Giselle Hidalgo's Culture Jam Blog

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1. Original Ad- “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”

2. Analysis of the Original Ad – “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”

This ad that appeared in the British H&M online store scandalized the world with its racist message. The ad was later removed when the company apologized and claimed to have made an unintentional mistake. However, the propaganda already demonstrated the internalized and externalized dehumanization that people of colour continue to face.

The photo advertises a boy with a hoodie that reads “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” This message and its connotations are outwardly racist. First of all, it perpetuates the idea that people of colour are somehow less than human. This concept brought by defenders of social Darwinism was used to justify the violence, rape, and murder of thousands of people during colonization.

In addition, this hoodie creates an analogy between a boy of colour and an animal in a habitat of nature. This can be seen through the use of the word “monkey” and the colour of green that symbolizes nature. This once again demonstrates the violence that people of colour experience, as nature is constantly being perceived as object of conquest by human beings that can be destroyed and wrecked without significant ramifications. This symbolism reiterates the aggression that people of colour continue to experience today in ways such as police brutality. Humans continue to destroy the “natural” through pollution, logging, extraction, and radioactive waste. In the same way, people of colour continue to be murdered in the street by police officials.

In addition, this advertisement also portrays the consumerist idea that adhering to the system and purchasing this product will somehow make them the “coolest”. H&M is perpetuating an idea of passiveness and acceptance to the cruelty that people of colour experience in many Western capitalist societies around the world. This message conveys the consumerist idea that somehow by purchasing this sweater and being proud of this “animalistic” perception of themselves, they will be happier. This is of course a fallacy, as buying things that perpetuate messages of violence will prolong the effects of racism around the world.

3. Jammed Version of the Ad – “Prince T’Challa”

4. Explanation of Jamming Philosophy

This new version of the ad contains a message that speaks out against oppression of people of colour in a way that is appropriate for children. Prince T’Challa is a character created by Marvel Comics that has had a great success with its recent movie by Marvel Studios, The Black Panther. This also references the political movement that took place during the civil rights era that strived to promote black rights.

In addition, the character of T’Challa gives children someone to look up to as he represents compassion, justice, respect, love, and bravery. T’Challa comes from a fictional African nation, Wakanada, which has been untouched by colonization and thrives above all nations. This creates an argument for the way in which colonization, and not culture or the people themselves, is responsible for the status of impoverishment in many African countries. Although the model from this photo is probably not African, the world continues to make that correlation because of the colour of his skin. However, Attaching T’Challa’s name will at least shift the perception of many people and bring a new meaning to being associated with that historical and cultural context.

In choosing to combine T’Challa’s character in The Black Panther as well as in incorporating the black fist, the hoodie is now a symbol of a resistance movement that can be accessible to children as well. In this way, children of colour can become conscious that the way the world perceives them is a fallacy and that they must not adhere or submissively accept this. This stops their dehumanization and their social Darwinist comparison to the wild. Instead, it creates a form of inspiration, empowerment, and resistance through T’Challa’s principles of love, compassion, and respect.


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