Harvey Weinstein, Pumpkin Spice, and the Dove Ad Controversy
Past Present Episode 103
Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:
- We discussed the serial sexual assaults many women in Hollywood allege movie mogul Harvey Weinstein committed against them, reported in a New York Times story by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Neil cited Ann Helen Petersen’s explanation in Buzzfeed of the way that women in Hollywood have used gossip networks to safeguard each other from Weinstein’s aggressions. Natalia referenced Rebecca Traister’s essay in The Cut about how not only changes in attitudes toward survivors of sexual assault but also an awareness of Weinstein’s waning power converged to make these allegations surface now.
- Starbucks has made the Pumpkin Spice Latte a fall fixture; we discussed the history of the phenomenon and of pumpkin (spice) itself. Natalia referenced Cindy Ott’s monograph Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon, in which she argues that pumpkins went from an undesirable last culinary resort in the colonial era to a symbol of the pastoral ideal in the nineteenth century and still today. Natalia and Niki also recommended the humorous McSweeney’s essay, “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf*&kers”.
- Dove, a brand that has distinguished itself with its body-positive messaging, caused a firestorm by releasing an ad that appeared to show a black woman becoming white. Niki pointed out that this is not the first time Dove has come under fire for its approach to race. Natalia recommended watching the full ad, rather than the screenshots that have circulated on social media. Natalia also recommended contextualizing the incident with Autumn Whitfield-Madrano’s book Face Value and an article at The Conversation about the racist history of skincare.
In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
- Neil commented on the sexist media coverage of the surprising loss of the U.S. men’s soccer team to Trinidad and Tobago, disqualifying them from the World Cup.
- Natalia discussed Eminem’s anti-Trump freestyle rap at the BET Awards.
- Niki discussed the “interesting but wildly inaccurate” ideas about equal time on television for politicians expressed by President Trump in a series of tweets.