Tag Archives: product

Martha Stewart, Playing with “Indian” Names?

by guest contributor BB, originally published at Brady Braves

Well, this was a rare moment: a story on Indianz.com involving Martha Stewart. She has a place (i.e., 153-acre estate purchased in 2000 for the trifling cost of $16 million) in Katonah, NY. Now, Stewart wants to trademark “Katonah” for some of her products. Never mind if Katonah residents (of the Village Improvement Society in Katonah) are not pleased. Never mind if today’s descendants of Chief Katonah of the Lenape Nation are not pleased. As reported by Jim Fitzgerald, AP, Diana Pearson, a Stewart spokesperson, says Stewart “seeks to honor the town and the hamlet by using the word `Katonah.’”

And I suppose the Hornell Brewing Company had “honor” in mind when it slapped the revered name Crazy Horse on malt liquor bottles in 1992. (Crazy Horse, says David Wilkins (Lumbee) in American Indian Politics (2001), “is remembered as a staunch Sioux nationalist who remained committed to his people throughout his short life. He never signed a treaty with the federal government, and he opposed the use of alcohol by his people” (229)). I suppose Liz Claiborne, fashion guru, also had “honor” in mind when her clothing company threaded Crazy Horse (and Cherokee) on tags. Although one of Stewart’s lawyers said that his client’s use of the name “will not stop Katonah residents – or anyone else – from using the name Katonah exactly as they always have,” what will happen? Likely, Katonah becomes synonymous with Martha Stewart products (much to Stewart’s delight, the BBB imagines), not with Lenape People, not with descendants of Katonah, not with respect for Indigenous Peoples, not with honor for Katonah, New York, residents. To Ms. Stewart and Ms. Stewart followers: One’s intentions do not always match the effects.

As said before in “Indian” mascot debates and other contested arenas, it is difficult to honor those who are not honored, including Autumn Scott (Ramapough Lenape), the New Jersey State Commission on Indian Affairs co-chair. “We trust,” Scott explains, “that Martha Stewart intended no malice in seeking to have her corporation trademark the name of one of our great ancestral leaders, but for her to say she is doing so to honor him and our tribe is absurd, especially when it is being done solely for profit.” Although Stewart is talking of honoring the town, a place of refuge for her, the town is named after the Lenape (Delaware) leader. Stewart, then, would do well to address certain Native People’s warranted concerns. So far, she has greeted them with silence.

Stewart may not talk, but we Brady Braves can. Thoughts of righteous anger can be sent to television@marthastewart.com (address available at www.marthastewart.com, more specifically this page) A customer service number available at www.marthastewartstore.com is 1-800-357-7060.

Vitamin Water commercial emasculates Asian men

by guest contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Check out this commercial for Glaceau Vitamin Water, featuring David Ortiz and Brian Urlacher playing badminton against two Asian players named Yang and Lau. And guess what? The commercial makes the Asian guys—supposedly the best in the sport—look weak, inept, timid, cowering and “psychologically broken” by their two hulking non-Asian opponents. Ortiz hits the shuttlecock so hard it literally penetrates Lau’s leg. Yeah, subtle. It’s ridiculous and offensive, and it’s no coincidence. The Asian male takes another hit, ridiculed on television for the sake of selling a few more bottles of crappy ass vitamin water.

Remember Glaceau’s racist company phone greeting from a few months back? Follow the link and listen to it here. Again, jokes at the expense of Asians. What’s with the mockery? That’s strike two, Glaceau. That’s racist!

UPDATE: Here’s a story on Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong, two real U.S. badminton stars: Bach and Malaythong up against the odds. The two are training for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

UPDATE 2: Whoa. Donald informs me that Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong are the two Asians guys in the commercial! The #1 U.S. pairs team. So why the hell did they have to call them “Yang” and “Lau”? Is it because those names sound more traditionally “Asian” to the average American TV watcher?

Turning Uncle Ben into Chairman of the Board

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

At a time when we’re seeing various institutions acknowledge and apologize for their involvement with the slave trade (the state of Maryland and Brown University are two recent examples), it’s sad to see one company so enthusiastically reviving a brand that was built on slave imagery.

The New York Times discusses a new campaign from Uncle Ben’s Rice that is attempting to give Ben a makeover:

Uncle Ben, who first appeared in ads in 1946, is being reborn as Ben, an accomplished businessman with an opulent office, a busy schedule, an extensive travel itinerary and a penchant for sharing what the company calls his “grains of wisdom” about rice and life.

Check out the Uncle Ben’s web site for a glimpse at the campaign.

Uncle Ben is a perfect example of the Tom caricature. From the excellent Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia web site:

The Tom caricature portrays Black men as faithful, happily submissive servants. The Tom caricature, as with the Mammy Caricature, was born in ante-bellum America in the defense of slavery. How could slavery be wrong, argued its proponents, if Black servants, males (Toms) and females (Mammies) were contented, loyal servants? The Tom is presented as a smiling, wide-eyed, dark skinned server: fieldworker, cook, butler, porter, or waiter. Unlike the Coon, the Tom is portrayed as a dependable worker, eager to serve. Unlike the Brute, the Tom is docile and non-threatening to Whites. The Tom is often old, physically weak, psychologically dependent on Whites for approval.

During the antebellum era, whites would often refer to elderly black slaves as “uncle” or “aunt.” It was a way of bestowing some respect without going so far as to treat them as actual equals by calling them “Mr.” or “Mrs.” This means that the very names of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben are directly descended from the culture of slavery. Continue reading

Alberto VO5 hair wax makes you like, totally anti-establishment

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I actually think this ad is kind of cute. But hopefully people will realize that this isn’t quite representative anymore of China today.

The art direction is pretty accurate, puke-green paint on the wall and all. When I lived in Shanghai in the mid-80s, local schools really did look like this. Students had long ago ditched the grey Mao suits, but the little red scarves were still a must.

Thanks to HighJive for the tip!

Solving the puzzle of the lying liars who brought us Armand de Brignac champagne

by guest contributor Clyde Smith, originally published at ProHipHop

armand de brignacIt looks like most of the important parts of the puzzle of Armand de Brignac, the previously unknown yet ancient champagne that magically appeared in Jay-Z’s comeback video, have been solved. Business Week’s Burt Helm follows up, drops by the offices and eventually clarifies that Armand de Brignac is both real and a fake.

You can read his post for clarification but the name is an old one for a champagne that hasn’t existed for quite some time and the champagne packaged in the revived Armand de Brignac brand is a new blend with very little history.

Key Point Alert:
I repeat, Armand de Brignac is a new blend with no history or positive reviews by serious taste testers or anything other than an infrastructure, an appearance in a Jay-Z video, a nice bottle and a bunch of frothy media coverage [with a couple of dissidents here and there who will soon be forgotten].

So the statements from the press release that “the brand is making its North American debut this year, after enjoying success as a premium, high-end brand in France” is an outright lie. It’s a new champagne wrapped in an old brand borrowing the design of a bottle for a cheaper product.

However, Helm drops the ball when he states that this approach isn’t that different from the sudden appearance of Grey Goose Vodka that was touted as the “World’s Best Tasting Vodka.”
I’d put best tasting in the hype category as one of those lies that we’ve come to accept. I’d put trying to pass off a resurrected brand and claiming it is as an ongoing successful brand with an old history as a lie that we should refuse to accept, though it’s one that fits the world of hip hop business practices like a glove.

At this point, it’s quite obvious what’s going on here. Though Helm is still at the “skeptical” stage regarding the various disclaimers about who did what and why, it’s clear that the whole thing is a setup, regardless of whether or not this charade was inspired by the Cristal boycott.

Key Point Alert:
The very idea that Jay-Z Inc. would put a product like that in a starring role in Jay-Z’s comeback video without prior discussion or deal doing is patently absurd.

But if you buy that one, give me call, I’ve got a barely used ’69 VW bug for sale. Really, only 37k on the original engine and those are all highway miles. You’ve lucked out on this one!

More details will emerge though I’ll bet they keep the backroom realities hidden. In hip hop business, your lies are usually only revealed when you are caught up in legal proceedings because, generally speaking, hip hop business is considered entertainment news. Besides all pr is good pr and telling the truth is awfully close to snitching, don’t you think?

Much thanks for the tip to Dariah H.

Gotta love your babies’ daddies

by Jen Chau
babies daddies teeAnd if you do, here’s a shirt for you. Thanks to Ani for the heads-up. It’s a nice follow-up to the milk bottle shirt that we loved to hate a little while back.

Note the description: yay for different-raced babies?! :| Gee, I guess interracial baby-making is still kitschy, huh?

Girls, do you collect babies? Well, if you do, then celebrate your babies and their various daddies with this fine shirt. Look, all the babies are different races.

“Collect babies” is also a little questionable. :|