Is the Old Spice Guy good for black America?
Old Spice's viral TV ads have turned black spokesperson Isaiah Mustafa into a star. Will his breakthrough success benefit other African-American men?posted on July 22, 2010, at 3:49 PM
There's no question that Old Spice's current marketing campaign has transformed Isaiah Mustafa, the award-winning ads' hypnotically charismatic black spokesperson, into a pop-culture icon. Nearly 100 million viewers have watched him chastise unmanly men and straddle horses on YouTube. The ads have also earned Mustafa, a former NFL player who'd had bit parts on shows like "Ugly Betty," a lead role in a Tyler Perry movie and a talent deal with NBC. But will the prominence of a black Old Spice Guy have spin-off benefits for other African-American men? (Watch the Old Spice Guy's farewell.)
Yes, the campaign is a big step forward: Not long ago, black men had two possible roles in advertising: "Violent savage or passive, simple-minded gofers," says Cord Jefferson in The Root. "A muscular black man addressing America's 'ladies'—not just black ladies, but all ladies—in a sexualized tone could have gotten him killed." This sophisticated, intelligent Old Spice Guy throws such notions out the window (from "Why the Old Spice Guy is good for Black America" @ TheRoot.com).
Mustafa is good for America, period: There is something affirmatively "post-racial" about the casting of a black man (with a Muslim name, no less) as a mainstream sex symbol, says Tricia Romano in The Daily Beast. "One could argue that having a handsome black president has softened a lot of people’s ideas... Obama’s shaky polls notwithstanding." Let's hope Mustafa paves the way for greater diversity in pop culture (from "The Old Spice Man's internet triumph" @ TheDailyBeast.com).
First of all, DO. NOT. READ. SOURCE COMMENTS. Summary: "BAW Y DO POC/WHITE LIBRULS BRING UP RACE ALL THE TIME BAWW". Just don't.
Of all the blog analysis excerpts features in the article, I'm only really comfortable with the insights offered from Jezebel (read the full version), even if I still disagree with a few points. The other two fall for the whole Post-Racial America™ trope that glosses over still-relevant and complicated issues with regard to contemporary racial (VARIOUS racial) representation/characterization in advertising/TV. Let's flesh out why we agree or disagree with the premise that the Old Spice ads have opened up the doors for minorities on TV.