Power constructs can be seen in and are reinforced by this mass communication example of Annie, the Popeys spokesperson.
Why is it that the the mass communication example of Popeye the white sailor man is portrayed as, aside from his poor depth of vision, a physically-fit, spinach-eating, babe magnet? What are people supposed to think? Are white men less obese than Blacks? Are they healthier because of their diet? The answer may actually be yes, because of a power structure reinforced by images seen everywhere. There is, of course, another Popeye: Popeyes Chicken. But it’s no surprise that purveyors of the stereotypical Black-coveted fried chicken has created a slightly different visual vocabulary in their mass media example. Popeyes advertising demonstrates the constructs of race in society through stereotypes and the modern depiction of the Black woman.
In this powerful Popeyes advertising and mass communication example the apron hangs like chains around Annie’s neck. In this example, “it’s official! Popeyes beat KFC.” The proud hardworking Black women and her Colgate smile appear to have been laboring away, frying chicken, mashing potatoes, and baking biscuits. The plethora of home-cooking is laid out in perspective before the hungry viewer who is ready to consume food, images, and cultural instructions in this mass media example. The composition can strike too close to a cultural construct that is for many a very sensitive topic.
Stereotypes like the ones in this mass communication example and other Popeyes ads are like visual chemtrails or Jedi mind tricks targeted towards Blacks. Within seconds Black viewers identify with the person of color serving them chicken. This not only shows whites that Blacks are connoisseurs of fried chicken, but shows Blacks that Blacks should be eating fried chicken. Popeyes is targeting Blacks for their advertising, espcially in this mass media example, because of a pre-existing stereotype that African-Americans love fried chicken. This advertising tactic not only represents a stereotype but creates an inescapable cycle of fortifying it. To further bolster this stereotype, Popeyes calls their chicken “Louisiana” fast. This speaks to an audience from the South which is largely African American. In another commercial, Annie refers to the competition as the “other guys” as the commercial cuts away to a shot of a white man. It’s as if they are reiterating that separate is equal and Blacks cannot eat the same food as whites. When people see these stereotypes they start to think they’re true and actually live up to them.
Aunt Jemima reinforced this same cultural system too. Aunt “Annie” Jemima has lost her bandana and is no longer serving breakfast to little white boys but still conveys the “mammy” stereotype which is still strong today. Eating Popeyes is like eating your nanny’s personally cooked home-made cooking. When Annie says “my” while describing her “my sweet and crunchy” fast food she draws attention to the fact that she personally has cooked the food. The Popeyes spokesperson in this mass communication example is a reincarnation of the stereotypical Aunt Jemima spokesperson. The friendly-looking black women happily toiling away in the kitchen and eager to serve up her bounty is a familiar and accepted image. Also, just like the modernization of the now slender Aunt Jemima spokesperson, Annie has been made to look less threatening. The woman in this mass media example is made to be super smiley and pleasant as if to make her more affable to people of all races. This visual language not only presents stereotypes but reinforces a cultural system.