Snarky Stock Photo Analysis…or Recycling Racism for Cool Points?

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

In browsing the Adrants blog, I came across a mini-rant on why stock photography blows.

As a person who uses/dabbles in stock photography, I was intrigued. I follow the original adrants link, and end up at this page.

The first thing that pops up is a random stock image from a random telecom company. The blog owner comments:

Finally,” I thought to myself, “a site that sells chubby black women.”

Hmm…

I browse around the site a bit. This guy appears to bill himself as a snarky asshole with snarky commentary, so his writing is in keeping with the tone of the blog. Reasonably assured that this was meant to be satrical, I continued to read.

2. Hot curly haired black women go moist for wireless broadband routers and mainframes.

Possibly the first and only cliche in history I’ve wanted to bang, curly-haired black women are the preferred marketing tool to sell obscure telecom products and telephone services so long as their skin tone isn’t too dark. She should be dark enough to score that hip diversity dollar, but not so dark as to scare away that heartland racist dollar.

Now I’m mildly disturbed by the crude sex references and apparent race (and hair type) fetish, but he is making a valid point about racial preferences in advertising. I snicker at the fairly inspired Microsoft comparison below it, and keep skimming.

Then I get to:

4.

At least 1 in 3 people chosen at random will necessarily be “African American,” even though only 13% of the US population is black.

When a corporation claims to be diverse, what they really mean is that they hire black people, asians, and a latino every now and then. There is no image more meticulously engineered in this world than that of a corporation’s statement on “diversity.”

For example, the energy company Entergy states on its website that the cornerstone of their corporate culture is:

“respect … for every individual regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or any other cultural factor. “Tolerance” is insufficient in this organization that values differences… ”

Entergy should be commended for having the courage to go beyond simply “tolerating” different races by treating them with respect, because it is assumed that other races are not treated with respect unless a corporation explicitly states that they do on their website. The world needs more companies willing to follow Entergy’s bold leadership by doing more than just tolerating other races.

Again, good points are made here. The random forced diversity is pretty telling (though I must admit, a bit easy for me to forget living in Chocolate City.)
Same thing with the whole “tolerence” bit.

Still, finishing the piece, I was vaguely unsettled. I don’t know what is rubbing me wrong about the piece (mouth-raping comments aside) and its treatment/discussion of race, but something about it disturbs me. I can’t quite put my finger on it…

What also disturbs me is that this piece is intended to be satirical, and it plays up to this by using multiple references to sex (and lube), a bit of fetish, and a bit of stereotype…and yet AdRants is acting like this is the gospel?

From the mouths of AdRants:

Now we have “9 things I learned about the world according to anonymous stock photo models.” From creepy parents to “curly haired black women ‘going moist’ for wireless broadband routers” to “People who sit in cramped cubicles answering customer service calls in drab corporate call centers are overjoyed to help fix your DSL modem” to the over representation of African Americans to stupid laptop poses to “Random-ass white dudes should be placed all over your corporate website for no fucking reason,” this site cuts through all the crap and tells it like it is. Check it our [sic] before you choose your next stock photo.