I want the black one: Is there a place for Afro-American culture in commodity culture?

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 1990 Number 10

I want the black one: Is there a place for Afro-American culture in commodity culture?
Susan Willis, pages -

Abstract

Willis considers the relationship between black culture and commodification, via novels by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, and works by Franz Fanon and Edward Said. She asks whether mass culture is necessarily white culture and questions the extent to which major brands are necessarily branded white. Looking at Michael Jordan’s advertising of Nike Air, and the introduction of ‘Christie’ (the black version of Barbie) in the late 1960s, as well as Kobena Mercer’s work on the conk hairstyle, Willis considers what options of consumption are available to black people in the contemporary world. She concludes with a detailed reading of Michael Jackson’s film Moonwalker, considering Jackson as the embodiment of a sexless, ageless, raceless individual (the counterpart of the ‘beige woman’ seen on the cover of fashion magazines in the 1980s), and looking at his strategies of metamorphosis and self-commodification in the film, in relation to his real-life practice of regular ‘surgical reinvention’. Finally, Willis considers the impact of the minstrel show, demonstrating how even such a mainstream commodity icon as Mickey Mouse is imbricated in the visual rhetoric of minstrelsy, as seen in his debut cartoon Steamboat Willie.

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To cite this article
Susan Willis (1990) I want the black one: Is there a place for Afro-American culture in commodity culture?, New Formations, 1990(10), -

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