Us and Them

by Guest Contributor Missives from Marx originally published at Sociological Images

A month or two ago I commented on the New York Times Upfront magazine for high school kids. I recently came across their latest, which features a cover story titled “What We Eat.” The story is really just an interesting collection of photographs of families from nations all over the world, but with each family sitting with all the food in their house, like this family from Kuwait:

kuwait1

However, although the title of the article inside the magazine is “What We Eat,” the title listed on the cover of the magazine is “What They Eat.” The picture selected for the cover is not one of the family photos, but is, instead, a photo apparently selected to elicit the maximum negative visceral response possible from American kids:

what they eat

So the cover separates an “us” and a “them,” and shows the American high school students how gross and weird “they” are.

Check out the issue that preceded this one by just two or three weeks:

gun

Here American high school students learn that people around the world with dark skin are violent, dirty, and poorly dressed.

No wonder American kids grow up to be American adults whose voting habits reflect the view that American foreign policy should be paternalistic.

Note from Sociological Images:

This reminds me of some of Catherine Lutz’s and Jane Collins’s arguments in their book Reading National Geographic, in which show how that magazine represents other cultures in ways that reinforce the idea of the non-Western world as the Other. These images would be a useful accompaniment to the book and a discussion of how we represent people from other countries and what those representations justify, obscure, or challenge.

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