Support Us
LAMPlatoon Featured Video: Kia Hamsters, or Fuzzy Faced Minstrels? - The LAMP

LAMPlatoon Featured Video: Kia Hamsters, or Fuzzy Faced Minstrels?

By April 29, 2011 News 2 Comments

Check out our latest video from LAMPlatoon member Theo Hollingsworth:

When this commercial first came out in 2010 during the Super Bowl, it hit the big time and soared among the most popular Super Bowl ads for the year. It’s got everything–upbeat music, humor and small animals (and we all know animals are candy for online video traffic). But a closer, critical look reveals a subtext which hinges on stereotypes of race, class and even gender. This video focuses on the racial stereotype, and reveals that even though the mice have light fur, most of us as audience members read them as black. Maybe it’s because a lot of us connect the 1991 song, “The Choice is Yours” with the hip hop duo Black Sheep, who are also African American. Or maybe there is something else happening in the way the mice act that sends us a signal about their race. It seems a little ridiculous that mice would need to be coded as a certain race, but imagine how the commercial would change if the mice were replaced by humans. By using mice, which have no ethnicity, the producers of this commercial are able to skirt making any obvious and potentially offensive statements about race, and most viewers can turn away from the commercial thinking it was harmless and fun. Look closely, though, and consider the assumptions you make as you watch. Why do you accept them, and are they fair?

If you’re interested in shining a light on other stereotypes and assumptions you see in commercials, email us today to join LAMPlatoon and take action. Next week, it could be your video in this space!

For the latest news and insights on media and media literacy, follow The LAMP on Twitter: @thelampnyc

  • Actually, I think you might be the one making the stereotype. Hip-Hop isn’t just for blacks anymore—and the stellar sales of the “hamster car” (aka. Soul) proves that. It’s time we stop trying to find a racial “boogie man” behind every lyric…

    • Interesting point–the way people read commercials does reveal something about their own assumptions, as in this case where there is an assumption by the producer about what it means to ‘act black.’ Thanks for the comment!