelings towards nature and

government fire suppression and the erasure

the environment. Many conservation

of traditional Indigenous methods of

strategies, such as the Canadian National Park

controlled burning rituals, replaced by

system, overlap with Indigenous territories

destructive, commercially driven colonial fire

and eventually result in policies that restrict

management practices 2.

Indigenous peoples' access to and traditional

#NatureForAll and Recreation

use of their lands to the detriment of Indigenous livelihoods and health.

Although conservation entails conserving land in addition to culture and heritage, the latter two realms in need of conservation are commercialized and colonized. However, colonial conservation projects shield their settler-colonial agendas by framing conservation alongside recreation. #NativeForAll is a project which Parks Canada is involved in which claims to diversify outdoor spaces (#NatureForAll: Science and

For Indigenous peoples, nature may be viewed as a reminder of the colonial violence and domination of their people, culture, and land. Colonial trauma and ongoing colonial practices have made nature a whitedominated space excluding and exploiting many Indigenous communities, which simultaneously worked to ensure Indigenous dependency on the State (Alfred, 2009, p.50). As the discourse of recreation is underpinned

2

For more, see Parks Canada section on Fire Management shorturl.at/tAHI9


85

by health and capitalism, National Parks's

the emotional trauma of being taken from

implementation offers the most privileged of

land and not being able to access it or use it

individuals the chance to try new activities

the way they should be entitled to influences

and explore ‘natural’ conserved areas.

generational trauma faced by Indigenous

However, for Indigenous communities who

peoples (Alfred, 2009, p.47).

have been displaced to create a National Park, their physical and mental health suffers.

Conclusion Colonial Canadian law has declared

Indigenous communities have been

that Indigenous peoples have inherent rights

subsistence economies, living off the

to the land and its resources, yet still fails to

resources of their local land. Thus, the forcible

offer meaningful reconciliation, legitimate

removal from their local environment resulted

participation, or support in any autonomy,

in declines in hunting and gathering on

political, economic, or otherwise. Many

traditional land. The displacement works two-

conservation strategies, such as the Canadian

fold to impact the physical health of

National Park system, overlap with Indigenous

Indigenous peoples. Firstly, the decline in

territories and eventually, resulting in policies

traditional stewardship practices, cultural

that restrict Indigenous people's access to

traditions, and resource gathering also meant

and traditional use of their lands to the

reducing physical activity. Less physical

detriment of Indigenous livelihoods and

activity, the loss of traditional foods, and

health. Thus, the Canadian National Parks

movement to rural unsupported communities

system clandestinely upholds the Canadian

and reserves leave Indigenous peoples reliant

fallacy of a welcoming, multicultural, and

on nutrient-poor and expensive food. Next,

naturally plentiful country. However, the


86

conservation and recreation practices

settler-colonial violence in Canada, the realms

promoted through National Park's influence

of environmental conservation and outdoor

"every aspect of [Indigenous] lives, [reshaping

recreation cannot be overlooked.

them] in the interests of capitalism and to ensure the opportunity and profit potential of the white population recently settled in their homelands,” not only erasing Indigenous culture and traditions but also eradicating Indigenous bodies (Alfred, 2009, p.46). When trying to address and expose the ongoing


87

Works Cited Alfred, T. (2009). Colonialism and State Dependency. Journal of Aboriginal Health, 5: 42-60. Ecological Integrity: Science and Conservation. (2019, October 8). Parks Canada. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/nature/science/conservation/ie-ei Gosine, A., Teelucksingh C. (2008). ‘Naming/Framing Environmental Justice in Canada’ in Environmental Justice and Racism in Canada. Emond Montgomery Publications Limited. Introduction to National Parks System Plan. (1997) Parks Canada. chromeextension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://pcacdn.azureedge.net/ -/media/docs/v-g/pn-np/National-Park-System-Plan-Parks-Canada.pdf?modified=2009081 9113553&la=en&hash=9B799D7CC4B5F6C37CE21FC46DA6B6E88CA7DE67 #NatureForAll: Science and Conservation. (2020, November 18). Parks Canada. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/nature/science/impliquez-involved/nature-pour-tous-nature-for-all Simmons, K. (2019). “Reorientations; or, An Indigenous Feminist Reflection on the Anthropocene.” JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, 58(2): 174-179.


88

Introduction There are multiple tools at our disposal that aid in personal expression during a protest. These tools include, but are not limited to, visual mediums, including signs or expressive art, human physicality, and voice. In this paper, I will argue that the medium in which protests are presented changes how the

support. This essay aims to dissect the protest environment

into

its

subcategories

and

analyze how each medium can strategically influence its audience. Message perception will be analyzed for mediums that fall into the visual protest, physical protest, and auditory protest categories.

message is perceived. This argument will be explored on the basis that different mediums target

different

senses

and

emotional

responses to information (McLuhan & Fiore, 2008). The perception of protest messages will be analyzed using a wide range of global protest cases that used various protest mediums. Additionally, the effectiveness of these protest mediums will be analyzed by examining how they influenced public

Visual Protest Visual protest will be categorized as any medium of protest that primarily depends on the audience’s visual perception. Given the subjective nature of art, it is likely that the audience’s

preliminary

knowledge

and

subjective view of the visual media will influence their perception during a visual protest. The visual environment provides us


89

with a framed point of view, meaning our

interpreted

perception of content will be framed by our

choreographed piece is highly subjective.

subjective

view

of

the

canvas’

content

(McLuhan & Fiore, 2008).

attempting

to

a

from

her

experience

as

a

choreographer, influenced her perception of the SOLO performance by Maria Hassabi.

“Choreography as a Medium of Protest”

Wilson notes that the orientation of the chair

(Foellmer, 2016, p.58), Niklas Luhmann argues

set-up caused her to make assumptions about

that choreography can connect everyday

the performance before it began. Wilson

experiences to art and the political (Foellmer,

refers to this subjective experience as a framed

2016,

artistic

“spatial perspective” (Wilson, 2018, p.8). This

understanding that Foellmer describes implies

experience suggests that when attempting to

that the audience must formulate connections

translate

between the visual choreography medium and

interpretations, we are swayed by our prior

their political perspectives. Arguably, for this

personal associations with the presented

network of understanding to work efficiently,

space or visual stimulants.

This

meaning.

of

In

p.63).

convey

meaning

Wilson notes how her preliminary visual knowledge,

In choreography, the body is the canvas

political

network

of

the viewer must contribute some of their preliminary

knowledge

to

make

visual

experiences

into

In addition to this, the meme is a visual

these

medium that requires preliminary knowledge

connections. Each viewer will have different

to generate meaning from the framed visual.

experiences that they associate with certain

Memes are a visual medium that can deliver a

visual components of a piece. Therefore, the

political message in a relatable and culturally relevant way. In an article about Hong Kong


90

protests, Pharr (2019) mentions that Hong

alter the perception of the message being

Kong Students utilized American pop culture

delivered.

trends, such as quotes from The Hunger

In Mpofu’s article about South African

Games franchise, to “contextualize their own

protests, disruptive protest is defined as

struggles” (Pharr, 2019). The students’ ability

something that interferes with the everyday

to use memes from across the globe to

way of life (Mpofu, 2017, p.358). Furthermore,

contextualize

that

Mpofu argues that if their protests were to be

visual mediums are loaded with background

effective, they had to disrupt the running of

subjectivity that shapes our point of view. Thus,

institutions to force people to pay attention to

visual protest mediums have the capacity to

the protest issues (Mpofu, 2017, p.359). This

generate multiple logical and emotional

description of disruption as a protest strategy

understandings that are dependent on the

proves that the physical barrier between these

audience’s preliminary knowledge.

protestors and everyday activity shifts the

struggle

demonstrates

audience’s perception and raises awareness. Physical Protest

Additionally, Mpofu describes the

Physical protest will be categorized as

protestors’ involvement as a physical barrier

protestors being present together in a physical

in the system, which illustrates how physical

environment

protest presence immerses the participants in

and

using

their

body

to

communicate a message. It can be argued that

the cause. Uluğ and Acar (2018) argue that

the immersive nature of physical protest alters

the participants of a physical protest find a

the understanding of a cause. Additionally, the

“new intimacy” with each other in which they

various intensities of physical protest can likely

share a form of trust and respect (Ulug &


91

Acar, 2018, p.45). Through their interviews

fighting for the same cause results in a

with various protest participants, Ulug and

momentary team-like emotional connection.

Acar (2018) noted that while the Gezi Park

Violence is an extreme physical medium

protests were environmentally charged,

that is occasionally used in protest. Within

connections between LGBTQ+ activists and

Mpofu’s article, he refers to Paret, who argues

other social movements were made (Ulug &

that violence is a protest tool that can

Acar, 2018, p.48). These forged connections

empower marginalized groups. However, they

support the notion that being physically

note that democracy may use this form of

present in a protest environment results in a

defiance against the protestors (Mpofu, 2017,

new united emotional understanding within

p.360). This observation suggests that the

the political movement. With this in mind,

immersive nature of physical protest can unify

other participants felt that after the protest

minorities

occurred, the feeling of unity created by the

However, as the intensity of physical protest

physical group setting did not appear to last

shifts towards violence, the perception of the

long (Ulug & Acar, 2018, p.49). The

protestors can become negative. Selvanathan

decreased unity associated with the reduction

& Lickel (2018) investigated the Malaysian

of physical presence in protest further

public’s reaction to Bersih 5, a protest that

supports the notion that the physical protest

advocated for electoral change. Selvanathan &

has an emotional impact on its participants

Lickel (2018) indicate that feelings of threat

due to its immersive nature. It appears that

and anxiety can arise from the public when

being present in a space in which everyone is

viewing physical protests. Given the negative

and

gain

political

attention.

psychological associations with the feeling of


92

threat, the public may have a negative

can use language tactics to appeal to a protest

association with the protest group and or the

group’s whole identity. In addition to this,

political movement they stand for (Selvanathan

Russel and Carlton note that auditory protest

& Lickel, 2018, p.233).

allows for the participants’ spatial unity. Forms of auditory protest, including vocal speech,

Auditory Protest

rhythms,

and

music,

connected

protest

Auditory protest will be categorized as

participants in jail despite their physical

a protest medium that primarily targets our

separation in cells (Russel & Carlton, 2018,

sense of hearing. McLuhan and Fiore (2008)

p.5). This suggests that auditory protest has

suggest

that

the

the capacity to unite participants despite

envelops

us

and

auditory results

environment in

a

greater

spatial limitations.

connection between listeners. Therefore, the

Within the category of speech is the

utilization of speech in protest may create a

utilization of comedy as a means of political

sense of unity for the listeners.

commentary.

Bassiouney’s article about protests in Egypt

makes

the

connection

In

Barrozo’s

article

about

comedians, he notes that they can make

between

complicated concepts digestible to the public

language and identity. Bassiouney argues that

and can assemble an audience to make a

speakers can utilize their dialogue to create an

difference (Barrozo, 2019), which suggests

identity for themselves and their audience

that the auditory comedic environment has a

(Bassiouney, 2012, p.109). This suggests that

unifying effect on its listeners. Ashley Nicole

the utilization of speech in protest has a

Black, a comedic writer on Full Frontal With

unifying effect, given that a singular speaker

Samantha Bee, argues that comedy has the


93

power to unite audiences in our current

various mediums that protestors utilize to

polarizing political climate where there is great

convey

mistrust in the news (Mills, 2019, p.129). Unlike

perception is largely dependent on our

the news, Black notes that comedians have a

preliminary

transparent nature that provides the audience

presentation, which results in highly subjective

with a sense of comfort. This comfort

emotional and analytical responses. The

established in the comedy platform allows

immersive nature of physical protest creates a

comedians to experiment with the political

momentary unity with those involved. In

subject matter and utilize the element of

addition

surprise to encourage people to see political

becomes aggressive, the feeling of threat can

content from a different perspective (Mills,

negatively affect the protest cause. Auditory

2019, p.129). The use of comedy as a political

protest can create a connected protest

medium appears to alter an audience’s

environment despite spatial limitations, and a

perception of a cause, given the connection

comedic

and trust established between the audience

authentic

and the auditory medium.

information. By understanding how various

their

messages.

associations

to

this,

auditory platform

when

Visual

with

physical

medium to

the

protest

visual

protest

provides

present

an

political

protest mediums can affect our perception of Conclusion The medium in which protests are presented changes the way the message is perceived. This idea is illustrated by the

political

movements,

specific

protest

strategies can be utilized to advance social and political change.


94

Works Cited Barrozo, T. (2019, September). Comedy and politics: the cursed connection. Towson University. Retrieved from https://global-factiva com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/redir/default.aspx?P=sa&an=UWIR000020190924ef9n0007b&cat=a &ep=ASE Bassiouney, R. (2012). Politicizing identity: code choice and stance-taking during the Egyptian revolution. Discourse & Society, 23(2), 107–126. doi: 10.1177/0957926511431514 Foellmer, S. (2016). Choreography as a medium of protest. Dance Research Journal, 48(3), 58–69. doi:10.1017/s0149767716000395 McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q. (2008). The medium is the massage: an inventory of effects. London: Penguin. Mills, J. (2019). Comedy, politics, and how improv can save the world: an interview with Ashley Nicole Black. Comedy Studies, 10(1), 129–133. doi: 10.1080/2040610x.2019.1592289 Mpofu, S. (2017). Disruption as a communicative strategy: the case of #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall students’ protests in South Africa. Journal of African Media Studies, 9(2), 351–373. doi:10.1386/jams.9.2.351_1 Paret, M. (2015). Violence and democracy in South Africa’s community protests. Review of African Political Economy. 42(143), 107–123. Pharr, C. (2019, September). Hong Kong protestors are using pop culture memes to stay visible to the world. Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1700030/hong-kong-protestors-cite-popculture-to-stay-visible-to-world/ Russell, E. K., & Carlton, B. (2018). Counter-carceral acoustemologies: Sound, permeability and feminist protest at the prison boundary. Theoretical Criminology. 1-18. doi: 10.1177/1362480618769862 Selvanathan, H. P., & Lickel, B. (2018). Empowerment and threat in response to mass protest shape public support for a social movement and social change: A panel study in the context of the Bersih movement in Malaysia. European Journal of Social Psychology, 49(2), 230–243. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2502 Wilson, A. (2018). The mobile body: examining perception through choreography, dance, and performance. Dance Theses. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.slc.edu/dance_etd/2 Uluğ, Ö. M., & Acar, Y. G. (2018). What happens after the protests? Understanding protest outcomes through multi-level social change. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 24(1), 44–53. doi: 10.1037/pac0000269


95

“A healthy society furthers man’s capacity to

their fate and undeserving of any kind of

love his fellow men, to work creatively, to

social assistance presenting this as part of

develop his reason and objectivity, to have a

nature. This view extends to encompass

sense of self which is based on the experience

racialized communities, differently abled

of his own productive powers. An unhealthy

people, and additional groups on the margins

society is one which creates mutual hostility,

of mainstream society. It takes the reductive

distrust, which transforms man into an

stance that these groups were not “strong

instrument of use and exploitation for others

enough” to prosper economically while

which deprives him of a sense of self, except

simultaneously allowing greater systemic

inasmuch as he submits to others or becomes

issues like income inequality and institutional

an automaton.”

racism to flourish, free from the gaze of the

Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

Part 1: Exploring Social Darwinism aka Herbert Spencer Ruins Everything Social Darwinism is intrinsically linked to both the concepts of modernity and eugenics. It represents an ethically bankrupt framework in which the poor are deserving of

critical eye. So where did this come from and what would the world be like if this idea had never been loosed on a population who, generally speaking, is satisfied with simplistic answers to complex questions? Social Darwinism represents a gross mischaracterization of Charles Darwin’s


96

Theory of Natural Selection. For the most

this, as I understand it, is that one’s social

tenuous of reasons, sociologist Herbert

standing was intimately tied to one’s capacity

Spencer took issue with the word “selection”

to engage in mutual aid. Further, it suggests a

and changed it to “survival of the fittest.”

recognition within early human societies that

While the notion of Natural Selection

they were stronger when pooling their talents,

concerns different species gaining distinct

knowledge, and resources as a collective than

evolutionary advantages that allow them to

as individuals.

prosper over other species, “survival of the

Aside from acting as the poster boy for the

fittest'' is widely read as meaning that

dangers of using cool sounding language to

intraspecies conflict is a critical component of

simplify complex ideas, it’s also important to

evolution. While it is true that intraspecies

note that Spencer worked within the

conflict can occur if resources are scarce,

sociological framework of structural

cooperation is far more common in the

functionalism. This paradigm argues that

natural world as Peter Kropotkin catalogued

society consists of different social structures

extensively in Mutual Aid: A Factor In

that serve to shape the whole. This framework

Evolution. This can be further extrapolated to

also has the curious tendency to view society

humans. In The Moral Animal, evolutionary

as a living organism which more less

psychologist Robert Wright argues that

represents the anthropomorphising of mass

morality as a construct is largely the result of

psychology. This view is ontologically

the positive reinforcement early humans

problematic to say the least and was

received from sharing aid and resources

popularized by you guessed it, Herbert

within their community. The implication of

Spencer yet again. Inherent within structural


97

functionalism is the notion that some groups

version of structural functionalism perfect for

have to be on the bottom of the social

our neoliberal milieu: Social Darwinism.

hierarchy making sure the essential work in

The notion that competition runs counter to

running a society gets done. A less generous

human nature is not a new one. It has been

and more accurate reading of this from

discussed at length by theorists in a wide

Marxist Conflict Theorists states that the

range of disciplines including Christian Fuchs

bottom of the social hierarchy provides

in political philosophy, Erich Fromm in

labour and generates profit to maintain the

psychology, and Miya Tokamitsu in the realm

lifestyles of the wealthy owners of the means

of cultural criticism. Further, studies like

of production. An extreme, dystopian version

“Diverting Blame to Stay Sane” by Susanna

of this can be seen in Aldous Huxley’s Brave

Toivanen, Anna Tarantino, et. al. lay bare the

New World in which society is strictly divided

devastating mental health effects that

into castes with Alphas as the privileged few

neoliberal competition, precarious

at the top and Epsilons as the lowest caste of

employment, and the lack of available social

labourers. It represents one of the biggest

assistance had on their sample group of

failings of structural functionalism as a whole

young people. They concluded that the

and contributed to its decline as a valid

subjects in their sample group who had the

sociological framework. Nevertheless, it was

lowest incidences of depression and anxiety

the lens through which Spencer viewed

did so by denying reality and rejecting

society and his coining of the phrase “survival

individual responsibility for their economic

of the fittest'' would go on to create a crueler

situation. This does not sound like a healthy way to build a society.


98

I cannot stress how much better off we would

bullwhip as a chronically flatulent, young

be as a civilization if this concept had never

adult novel-loving, leather tights-wearing

been created and we had embraced mutual

hipster in his 20s (literally everything I just

aid instead. Everything from income

wrote is true), Social Darwinism had already

inequality to major wars to our idea of

been normalized as a social paradigm for

government responsibility would be

decades. By the time he rose to power,

drastically different. There are no less than a

charlatans and grifters had already given

million different ways I can take this idea, but I

Social Darwinism the veneer of scientific

think the most pressing is to address World

validation through the popularization of

War II. Specifically, how Spencer’s “survival of

eugenics. Naturally, to a deeply broken mind,

the fittest” was translated into “survival of the

the next step after “scientifically” “proving”

best, the most capable, and the most

that certain groups of people are “inferior”

successful” in German. If that sounds like

and act as a “drain” on societal resources

something a fascist would say and believe

would be the mass extermination of said

then you are correct, and this is the meat of

groups of people. I feel disgusting for having

what I want to discuss. I would like to go very

written that last sentence. No amount of

big on this and posit a world in which fascism

sarcastic and derisive Chris Farley-style scare

never happened as a result of mutual aid

quotes can change that.

replacing Social Darwinism in the cultural and

At this point, I think this mini essay has

intellectual zeitgeists from the late 19th

done its job. I’ve painted a picture of the

Century onward. The sad truth is that while

harm an idea like Social Darwinism has

Hitler was still street fighting people with a

caused, including its role in the rise of fascist


99

ideology. Now let’s have some fun now with a little help from a certain iconic writer of the

Part 3 - Alternate World History 1912-1955 Before I begin, it’s important to note

50s and 60s whose style I spent way too much

that World War I still happens in this timeline.

time learning to imitate.

The monarchs of Europe were engaged in a deeply stupid arms race that was bound to

Part 2 - Intro (in the style of Rod Serling) Witness Shawn McNamara, age thirty-

blow up eventually regardless of Social Darwinism or Mutual Aid.

one, a man of deep contradiction. At once a

The first major change that I would like to

rather dour critic of his time yet true believer

posit, with mutual aid replacing Social

in the wondrous capacity of the human race.

Darwinism, is that Teddy Roosevelt has

The time, the present. The place, a cold

massive support for his social and economic

February night in a town not dissimilar from

policies in the 1912 Primaries, becomes the

your own. In the depths of dreams, Mr.

Republican nominee, and goes on to defeat

McNamara steps from a world all too familiar

Woodrow Wilson (one of history’s most

and into a realm of endless possibility. What

underrated monsters) in the Presidential

dreams may come when one transcends our

Election that year. Aside from overseeing trust

reality straight into...The Twilight Zone.

busting of monopolies, never instituting segregation as U.S. Government Policy (Wilson!), and passing universal healthcare in the early 20th Century, President Roosevelt also entered America into World War I early. He does this because, well, he’s Teddy


100

FUCKING Roosevelt, the man who gave a

kinder in the early 20th Century. Striving for a

lengthy speech right after being shot. He was

mutually beneficial solution after a tragedy

a man’s man who loved war who literally

would not only be in line with those values

petitioned Wilson to let him fight in WWI

but also reflective of Roosevelt’s personal

when he was in his late 50s in our timeline. I

values as I understand them.

have zero doubt he would have gotten in on

In this timeline the Great Depression still

that action had he been President.

happens but because of Roosevelt’s efforts to

WWI goes on to end a year early because of

build a public safety net during his second

America’s involvement. Following the war,

Presidency, its effects are not as severe.

since the U.S. President in the Paris peace

Canada, forever striving to be America’s little

negotiations is interested in exerting

brother, instituted similar changes and things

influence instead of acting like a superior,

go pretty well for us too. Things are still hard,

moralizing asshole (WILLLSOOOOON!!!), the

but the poverty isn’t as desperate, Coolidge

Treaty of Versailles ends up being much

still screws up the initial response, and

kinder to the Germans preventing their

Franklin Delano Roosevelt still gets elected in

economic devastation. Why? Teddy Roosevelt

1932. Also, important to note, however, that

was an absolute Unit and would have been

the Russian Revolution still happens. Czar

smart enough to realize that our version of the

Nicholas II was a genuinely terrible leader and

Treaty of Versailles would have made another

there was no way the Romanoff Dynasty was

war inevitable and acted as a mediator

going to continue after he got the country

between European powers. American culture

into an unpopular war. Further, the Romanoff

as a whole was a lot more optimistic and

family has a deeply problematic history of


101

oppression through the 19th Century

Satisfaction with the Soviet Union and My

regardless of timeline so Nicholas II’s

Further Satisfaction with the Soviet Union.

disastrous reign was still enough to make

One of the major overall changes I

average people stand up and say “enough.” I

want to stress in a world with mutual aid in

will say however, that without Social

place of social Darwinism is that countries

Darwinism and interpersonal competition,

begin to measure their strength not by

Trotsky succeeds Lenin as leader of the Soviet

military power but by quality of life for ALL

Union because Stalin recognizes that is what

citizens and their cultural influence as a

is best for the nation. Trotsky goes on to build

nation. I also need to be clear that I don’t

a more equitable communist country. It isn’t

mean this in the sense of cultural imperialism

perfect but it’s more in line with Marx and the

but in the sense of creating culture to enrich

atrocities of Stalinism never happen. Trotsky

people’s lives and a deep pride in the styles

largely takes Russia off of the world stage as

and cultural products one’s nation produces.

they look within for how to build a better

With a kinder Treaty of Versailles in place,

country. They do still sadly go through a

Germany does not face the harsh economic

pretty brutal transition from an agrarian to an

climate they did in our timeline after WWI.

industrial society but Trotsky, valuing life a lot

Since the treaty only enacts punitive measures

more than Stalin, does what he can to

on Kaiser Wilhelm personally and not the

mitigate the damage. Canadian Anarchist,

German people as a whole, they are never

Emma Goldman, goes on to write two books

forced to deal with the degradation of

about Trotsky’s Russia in the 1930s: My

national identity and economic inflation that happened in our timeline. The U.S. and


102

France, having successfully replaced

to encompass more European Nations and it

problematic monarchs in the past, pledge to

becomes huge international news in the late

help Germany to transition from monarchy to

20s when Trotsky, who is less hostile towards

representative democracy. Without Wilhelm

the West when he is faced with a version of

and Social Darwinism, Germany goes on to

Global Capitalism tempered by Roosevelt’s

place less emphasis on military strength and

regulation heavy reforms, agrees that Russia

instead focuses on becoming a cultural

will participate in the event moving forward.

juggernaut off the backs of their Romantic artists like Wagner, Schumann, and Goethe. By the 1920s, Germany rivals France as

In 1925, a failed artist named Adolf Hitler publishes a book called Mein Kampf that he wrote while in prison. The book goes

the seat of culture in Europe. The two nations

on to sell very few copies and is widely

still have a competitive relationship, but it is

viewed as masturbatory and repugnant by

one based in love of the other’s cultural

anyone who reads it. Having never been

output, not military strength. To

exposed to the concept of Social Darwinism,

commemorate the war that devastated both

Hitler’s attempt to segregate society into

countries, France and Germany go on to host

groups of the strong and the weak is seen as

a joint cultural showcase every year on

widely out of touch with reality and laughable.

Armistice Week. The goal is to promote

The book becomes an anti-semitic curiosity

productive cultural exchange and friendly

similar to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

relationships between political figures, artists,

but is widely unknown outside of academic

and average citizens in either country. The

circles in the years following its publication.

Armistice Week celebration eventually grows

Being the person he was, Hitler is humiliated


103

over the reception of his book and leaves

young to remember it. Further, their anti-

Germany for a country that will “appreciate his

socialist stance is poorly received by people

genius.” There are rumours that he emigrated

who had largely benefited from left-wing

to Argentina, but they are never

policies in the early 20th Century. Indeed,

substantiated. He is never heard from again

when they try to present themselves as a

until his obituary as an obscure anti-Semitic

viable political party, the entire country

author shows up in a couple minor

echoes the Dead Kennedys with a resounding

publications in the early 1960s. You may

“Nazi punks fuck off!” Without a charismatic

debate this reading of Hitler, but I believe that

leader, the Nazi movement fizzles.

he would not have been able to handle the

Colloquially in Europe, the term “Nazi”

narcissistic injury of people laughing at his

becomes a synonym for “chump.” In a great

work and being the butt end of a joke to

twist of irony, it goes on to become a term for

people he saw as his betters. Naturally, he

people a few levels more useless than a

frames this as punishing Germany by

“putz” within the Jewish Community.

depriving them of his genius. .

Without the Nazis, German Imperialism

The Nazi Party still tries to become

in the 30s, World War II, and the Holocaust

relevant in the 1930s, but they are widely

never happen. Most of the West, therefore,

mocked and seen as being equivalent to a

achieves a level of post-War economic

group like the Proud Boys today. Public

prosperity as the recovery from the Great

opinion widely characterizes them as losers

Depression hits its full swing by the late

who fetishize the military and WWI while

1930s. People are working around the world,

simultaneously, for the most part, being too

unions are strong, unimaginable


104

technological marvels begin to become

rights all happen as the direct result of the

staples in a world without the suppression

Holocaust’s would be victims surviving.

and destruction of scientific and cultural

Tying into what we talked about in

knowledge associated with fascism. WWII

3440, FDR receives a letter from Ho Chi Minh

never happening also frees up a significant

in the late 1930s asking for his help to build a

amount of scientific brain power to develop

fair and equitable country like the U.S. Since

ways to extend and enrich people’s lives

the Soviet Union and Communism have never

instead of ending them. The Manhattan

become scary “others” in this timeline, as

Project succeeds in creating the world’s first

socialist policies are already in place in most

lithium nuclear reactor instead of the atom

Western nations, FDR sees this as a chance to

bomb. The technology proves safer than

strengthen international relations. FDR and

plutonium-based reactors in our timeline and

new Soviet Premier Alexandra Kollantai

gives the world an unlimited, cheap, and

(Trotsky, having realized the need for new

clean energy supply (this is based on

leadership, established ten-year terms for the

prototype technology that exists today). The

Premiership and stepped down in 1934)

10+ million lives saved by the Holocaust

agree to help Ho with anything he needs. The

never happening also represent a great,

two see this as a fantastic opportunity to build

untapped well of potential. Everything from

a new, people-centric form of global

new scientific areas of study, new economic

development since colonialism has become

and banking policies that enable mutual aid

anathema by this point. Further, as one of the

networks, great works of art, and the first

foremost early Marxist Feminists, Kollantai

social movement for recognition of LGBT

emphasises the role of women in


105

development and sparks a worldwide

Humanity is in an unprecedented era of

movement towards greater gender equality.

global peace and even ideas that once

Seeing the success of the Vietnam

seemed commonplace like dividing ourselves

Development Project, China reaches out to

into Nations based on geographic location

the Global community for help in

start to become outdated and seriously

modernizing their country. China, The U.S.,

questioned in public discourse. United in

and The Soviet Union working together

mutual aid instead of the toxic competition of

simultaneously serves to prevent the Cold

Social Darwinism, humanity has come to a

War, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War

reckoning with its own past. Large scale

from happening.

decolonization efforts are underway using the

The 1940s sees a continued

Vietnam and China Development Projects as

strengthening of international relations. After

a model. Capitalism still exists but following

a quarter century without major conflict, FDR

the double punch of both Presidents

and Kollantai spend their final years in office

Roosevelt as well as the Soviet Union

establishing the United Nations. Unlike in our

providing a successful alternative, it has been

timeline, this version of the UN serves an

severely regulated and limited. There is not a

oversight function in regulating capitalism,

single millionaire left on the planet though

establishing global networks for mutual aid,

quality of life for the average citizen is much

and becomes the most respected diplomatic

higher. U.S. President Henry A. Wallace

and deliberative body in history.

addresses the United Nations General

By the time 1950 rolls around the world has

Assembly in 1955 announcing that the era of

drastically diverged from our timeline.

U.S. and Soviet Global Leadership will come


106

Compromise and Cooperation. He is

Part 4 - Conclusion (In the Style of Rod Serling) The dreams and fantasies of one

uncertain of what that future will hold but

Shawn McNamara presented as eulogy for a

states his belief that the 20th Century will

past that never came to fruition. Through the

stand as a monument to human potential

simple act of dreaming humanity’s darkest

when we work together. The decade closes

impulse, one that buries our reason, empathy,

with the establishment of the International

and compassion, was vanquished to the

Space Program and the first manned missions

dustheap of history. In its place a stronger

to the moon. Space represents a new frontier

loving world. Is this the feverish nightmare of

of global cooperation but certainly not the

a sleep deprived student? Or does this

last.

represent a world we can yet build? Or is this

to an end ushering in the era of Global

merely an excerpt from a history book, publication date unknown, addressed plainly from...The Twilight Zone?


107

INTRODUCTION

with

Commodity driven values associated

economic

farming

connection between food, health, nutritional

Salvadoran

have

altered

agricultural

traditional

disregard

the

into

value, and environmental impact in favor of

exploitative and non-sustainable systems of

quantitative modes of production (Francis et

production. The economy of El Salvador has

al., 2001, 103). The neoliberalization of the El

transitioned from an agricultural economy to a

Salvador

commercial service and free trade-based

industry have weakened the autonomy of

economy

The

locals, devastated the biodiversity of the land,

States'

increased the unpredictability of access to

(Segovia,

acknowledgment remaining

of

economic

practices

environment,

2017, the

2).

United

impacts

on

the

economy

and

the

agricultural

food, and preserved poverty in the country.

Salvadoran economy is imperative to a proper

The

industrialization

of

the

agricultural

analysis of the current agricultural industry and

industry in El Salvador represents a modern

modes of food production and purchasing in

form of colonialism that depleted everything

the country. Global food systems, which are

that did not conform to the rules and standards

rapidly infiltrating the Salvadorian socio-

dictated by capitalism (Sevilla Guzmán and Woodgate, 2013, 37). This paper will examine


108

the use of sustainable subsistence farming

which benefit exportation (104).

practices

Consequently, CAFTA requirements, surge

in

El

Salvador;

specifically,

agroecology and permaculture, as methods to

external debt, and thereby decrease El

rebuild the local economy, combat land

Salvador's sovereignty.

degradation, and ensure food security. REGENERATING THE LOCAL ECONOMY IN EL SALVADOR The Post-Civil War Climate In a post-civil war climate, El Salvador has become progressively dependent on international remittances as a form of income for citizens. Countless Salvadorians fled the violence and uncertainty of the civil war to the United States of America and have since consistently sent monetary compensation to family members remaining in El Salvador. As well, the economy is subsequently based on foreign investments since CAFTA led to the attraction from multinational companies (Wilson, 2007, 14 & 90). CAFTA demands the privatization of goods and services, escalates expansion and improvement of infrastructure,

Gang Violence and Access to Food El Salvador has a deepening and spreading of social violence. Gangs persist with violence towards the local community resulting from common crime and organized crime (Segovia, 2017, 8). The regularity of gang violence has resulted in internal and external

migration.

Migration

negatively

impacts the economy "due to the perverse effects on domestic and international private investment and its negative impacts on companies' profits due to extortion, increased security

costs

and

restrictions

on

the

movement of people and companies" in areas controlled by gangs (8). Extortion of smallscale farmers leads to the increased cost of food and results in the abandonment of land


109

(14). The relationship between a strong local

since there is an overall lack of employment in

economy

significant.

the country (Segovia, 2017, 3). The importing

environmental

of food, raw materials, and goods has

hazards, the rise of international food prices,

increased, preventing the fiscal spending of

and the dependency on the international

Salvadorians from being funneled back into

agricultural market fluctuations often result in

the local economy, instead, furthering support

resorting to crime and violence as extreme

of the American economy of goods (11). With

methods of survival (17). Subsistence farming

local spending supporting the American

and sustainable agricultural practices will

economy, the economy of El Salvador receives

prove to be a beneficial implementation for

less financial and community support, leaving

food access, the reduction of crime, and the

it more vulnerable.

and

Migration,

violence

is

uncontrollable

overall regeneration of the local economy.

Over a decade ago, the country

Access to food has increased due to a

experienced a significant loss of income to

growth in food imports and the expansion of

rural areas from the prolonged crisis in the

supermarkets in urban areas. The growth does

growth of coffee and the consequential

not equate to equal distribution and access to

impacts on agricultural production from

food for those in rural areas and those

unfavorable conditions of climate, such as

experiencing

floods, which resulted in a significant loss of

poverty.

It

should

be

acknowledged that the previously stated

agricultural production and income,

improvement since certain rural and urban

increasing the local rate of food insecurity and

areas have experienced a reduction in

poverty (IOM & WFP in Segovia, 2017, 3).

autonomy and the ability to purchase food


110

Eco agriculture and Subsistence Farming

practices, clear natural vegetation to construct

For a country with significant poverty

uniform fields of monoculture, resulting in

and biodiversity such as El Salvador, non-

excessive

agricultural sources of income rarely generate

therefore reducing food growth productivity

enough food to employ the number of people

(12). Biodiversity in farmland improves crop

required

resilience and health. Furthermore, increasing

to

alleviate

sweeping

poverty

pollution

the issue of access to land by rural families

requirement of agro-toxics, and meeting

living in poverty results in emigration and

subsistence demands. The overall decrease in

working on smaller plots of land (Segovia,

the use of agro-toxics and chemicals leads to

2007, 17). The reduced size is insufficient to

healthier soil and less likelihood of land

achieve the minimum household income

abandonment by farmers due to the longevity

required agriculture

refers

the to

food,

reducing

soil,

the

meet

of

compact

(McNeely and Scherr, 20 01, 9). Furthermore,

to

productivity

and

the

necessities.

Eco

of sustainable farming practices such as eco-

strengthening

the

agriculture.

ecosystem of wildlife in non-farmed areas of

LAND DEGRADATION IN EL SALVADOR

farmland and improving the habitat quality of

Subsistence Farming and Environmental Impacts

the

agricultural

landscapes

themselves

(McNeely and Scherr, 2001, 6). The practice of ecosystem management based agricultural practices positively benefits the conservation of biodiversity and the reduction of poverty. The

current

industrialized

agricultural

El Salvador is the most deforested country in Central America, with solely 2% of the forests remaining, and is highly populated (Hampshire in Dull, 319, 2008). It is critical to acknowledge that the population density of


111

the country contributes to the clearing of

industrialized agricultural practices (Wiebe,

forests, and subsistence farming, in general,

2003,

leads to requiring resources for building

productivity and the nutritional value of the

materials and fuel. Deforestation is not solely

food produced, impact food security through

part

its consequences on the number of food

of

the

post-colonial

economic

3).

Furthermore,

agricultural

transformation in El Salvador, but it is also a

supplies and the income of farmers (3).

pre-existing and present difficulty. Resource

Subsistence Farming and Land Degradation

requirements for subsistence farming cause

Subsistence farming has always played

environmental damages such as soil erosion,

a critical role in shaping the ecology of El

deforestation, and pollution of nearby water

Salvador. The commercialization of agriculture

sources (Ehrlich in Dull, 321, 2008). In

in El Salvador has reduced the abilities and

comparison to the modern industrialized

opportunities for subsistence farmers to make

farming practice in El Salvador, subsistence

a living due to limited access to land. The

farming

ownership of land has been monopolized by

is

an

increasingly

sustainable

agricultural practice.

bigger corporations, preventing small scale

Land Degradation

farmers from having a high chance of success,

Land degradation "refers to changes in

or holdings of property (Millner and Wilson,

the quality of soil, water, and other attributes

2017, 87). Local Salvadorian farmers cannot

that reduce the ability of the land to produce

keep up with corporate funding for large-scale

goods and services that are values by humans"

farming of crops, which use agro-toxics such

(Wiebe 2003, 4). Land degradation affects the

as, pesticides, and excessively large areas of

quality of food grown and the productivity of

natural land and resources (Sevilla Guzmán


112

and Woodgate, 2013, 37). An example of the

encompasses

exploitative industrial farming practices is

damaging ecological and social impacts of

sugarcane. Sugarcane is a traditional crop for

profit-based intense production (Millner and

the climate and cultural practices of El

Wilson, 2017, 85). The Permaculture Institute

Salvador however, it has been overproduced

of El Salvador (IPES) is a "sustainable

to the point of harmful health effects in

community development program that is

communities surrounding crops, long-term

working to improve the environment and the

damages to the land, detrimental impacts on

quality of life for the marginalized rural poor”

local potable water supply and finally, the

(Wilson,

maintenance of jobs for workers in rural areas

alternative food movement. IPES is a growing

(Wilson,

a

grassroots organization that gives agricultural

yet;

alternatives to subsistence farmers, even those

2007,

production

40).

lifespan

Sugarcane of

five

has

years,

the

2007,

2).

to

Permaculture

degradation on their farmland. The practice of

damaging chemicals and pesticides; leading

permaculture in El Salvador is related to the

to extreme soil deterioration and detrimental

regeneration of space for the Salvadorian right

health issues to the surrounding communities

to the agency of their food. As well, the

and its members.

movement brings forth a critique of the "top-

Permaculture and Land Degradation

down

interventions

land

and

agroecological

developments" present in the neoliberal

system designed as a sustainable alternative to

economy of El Salvador (Millner and Wilson,

industrial,

2017, 97). The practice of permaculture

agricultural

an

of

an

production to ten years through the use of

international

issues

is

who

is

severe

avoid

corporate farms are extending the duration of

Permaculture

experience

opportunity

practices

and


113

empowers

subsistence

farmers

to

be

allowing rural subsistence farmers to provide

conscious of food producers instead of

for their families and ensure the longevity of

consumers on international markets (Wilson

their crops against environmental threats.

2007, 17).

FOOD SECURITY IN EL SALVADOR

Environmental Resilience of Agriculture in El Salvador

Food Security and International Dependence

Due to its geographical location, El

The civil war led to a period in which El

Salvador is vulnerable to a wide range of

Salvador became increasingly dependent on

natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes,

the state of the United States economy,

and drought (Segovia, 2017, 2). The high

leading Salvadorians with less opportunity to

percentage of poverty does not aid the overall

rebuild

resilience of El Salvador as a country to not

independent from the foreign currency and

only economic fluctuations but environmental

economy. The duration of the civil war further

threats. The implementation of sustainable

led to a decreased amount of food production,

agricultural practices which have a heightened

a reduction in the household income, an

quality of biodiversity results in resilience. Soil

overall decrease in salaries, and the significant

becomes

through

displacement of communities and its members

agroecological practices, preventing loss of

(Segovia, 2017, V). Throughout this period,

topsoil, which is imperative to the health of

the relationships between “armed conflict and

crops, from erosion by water or wind (Wiebe,

food security were mediated and conditioned”

2003,

by the extensive assistance supplied by the

6).

more

nutrient-dense

Overall,

the

prioritization

of

biodiversity, aids agricultural productivity,

United

a

States,

sustainable

the

food

beginning

system

of

family


114

remittances, in which money is sent from

the local economy due to its enabling factors

Salvadorians who fled to the States, and the

for citizens to support and provide for

implementation

driven

themselves. In providing food for themselves

courses of action (V). The dependency on food

through subsistent agriculture, Salvadorians

from abroad, especially items such as basic

reduce their reliance on the United States

grains that hold great necessity, has resulted in

economy and other multinational investors.

of

economically

the country becoming increasingly vulnerable

The structure of the Salvadorian food

to market fluctuations affecting international

supply chain transitioned in function due to the

food prices (CONASAN in Segovia, 2017, 3).

local communities' members' reduction in

The

producing edible agriculture. Furthermore,

fluctuating

prices

can

make

food

availability and affordability unpredictable,

the

lessening the assurance Salvadorians will have

commencing commercial trade, and alteration

access to food.

in the population’s habits of consumption led

Food security is a sustainable method to ensure

and

eventually

improve

food

production and access in El Salvador. Food security means having access to healthy food,

admittance

of

foreign

currency,

to the exponential increase in food imports to El Salvador, led by (Segovia, 2017, 3). Food Security and Poverty in El Salvador Food insecurity affects approximately a

and as well, Millner refers to the importance of

third of Salvadorian households to different

remembering

and

degrees (Segovia, 2017, 6). Subsistence

maintain the good health of the soil and seeds

agricultural methods and practices allow

(2017, 775). As previously mentioned, food

those experiencing poverty, and in turn, are at

security functions concurrently with building

a higher risk of vulnerability to global price

ancestral

traditions


115

inconsistencies, to be confident in their

movement

access to food. By growing their food, farmers

commitment to re-inventing "power and

and rural citizens with access to land can

knowledge dynamics within the global food

ensure the basic necessities of nutrition and

system" (Millner, 2017, 767). It is also

prevention of hunger. Poverty and food

prominent in the works of La Via Campesina

insecurity are firmly linked (Segovia, 2017, 6).

(LVC). The movement of food justice combines

As well, as previously mentioned in the

knowledge from diverse world views and

section on land degradation, the unfavorable

experiences

geographical conditions of El Salvador make

globalization (Borras in Millner, 2017, 769).

the country at risk for prolonged droughts

LVC introduced food justice at the United

and floods (15). Prolonged droughts and

Nations World Food summit in 1996 as a form

floods can ruin the yearly supply of crop

of “agrarian citizenship” which demands rights

production, setting back small-scale

for Campesino farmers (Millner and Wilson,

Campesinos farmers detrimentally.

2017, 88). The goal for the movement of food

Food

security

communicate

of

a

political

neo-liberalization

and

influences

justice is to encourage healthy and balanced

farmer's practices, which impact land quality

eco-systems that refresh soil quality and

long term (Wiebe, 2003, 3). The acceptance of

biodiversity while fostering mutual aid and

agroecological

interdependency (Millner, 2017, 771).

encouragement

thereby

to

practices of

and

subsistence

the farming

education will allow for increased access to food in rural communities. Food justice is a term utilized in the Salvadoran permaculture


116

Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture Additionally,

and

The growth in demand for food

in

internationally has caused price fluctuation

previously guerilla- dominated areas of El

and insecurities of food purchasing for the

Salvador (Millner 2016 in Millner, 2017, 771).

citizens of El Salvador. For many people

The guerilla educational practices which

experiencing poverty and malnourishment,

influenced the revolutionary rebellion also

food security depends on income from

provided the infrastructure for agroecological

agriculture and, therefore, the quality and

Campesino to Campesino learning after the

productivity of food growth are imperative.

war ended (771). Suchitoto, El Salvador, was

The practices of monoculture result in land

an essential guerilla hub throughout the civil

degradation, which causes a lack of nutrients

war and currently manages the largest

in

permaculture education and demonstration

agricultural productivity and, thereby, food

site (771). Finally, food justice does not solely

security,

pertain to issues of poverty but connected to

sustainable practices in El Salvador. Social

environmental politics and practices. The

movements are working globally to combat

continuance

sustainable

neo-liberal ideologies within capitalism that

the

have

agroecology

agricultural

are

of

permaculture

CONCLUSION

the

most

mobilizing

practices

within

popular

local

the

soil.

Land

reinforcing

been

degradation

the

exploitative for

decades.

affects

necessity

to

for

agricultural

communities of El Salvador will further aid the

communities

Agroecologist

resilience of citizens, the economy, and the

farmers and scientists work collaboratively to

land.

defend local rural communities around the world, and agroecological practices against


117

the consequences of industrialized agriculture

international markets and investors while

(Sevilla Guzmán and Woodgate, 2013, 42).

ensuring

Sustainable

geographical

farming

practices

positively

environmental threats.

In

resilience

to

conclusion,

the

impact the local economy and culture of El

integration of subsistence farming into the

Salvador. Through encouraging the autonomy

local economy of El Salvador results in long-

of land and food, Salvadorians can rebuild the

term resilience, income, and health.

country to be resilient and interdependent. Educational practices are necessary for the dissemination of sustainable agriculture about biodiversity and overall land health. Regaining local

participation

of

youth

and

other

community members in El Salvador will aid the country in combating the exploitation of


118

Works Cited Dull, Robert A. 2008. "Unpacking El Salvador's ecological predicament: Theoretical templates and “long-view” ecologies." Global Environmental Change, 18 (2): 319-329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.03.002 McNeely, Jeffrey A., and Sara J. Scherr. 2001. "Common ground, common future: How ecoagriculture can help feed the world and save wild biodiversity." https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jeffrey_Mcneely/publication/251601612_Common_Gr ound_Common_Future_Using_Ecoagriculture_To_Raise_Food_Production_And_Conserve_ Wild_Biodiversity/links/00463529e587e4853c000000/Common-Ground-Common-FutureUsing-Ecoagriculture-To-Raise-Food-Production-And-Conserve-Wild-Biodiversity.pdf. Millner, Naomi. 2017. " “The right to food is nature too”: Food Justice and Everyday Environmental Expertise in the Salvadoran Permaculture Movement." Local Environment, 22 (6): 764-783. https://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2016.1272560. Millner, Naomi and Wilson, Marisa L. 2017. “Food Sovereignty, Permaculture and the Postcolonial Politics of Knowledge in El Salvador.” Postcolonialism, Indigeneity and Struggles for Food Sovereignty: Alternative Food Networks in Subaltern, 85-106. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Segovia, Alexander. 2017. “The Relationships Between Food Security, the Civil War and Widespread Violence,” The Relationships Between Food Security and Violence Conflicts: The Case of El Salvador, 10-18. Rome: FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper 17-07. Sevilla Guzmán, Eduardo, and Graham Woodgate. 2013. "Agroecology: Foundations in agrarian social thought and sociological theory." Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 37 (1): 32-44. https://doi.org/10.1080/10440046.2012.695763. Wiebe, Keith Daniel, ed. 2003. “Farmer Responses to Land Degradation.” Land quality, agricultural productivity, and food security: Biophysical processes and economic choices at local, regional, and global levels. United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. Wilson, Robyn Thiel. 2007. "Permaculture in El Salvador: An Alternative to Neoliberal Development." PhD dissertation, Northern Arizona University. http://ww.mountainmates.com/Documents/Permaculture%20in%20El%20Salvador.pdf


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While conjuring imagery and

fullest extent through critical debate and

associations commonly held in regard to the

argument that is conducted by the public, a

rap and hip-hop scene, it is unlikely that one

group separate from the state (Folami, 248).

would draw the conclusion that the rap scene

In modern society, it is often influential

and political scene are highly intertwined with

members of the public, such as these

one another. When examined through the

renowned rap/hip hop artists, that amplify

theoretical lens of Habermas and his concept

conversations and issues that should be

of the public sphere, the role that rap music

socially deliberated and critically debated by

artists play in modern society can be seen as

the public. An analysis of the political

not only the role of the entertainer, but also a

contributions made by hip hop and rap

political role, with artists doubling as social

groups and individual artists throughout the

activists and in turn making indispensable

history of the rap/hip hop genre will

contributions to the public sphere. The

ultimately verify that the hip hop/rap genre

concept of Habermas’s public sphere is

serves as a check against the government by

heavily based on the notion that political and

drawing attention to ignored systemic issues

social deliberation can only be realized to its

and creating a shared identity for minority


120

groups, specifically People of Colour. It will

able to be freely discussed and critiqued by

be evidenced that hip hop is crucial in

the public to determine whether state

providing a platform for voices of

decisions are fair and acceptable. Hip hop

marginalized groups that are historically and

can be seen as a place for production and

currently excluded from the traditional

circulation of discourse that is completely

democratic process and debate that takes

separate from the state, wherein artists and

place in the public sphere.

entertainers are able to voice concerns and

Habermas defines the public sphere as

issues apparent in oppressed communities

“a social space existing between the state and

through imagery in music videos, lyrics,

private realm of civil society in which private

production choices that serve as public

individuals come together and through the

displays of their solidarity with marginalized

process of rational debate, contribute to the

groups.

formation of critical public opinion”

While some argue that the rap and hip-

(Compton, 2020). Within this definition, two

hop genre makes little contribution to overall

key concepts that Habermas emphasizes are

society due to its stereotypes of being overly

firstly, that within this discursive space,

commodified, misogynistic and focused on a

individuals come together to serve as a check

lifestyle of drugs and violence (Dawkins,

to the government and secondly, that

1998), when analysed critically it can be seen

individuals see themselves as having a shared

as a valuable social and political contributor

identity. The public sphere is seen as an area

that has influenced and invoked monumental

completely separate from the state, therefore

positive social change and awareness. The

decisions and laws outlined by the state are

rap/hip hop genre can be seen as a valuable


121

contributor to social change, political change

injustices that were being ignored by the

and the overall public sphere not only in

state, specifically highlighting discriminatory

current items, but also in pivotal historical

legislation such as Jim Crow Laws and

social movements such as the Civil Rights

segregation.

Movement of the 1950s and 60s. During the

Rap and hip-hop sound didn’t fully

civil rights movement, the genre of rhythm

break into the mainstream until the very late

and blues, an influential precursor to rap and

70s, and with the emergence of this genre

hip hop, was highly utilized as a form of social

came an emergence of political activism

commentary on the African American

regarding racial injustice. As the genre

struggle for liberation at this time (Folami,

gained traction and commercial success in

2007). Gospel music and rhythm and blues

the US, many new rap groups such as Run-

were used as a form of peaceful protest, as

DMC, Public Enemy and N.W.A. used their

activists would march and sing to respectfully

newfound platform to speak out on racial

protest and call attention to social issues as

issues and systemic criticisms. Run-DMC is

opposed to turning to violence and rioting

understood to be the originating group for

(Folami, 2007). From the viewpoint of

the incorporation of social commentary into

Habermas and the public sphere, this can be

the rap/hip hop genre (Dyson, 1991). Run-

seen as not only a form of protest, but a form

DMC’s album Raising Hell uses samples

of contribution to the public sphere. African

drawn from inner city communities in various

American citizens used music to attempt to

tracks which play behind lyrics making

enter the conversation of the public sphere,

commentary on the racism, classism and

voicing their opinions and expressing social

social neglect that was heavily experienced by


122

African American communities at the time

African American community and declared

(Dyson, 1991). Through using these samples

that the rap genre was “Black America’s CNN”

and lyrical themes, Run-DMC made important

(Falomi, 2007). This statement is crucial when

contributions to the public sphere through

examining the history of this genre through

their music, using their platform to make the

the lens of Habermas’s public sphere.

first initial steps to bring issues of African

Through stating their group is the ‘Black

American communities to light. They served

America’s CNN’, Public Enemy insinuated that

as a vessel of communication for people of

the rap genre is used as a platform to expose

these communities whose voices were often

and promote conversation surrounding social

unheard or suppressed by the state to

issues occurring in African American

communicate issues and equalities - serving

communities that were not highlighted by

as a check and message to the government

mainstream media such as black history and

conveying that the inequality must be

black political theory. They willingly took on

acknowledged.

the role of being a political actor and

Once Run-DMC opened the door for

spokesperson for African American

the rap/hip hop genre to double as a platform

communities in the public sphere, creating a

for political activism, other groups such as

framework from their personal point of view

Public Enemy and N.W.A followed suit, using

and experiences to contribute to the public

their music as a form of social commentary

deliberation and discussion surrounding

and place for political deliberation. Public

issues of the African American community.

Enemy publicly claimed their goal as a group was to inspire African American leaders in the

The 80s rap group N.W.A is seen as the rap/hip hop group that began the public


123

political conversation about the systemic

investigation to determine the truth and

issue of police brutality which is continued to

accuracy of the statements made in this track

be discussed in modern rap/hip hop music by

(Bonnette, 2015). NWA’s use of the rap/hip

modern rap artists. (Bonnette, 2015). NWA’s

hop genre as a platform for the discussion of

release of their album Straight Outta

political and social issues resulted in the

Compton in 1988 was pivotal in publicizing

government and state authorities being

the issue of police brutality in African

forced to begin to acknowledge these

American communities that has historically

systemic issues publicly, thus acting as a

been overlooked and uncovered by

check to the government through being an

mainstream media. The track “F the Police”

actor within the public sphere.

from this album highlights these issues and

Donald Glover, who performs under

experiences through stating, “cause I'm

the artist’s name Childish Gambino, released

brown/ And not the other color so police

a track and video titled “This is America”

think /They have the authority to kill a

which can be seen as a valuable contribution

minority… Searchin' my car, lookin' for the

to the ongoing social and political debate

product / Thinkin' every n**** is sellin'

surrounding gun violence and police brutality

narcotics” (N.W.A., 1988). N.W.A.’s discourse

in the United States. Donald Glover’s music

and political discussion can be seen as a

video can be seen as a politically driven piece

successful check to the government, as it

of work, and it is argued that he consciously

received attention from various police

uses this music video as a political platform to

departments as well as the CIA - the publicity

protest the modern political and social

of this song demanded there be an

climate of the US (Grogan, 2019). Donald


124

Glover uses the choreography in his video for

detail can be seen as an amplification of an

this track as symbolism for historical issues of

event that received little coverage by the

racial segregation in America, repeatedly

mass media - through having various cars of

contorting his body to mimic the figure of Jim

the same make surrounding the car he stands

Crow particularly at the beginning of the

on, Glover sends the message that there is a

music video when he contorts his body and

multitude of events identical to that of

shoots and African American man in the back

Philando Castile, of stereotyping and police

of the head (Cookney, 2018).

brutality, that are not being acknowledged.

Additional social commentary on

He is displaying solidarity with this

current systemic issues in the US is made

community, thus creating an amplified and

within this video when Donald Glover is seen

shared identity of the African American

dancing on a car similar to the make and

community and criticizing government action

model of 1997 Oldsmobile, surrounded by

in the public sphere.

various other cars appearing to have similar

Through the visuals in Glover’s video,

make and model. This has been seen as a

specifically the Car Scene, he demands the

reference and political statement regarding

public’s attention towards current action by

the murder of Philando Castile, an African

the state that is occurring as a result of deeply

American man who was pulled over while

rooted systemic racism. This scene is a check

driving a 1997 Oldsmobile without reason

to state activity and the government, Glover

and murdered by an American police officer

uses his platform and music to bring often

(Grogan, 2019). From the viewpoint of

suppressed issues into the mainstream

Habermas and the public sphere, this specific

media. Since many mainstream media outlets


125

would not frame events such as the murder of

Similar to “This is America”, the release

Philando Castile in a way that places the

of Beyonce’s “Formation” can be seen as a

entirety of the blame on the failed system of

political commentary on police brutality and

policing in the United States, Glover takes this

the murder of African American citizens.

action into his own hands and uses his

Beyonce strategically released her

platform to enter this discussion into the

“Formation” music video during Black History

public sphere. Glover’s music video

Month, likely to make contributions to the

generated an extensive public debate on

public discussion that occurs during this time

these issues, thus successfully contributing to

on past and current racial issues and

the deliberation of the public sphere through

discriminations in the United States. The

the use of the rap/hip hop genre. Glover uses

video opens with Beyonce sitting in a police

his artistic platform and large following to

car filled with water as the line is delivered,

amplify the voices of African Americans, an

“what happened in New Orleans?”, a

extremely marginalized group in the US. He

statement that has been seen as a reference

brings social issues that are constantly

to how African American communities were

occurring in African American communities to

disadvantaged after the flooding of New

the foreground of the media, creating a large

Orleans post Hurricane Katrina (Polackova,

impact on the public sphere as these are

2019). Through delivering this visual

stories and voices that have traditionally been

alongside the lyric, Beyonce is calling

ignored and suppressed by mainstream

attention to the suppressed issues of the

media.

African American community, expressing how the government has failed to provide support


126

for victims of the hurricane. At the end of the

is apparent in the US judicial system and

Formation music video, a young boy dressed

police force. She takes on the role of the

in a hoodie dances in front of policemen in

political actor in the public sphere, amplifying

combat gear. A social and political analysis of

the issues of African American communities

the Formation video determined that this was

and reframing this issue from the way that it

a reference to the shooting of Trayvon Martin,

was presented through mainstream media

a young boy shot and murdered without

which removed much of the blame from the

reason due to alleged suspicious apparel by a

US policing system.

white citizen, George Zimmerman, who was

Through an application of Habermas’s

never convicted (Polackova, 2019). In

concepts of the public sphere to the hip

referencing this highly controversial event,

hop/rap music genre, it is clear that this genre

Beyonce is purposefully using her platform to

is crucial to the modern public sphere by

contribute to the ongoing public debate

serving as a check against government

surrounding the state action, or lack thereof,

activity and creating a shared identity through

surrounding the racial stereotyping and

consistently amplifying the voices of

racially driven violence that is heavily

marginalized racial and social groups in

concentrated in African American

public debate. 80s rap groups such as Run-

communities in the US. She dresses the actor

DMC, Public Enemy and N.W.A. opened the

in her video depicting Trayvon in the same

door for rap/hip hop artists to use the genre

typical, non-threatening apparel he was

as a political platform to make valuable

wearing when he was targeted and shot by to

contributions and invoke discussions

serve as a critique on the systemic racism that

regarding often oppressed social and


127

political issues in the public sphere. As a

for the purpose of consensus as outlined by

result of this instigation, modern rap artists

Habermas.

have been able to build on their initial issues and continue to provide political commentary on the current state of society through modern rap/hip hop music. Through current artists such as Donald Glover and Beyonce drawing parallels between their artistic visuals and current social injustices, they provide an alternative framework for events in opposition of mainstream media. Current rap/hip hop artists have created and utilized an important political platform wherein experiences and issues of minority groups can be disseminated and amplified from their point of view. Through doing so, these artists have made continuous impactful contributions to the modern public sphere. The alternative framework these artists create of presenting information from the minority point of view can be seen as a direct reflection of their involvement in the political and social debate


128

Works Cited Bonnette, L. M. (2015). Pulse of the People Political Rap Music and Black Politics. University of Pennsylvania Press. 0812291131 Compton, James. (2020, September 14). Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. [Lecture]. MIT 3100 Information in the Public Sphere, London Ontario. Cookney, D., & Fairclough, K. (2018). Childish Gambino: This is America uses Music and Dance to Expose Society's Dark Underbelly. The Conversation, 1-5. USIR. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/50678/1/Childish%20Gambino_%20This%20is%20A merica%20uses%20music%20and%20dance%20to%20expose%20society%27s%20dark%2 0underbelly.pdf Dawkins, M. A. (1998, Fall). Voices Undergroup: Hip Hop as Black Rhetoric. The Literary Griot, 10(2), 61-85. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from http://www.marciadawkins.com/sites/all/r/pdf/HH_Blk_Rht_Dawkins.pdf Dyson, M. E. (1991, Spring). Performance, Protest and Prophecy in the Culture of Hip-Hop. Black Sacred Music, 5(1), 12-25. Duke University Press. 1043 9433 Folami, A. N. (2007). From Habermas to "Get Rich or Die Tryin": Hip Hop, The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Black Public Sphere. Michigan Journal of Race and Law, 12(2), 235-304. HeinOnline Law Journal Library. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/mjrl12&id=243&collection=journal s&index=# Grogan, B. E. (2019). 0RW1S34RfeSDcfkexd09rT2This is america1RW1S34RfeSDcfkexd09rT2: Symbolism and imagery in the musical work of childish gambino (Order No. 13861153). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global; Publicly Available Content Database. (2308216318). Retrieved from https://www.lib.uwo.ca/cgi-bin/ezpauthn.cgi? url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/2308216318?accountid=15115 N.W.A. (1988) F tha Police [Recorded by Ice Cube, MC Ren and the D.O.C (N.W.A.)] on Straight Outta Compton. Compton, California: Ruthless Records Polackova, P. (2019). "This is America": Racism and Violence in Modern Music Videos. Masaryk University, 1-48. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://is.muni.cz/th/rvhlr/BA_thesis_copy_Polackova_final.pdf Thompson, J. B. (1993). The Theory of the Public Sphere. Theory, Culture and Society, 10, 173-189. SAGE. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/026327693010003008


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Social networking sites are becoming

Nick Srnicek. This term refers to the

increasingly intertwined with the lives of most

involvement of large platform companies in

individuals in society. Sites such as Instagram

politics and the economy as a result of their

make it effortless to interact with friends and

powerful accumulation of user data. Platform

family online, follow the actions of the latest

capitalism can be understood through the

celebrities or our favourite brands and share

analysis of relevant platform companies in our

personal photos to an account or story. These

current society. My interactions with the social

interactions between users, businesses and

networking site Instagram subject me to a loss

advertisers on the app are a result of

of privacy in the form of complex data

Instagram’s business model as a digital

extraction and targeted advertisements,

platform. A platform can be understood as an

ultimately illustrating Instagram’s role as a

online space that allows various groups to

highly powerful and profitable advertising

interact with each other. The economic and

platform in the capitalist economy. It is useful

political power of platform companies is

to note that Instagram is owned by Facebook,

reliant on consumer data rather than

one of the most powerful technology

manufacturing power, indicating a shift into a

companies in the market. I will be examining

new era of capitalism that is explained as

Instagram’s methods of data extraction and

Platform Capitalism by political economist

determining what sort of data that Instagram


130

is interested in collecting from users. Further,

agreeing to the app’s policies prior to even

I will be focusing on Instagram’s use of

creating a profile.

consumer data to formulate targeted

Instagram admits to extracting

advertisements and increase their

information about users relative to their usage

profitability. Finally, I will be relating these

of the app, cookie information stored on their

elements of Instagram’s business strategy to

device, financial information and their

their role as a powerful platform company in

metadata (Instagram 2020). This knowledge

the digital economy.

should not be surprising as Instagram exists

The profitability of platform companies

as a way for various groups to interact with

is dependent on their ability to collect user

each other through the sharing of data on the

data. In most cases, platform users make it

app. This means that by liking photos, looking

extremely easy for companies to achieve this

up our favourite influencers and clicking on

goal. Instagram requires users to accept their

links or hashtags we are simultaneously

privacy policy prior to using their app.

providing information to Instagram.

However, users very rarely actually read the

Instagram is also very interested in the

entire document. In a study conducted by

location data of their users. Although this may

communications researchers, 97% of people

seem intrusive, it is necessary to deliver the

sampled agreed to the privacy policy without

personalized experience that people expect

actually reading it (Obar and Oeldorf-Hirsch

when using the Instagram app. For example,

2016, 21). This explains how Instagram is able

users often see advertisements and posts

to access huge amounts of data- users

targeted to them on their explore page based

authorize their own loss of privacy by

on their location. This could include new


131

cafes, clothing stores or profiles of users that

to sort it into categories and norms, to render

live in close proximity. Instagram explains that

it legible and observable” (Sadowski 2019).

this is possible due to “location-related

Instagram uses complex algorithms to store

information-such as your current location,

user data and eventually use it to improve the

where you live, the places you like to go, and

functioning of their site, communicate with

the businesses and people you're near-to”

third parties and target advertisements to

(Instagram 2020). This data comes from

their users. This data collection ultimately

location tags that users have associated with

allows them to increase their profitability and

their posts, the IP address of the user’s device

exert power in the political economy.

and the nearby accounts that users interact

Instagram’s success as a platform in the

with. This location information in addition to

digital economy is reliant on the concept of

general usage information allows Instagram

the “network effect”. This effect refers to the

to build a comprehensive profile of each user

idea that when the number of platform users

on the site.

increases, the value of the platform also

Instagram’s collection of user data is

increases (Srnicek 2017, 45). Logically, more

essential to their operation as a capitalist

people will be inclined to use the Instagram

enterprise in the digital economy. A

app if their friends and family are also using

researcher studying data and society explains

the app. Therefore, if Instagram has a larger

that one of the most effective ways to increase

network of users, they will have access to

power as a corporation is to ‘know’ the world,

more user information. This data will

referring specifically to analysis of collected

theoretically allow Instagram to make

data: “examine its features and characteristics,

intelligent political and business decisions


132

because they understand the motivations and

2017, 24). This is true in terms of Instagram's

interests of their 1 billion monthly users

constant data collection for the purposes of

(Clement 2020), making them a powerful

their own success at a capitalist enterprise.

actor in our capitalist society.

For this reason, I am a valuable component of

It is important to understand that data

Instagram’s business model. I am a source of

pertaining to an individual’s usage of the

data that Instagram is able to extract and use

Instagram app can provide a very accurate

for their own benefit.

glimpse into someone’s life, alluding to

Instagram mobilizes the user data that

information regarding their “identities,

they have collected by formulating

beliefs, behaviours, and other personal

advertisements that are specifically targeted

information” (Sadowski 2019). I use Instagram

to the behaviours, interests and beliefs of

very regularly, and I have noticed that the

each Instagram user. Instagram’s photo-

accounts and advertisements that are

sharing structure allows for advertisements to

recommended to me contain information

be displayed in a more natural way.

relating to my political beliefs, interest in diet

Advertisements subtly appear on users’

and exercise, my part time job as a lifeguard

timelines or stories without looking out of

and my struggles as a University student.

place. This business strategy is aligned with

Instagram has clearly built a detailed profile

the priorities of most capitalist enterprises

about myself through studying my usage of

who aim to “constantly seek out new avenues

the app. Nick Srnicek explains this idea in his

for profit” (Srnicek 2107, 3). By allowing other

book, stating that “the more data one has, the

businesses to pay to have their

more uses one can make of them” (Srincek

advertisements promoted on the Instagram


133

app, Instagram effectively increases their

In an effort to better understand the

profits. In fact, paid advertising accounts for

profile that Instagram created about me I

98% of the combined revenue of Instagram

looked into my Instagram settings for relevant

and Facebook (Simon 2020), making

privacy and data collection information. I

Instagram an extremely successful advertising

learned that Instagram provides a list of

platform. This advertising success ultimately

advertising interests specific to my profile,

hinges on their ability to accurately target

and that they were almost all extremely

advertisements to the right user groups.

accurate. Most related to my general

Instagram does this by focusing on the

interests: ‘physical fitness’, ‘recipes’, ‘travel’

detailed profiles created with user data that I

and ‘sports’ but some were incredibly specific

referenced earlier. For example, Instagram

to my recent activity: ‘half-marathon’,

uses cookie data from a user’s device in order

‘internship’ or ‘Hamilton, ON’. Although I was

to create targeted ad interests (Instagram

previously aware that Instagram collected

2020). This means that if I were to google

data relating to my usage behaviours, I was

“flights to Hawaii” on my device, I would most

not aware of how accurate their

likely start to see travel advertisements on my

understanding of my personality really was.

Instagram page. This also applies to my

My recent participation in a local half-

actions on the Instagram app- searching for

marathon, zoom call about a potential

workout videos or healthy meal ideas will

internship and brunch at a Hamilton diner

result in receiving advertisements relating to

were all recorded in the Instagram app and

health and fitness brands.

being used to target advertisements at my profile. It is clear that my use of the Instagram


134

app positions me as an advertising target for

However, in spite of these claims

brands relating to health and fitness, food,

promising data security, there have been

recipes and world travel.

various issues that have occurred in the past

Instagram’s access to this large volume

jeopardizing the privacy of Instagram users.

of data requires them to ensure that user

We can look to an issue that occurred in 2019

privacy is protected. Their privacy policy

where Instagram admitted that a security

promises that they do not share any personal

vulnerability could potentially result in users'

information with advertisers or other third-

names, usernames, phone numbers and

party companies (Instagram 2020). Instead,

email addresses being leaked (Doffman

they share information surrounding metadata

2019). This issue has since been resolved but

they collect from users. This is often referred

highlights the potential for data exploitation

to as “data about data” and includes

when using social networking platforms.

information such as: the time that users log

There is never a guarantee that the

into their Instagram account, if they swipe up

information that we provide to Instagram is

on an advertisement, how many posts they

completely private.

like, how far down the timeline they scroll, or

Ultimately, this lack of privacy that

when they post the most photos. This allows

accompanies our use of social media sites is a

Instagram to provide valuable information to

natural consequence of platform capitalism. It

other companies without revealing any

is almost impossible to extract such large

vulnerable data that will identify specific

amounts of user data without raising privacy

users.

concerns. A researcher in the discipline of media and society suggests that we may


135

“actually stifle personal privacy and

consideration of the detailed profile

autonomy” in pursuit of expanding

Instagram has built concerning my

technological market capitalization (Silverman

behaviours, beliefs and interests, I have

2017). If we continue to rely on social media

determined that Instagram may know me

platforms such as Instagram, we must accept

better than my friends and family. Although

that we are willingly abandoning our own

reminiscent of a science fiction movie, I

privacy rights.

understand that this data extraction is a key

My use of the Instagram app makes me

component of platform capitalism and I have

a necessary component in Instagram's

accepted the loss of privacy that results from

commercial logic as an advertising platform.

my involvement in this economic system. My

Instagram is able to access data concerning

willingness to provide my own data to a large

my usage of the app, location information and

corporation makes me a pawn in the larger

metadata which encourages their economic

agenda of technology corporations to

growth. This data can be used to determine

continue their expansion in the economy and

what advertisements will be most aligned with

increase society’s dependence on social

my interests in order to guarantee accuracy

media platforms.

when Instagram promotes paid advertisements for third party companies. In


136

Works Cited Clement, J. 2020. “Instagram: Age Distribution of Global Audiences 2020.” Statista, October 29, 2020. https://www.statista.com/statistics/325587/instagram-global-age-group/. Doffman, Zak. 2019. “Instagram Confirms Security Issue Exposed User Accounts And Phone Numbers-Exclusive.” Forbes Magazine, September 12, 2019 https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/09/12/new-instagram-hack-exclusivefacebook-confirms-user-accounts-and-phone-numbers-at-risk/?sh=2f34dcfb2200. Instagram. 2020. “Instagram Help Center.” Data Policy | Instagram Help Center. August 21, 2020. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://help.instagram.com/519522125107875. Obar, Jonathan A., and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch. 2016. “The Biggest Lie on the Internet: Ignoring the Privacy Policies and Terms of Service Policies of Social Networking Services.” SSRN Electronic Journal, April 2, 2016, 21–21. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2757465. Sadowski, Jathan. 2019. “When Data Is Capital: Datafication, Accumulation, and Extraction.” Big Data & Society 6, no. 1 (January 7, 2019): 205395171882054. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951718820549. Silverman, Jacob. 2017. "Privacy Under Surveillance Capitalism." Social Research 84 (1) (Spring): 147-164 https://www-lib-uwo-ca.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/cgi bin/ezpauthn.cgi?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/docview/1985655173? accountid=15115. Simon, Ellen. 2020. “How Instagram Makes Money.” Investopedia. Investopedia, May 29, 2020. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/030915/how-instagram-makesmoney.asp. Srnicek, Nick. 2017. Platform Capitalism. United Kingdom: Polity Press, 2017.


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thank you


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