Corn Ma(i)ze


This blog post was meant to be a light mid-summer snack, inspired as it was by my happy consumption of a tender ear of corn-on-the-cob for a July dinner. My post gained some weight in the cooking process, but perhaps you will ingest it anyway. I cannot say how digestible it will be.


Mazola maiden

My corn was spread with butter but it brought back memories of an age when butter was shunned and margarine was touted as the healthy alternative. In the late 1970s, a series of popular advertisements featured a beautiful Native American woman touting the virtues of Mazola Margarine. She was dressed in denim and her shining black hair flowed straight down her back. In the version I recall, the smiling Mazola Margarine maiden appeared in a luxuriant green field while Native Americans danced in the background. In clipped and pleasant tones, she told her audience that corn had always been an essential food for her people. She assured viewers that Mazola had no cholesterol – naturally! – and tasted fresh and delicious. “Mazola Margarine,” she concluded, “it gets goodness from corn!”

What could be more, well, corny? Yet the advertisement still charmed. It was not until I was in graduate school, however, that I learned from a seminar reading assignment that the Mazola maiden had been a significant step in American advertising: Continue reading

Playing the Race Card and the New Western Imperialism

Dunkin Donuts

Thailand is the only southeast-Asian nation that was never colonized by western powers, and the Thai pride themselves on being a “land of the free.” But now it seems that some in the West want to impose a bit of cultural imperialism on the Thai.

Recently American media have criticized racist advertising in Thailand. Time complained about a Dunkin’ Donuts ad that featured a woman whose face was painted black, and then The New Yorker rehashed that story when complaining that Naomi Campbell appeared too white on the cover of Vogue Thailand.

According to these media outlets, Thailand has a problem with racism. The Thai consider light skin beautiful; therefore, they must be racists. The manipulating of skin color in advertisements offends some Americans; therefore, the Thai must be racist. The companies involved have issued non-apologies for these transgressions against American sensibilities; therefore, the Thai must be racist. All this hand wringing is nonsense, and if anyone has a right to be offended it’s the Thai.

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