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Truthout - April 25, 2022

The fact that mixed race and LGBTQ couples and families are highly represented in TV ads does not mean that some sort of righteous plateau has been reached by American culture. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and every other person of color murdered by the police remain dead. Racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and ableism remain deeply ingrained within large swaths of the populace, as American as apple pie and the Ford Motor Company. A multiracial family peddling Cheerios has barely made a dent in the underlying systemic crisis.

Even as the far right has consolidated its power, rallying sizable numbers to attack fundamental civil and human rights, it’s nevertheless noticeable how, in mainstream popular culture, certain norms of representation have shifted dramatically over the last four decades. It’s striking that when scanning the commercials on an average TV network in 2022, no matter what is being sold — cars, jeans, breakfast cereals, vacations, those ready-made dinner boxes, booze, pet food — the actors in the ads of late are often people of color, and sometimes include queer couples. It isn’t every ad, but it’s a hell of a lot of them, and it speaks to some larger shifts in mainstream culture.

The fact that mixed race and LGBTQ couples and families are highly represented in TV ads does not mean that some sort of righteous plateau has been reached by American culture. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and every other person of color murdered by the police remain dead. Racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and ableism remain deeply ingrained within large swaths of the populace, as American as apple pie and the Ford Motor Company. A multiracial family peddling Cheerios has barely made a dent in the underlying systemic crisis.

Yet the fact that some capitalist enterprises have had to make a show of being multiracial and LGBTQ-inclusive represents a long-term nightmare for right-wing culture warriors. See, the companies running these ads are not boldly forging ahead into a just and progressive future with such endeavors. They are chasing the money, and likely spent eleventy zillion dollars on experts and panel tests to determine one simple thing: Do we make more than we lose by running with these images? The prevalence of BIPOC and/or LGBTQ actors in these ads makes it clear that it is safe and lucrative in the U.S. to do just that.

here’s nothing heroic about it. Advertisers generally follow the same morally bleak formula car companies do when deciding to issue a recall: Are lawsuits over crashes caused by this faulty part more expensive than the recall? If the recall is more expensive, they don’t do it, because they actually save money getting sued. This kind of thinking is how the word “business” became a slur in the mouths of millions: First, it’s all about the money. After that, it’s all about the money. In the end, yep, the money.

Yet even this cynical view is cold comfort to the right-wing culture warriors, for they correctly see that trends become fixed in cement over a long enough span. Their long-smoldering racist nightmare of being “replaced” crashes headlong into their deep-seated confirmation bias every time one of these ads appears on their screen. ...
Read the full report at Truthout