April 11th, 2013
The Transformation of African American Language
Since the rise of technology, advertising is becoming more and more prominent. Television, computers, tablets, and smart phones are all modern mechanisms in which advertisers use to promulgate their products. Most advertizing companies select a target audience with their ads. In most cases advertisers use a “cool” approach in their ads to market to teenagers; since they have become large-scale consumers. Leslie Savan, an author, delves into this trend of marketing to teenagers in her excerpt, What's Black, Then White, and Said All Over? She explains how advertising has adapted to using black vernacular to attract a young or a 'wannabe cool' crowd. Savan states, “Since at least the early nineties, with hip-hop an entrenched, virtually mainstream hit, wannabe has been far more likely to refer to whites, especially teenagers, who want to be black or do the style” (370). By the early nineties black slang had become in-style. Black vernacular was no longer looked down upon, but instead used to seem trendy or hip to teenagers and part of the rest of society. Advertisers noticed this trend and decided to use black slang to attract customers. “To the young, advertising has become acceptable-nay, desirable-part of the cool life they aspire to: and a black, hip-hop-ish vernacular has become a crucial cog in the youth market machinery” (366). Teenagers desire the rebelliousness of hip-hop and therefore admire any advertisement that portrays that rebellious look. Since teens have become large-scale consumers, advertisers have been trying to target their marketing to adolescents and young adults for decades. Black vernacular has become a marketing technique and is getting stripped from its roots. First, black talk has become deemed as admirable through rap. This is mainly because in their lyrics rappers are usually showing off possessions or their talents. Lisa Green, the author of African American English, justifies this in her book, “One prominent feature of rap is bragging and boasting about strengths, possessions, and skills using words” (156). Rappers take pride in their work with the rhyme scheme, creative words, and diffuseness. They create both an ego for themselves and the consumers who listen to their work by being seen as strong and dominant. Rap and hip-hop has broken through its boundaries of the poverty regions and now has an influence on style, clothing, television, sexuality, magazines, language, movies, and society as a whole. Ebonics is now praised and used by top-of-the-line designer fashion industries, musicians, critics, scholars, politicians, and your average citizen. Savan asserts, “'Chill Orrin', the Democratic senator Patrick Leahy told the Republican senator Orrin Hatch when things got testy during a Judiciary Committee hearing in 1998” (370). Mr. Leahy was attempting to look cool by telling the other senator to 'chill'. However, it was more than just looking cool, he was using the admired black vernacular against his opponent. Patrick was standing his ground in basically saying he was closer with African Americans than Orrin is. This ego reflects back on the feel of dominance ebonics, rap, and hip-hop provides. This supremacy has caused advertisers to look to rap as their key to a making profit. Next, rap and hip-hop has been brought into the advertising industry due to its increasing popularity and veneration in society. Mainly teens have been the generators for the up-rise in rap and hip-hop recognition. Teenagers are the target audience among markers. Adolescents feel an urge to be accepted by their peers and thus spend money what ever happens to be 'in'. Therefore marketing to teens is a good strategy due to the fact that they spend the most amount of money on frivolous things. Karen Fanning confirms just how much marketers want to attract young consumers in her article, Marketing To Teens: Does...
Fanning, Karen. "Marketing to teens: Does Owning More Stuff Make You More Popular? That 's what advertisers want you to think." Junior Scholastic 10 Mar. 2008: 16+. General OneFile. Web. April 11th, 2013.
Green, Lisa J. African American English: a linguistic introduction. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print. April 11th, 2013
Merchants of Cool. Barak Goodman. PBS. Frontline, February 27, 2001. Television. April 11th, 2013.
Savan, Leslie. Barclay Barrios, 363-389. Barrios, Barclay. Eds. Emerging. Contemporary Readings For Writers. Boston. Bedford/St. Martins 2012 Print. April 11th, 2013
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