Culture Jam Assignment

Original Advertisement:

The advertisement was used to introduce the “Teen Family Series” fashion line in the spring by the Hong Kong brand, Giordano. The advertisement depicts an image of a happy and stable family taking a quick picture to keep as a souvenir before they head out together to spend family time in the sun. There is not much controversy about the people themselves other than the idea of a “perfect family” lies in having a female mother, male father, a son, and a daughter – or that all of the characters in the image are slender and visually appealing with pale skin. That being said, the problem I want to focus on is the words that are printed on the shirts of each family member. Especially the blatantly sexist ones of the maternal and paternal figures.

The words on the front of the shirts clearly depict the roles that each family member plays. For example, the shirt on the youngest child of the family says, “Cry,” which states that the job of the child is simply to cry. Furthermore, the eldest child wears a shirt with “Play” written on it as if it is that particular child’s role to play, despite the whole family being out together. However, the main issue arises with the father and mother and their respective shirts. While the father’s shirt says, “Work,” with a golden dollar sign on it, the mother is wearing one that says, “Cook.” The advertisement adheres to the traditional gender roles of the man being the main contributor of the household income while the woman does all the housework, including cooking. The problem is that Giordano, a large clothing brand with many customers, creates a narrow structure that sets in stone what role each family member must play. A woman is reduced to her cooking status – which is a type of work – and a man to his work, while the children are relegated to crying and playing.

Jammed Advertisement:

In the jammed version of the advertisement, the words on the shirts have all been replaced with what should be the true meaning behind family time. The most ideal family should be about acceptance and love for the people as they are without having to focus on what each person is doing. That is why I placed a statement to the left side of the image so that viewers do not misunderstand that the value of family has more to do than the physical appearance. Following this idea, I also lengthened the hair of the person who used to be the father in the original advertisement to create a sense of gender ambiguity. I also made the mother’s face shape rounder. Ultimately, my goal was to make the point that families do not have to follow a certain structure – especially not a structure that relies on a very restricted idea of perfection.

Advertisement and marketing often rely on stereotypes and traditional/cultural beliefs that make things easier for viewers to understand without having to put much thought into it, but also end up contributing to maintaining a set of values that might actually hurt a group of people. In the original image by Giordano, it borrows heavily on the heterosexual family unit of four and the production factor that each member brings to the family: working, cooking, crying, and playing. Through this assignment, I wanted to show that the idea of family can be achieved by spending time and being with one another. Perhaps the shirts that I re-designed might not do very well in terms of sales, but I think getting the meaning of family clear is more important than profit.