Whiteness in Crisis: Eruptions White Masculine Identity Reclamation in Commercial Advertising
Mentor:Elmer Griffin, Professor of Critical Theory and Social Justice, Occidental College
This project examines developments in White male identity formation. It considers the evolving representations of White masculinity in commercial advertising as part of the larger project of Critical White Studies, which recognizes Whiteness as an inviable ideology of supremacy obligated to a parasitic relationship to what has been constituted as Blackness. This analysis focuses on three national television advertising campaigns: Washington Mutual’s Banking Another Way, Wilson Staff’s Seriously, and Men’s Wearhouse’s New Kind of Suit. These commercials contain, as an obscure but discernible kernel, the changing characterization of White masculinity as symptomatic of its untenability. Traditional and increasingly transparent forms of White masculinity are discredited and new, more dynamic forms are constructed in an indenture to Black masculinity. Betrayed in these commercials are reconstructions of White masculinity and the dynamics of its re-formulation.