The image below was released about two years ago by Intel, but was, as you will probably guess, eventually retracted due to all heat it got.
The basics: The image here denotes 7 males, one of which is Caucasian. He is wearing khakis and a button up shirt, with a short haircut. This man is standing with his arms crossed and is mostly in the center of the photo. To go further, he is standing with one foot a bit more in front of the other, and is somewhat slanted towards the left (ours, not his).
The other six males are African American. They are all muscular and bald. The men are wearing identical yellow and black leotards, although we can only see their upper torsos. They are all crouched with their hands on the ground and looking down.
These six men are all separated by dividers, which appear to be desks or cabinets of some sort. We see that they are indoors because the ceiling is in the photograph. However, there are large windows in the background. The main black text sits nicely over these windows.
Now, the fun stuff. At first glance, this image appears to be an obvious distribution of power. The physical characteristics and wardrobe of the six crouched men connote that they are runners - fast ones, judging by the size of their muscles. The white male in the middle is rather slender in shape, but is wearing business clothes. His outfit, along with his smug stance (note the small smile-a denotation) connotes that he is the boss, the leader with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The nature of the text signifies to the reader that he is the boss, and the other men are his workers.
The controversy appears because of shared cultural knowledge. This image goes further to connote a sense of slavery because the men, the black men, are bowing down, not just as a starting stance, but as a sign of submission to their white leader. The text wants us to think that this leader has an Intel processor, and is therefore entitled to his power because his employees bow down to him. However, the cultural and historical context of this advertisement signifies otherwise.
It is also interesting to note that there are all men in this picture. There are no females depicted, either in an authoritative position or in one of submissive strength. This suggests many things, one of which that Intel processors are masculine in nature. Control and power are assets often asserted with masculinity, and this advertisement surely affirms it.
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