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August 26, 2003

anthropomorphic recyclables

Graphic Artist Carefully Assigns Ethnicities to Anthropomorphic Recyclables:

"For reasons of basic sensitivity, you don't want to make the Chinese take-out container an Asian," Bellisle said, as she flipped past a crossed-out pencil sketch of an Inuit ice-cream carton. "But, if you make the same type of container represent two different races, people notice. It's a delicate balancing act. I discovered that there were negative connotations attached to a surprising number of the things people throw out."

Although she said she is satisfied with her decision to incorporate Asiatic epicanthic folds into the eyes of an age-discolored stack of newspapers, Bellisle admitted that infusing everyday household garbage with easily recognizable racial traits—while avoiding demeaning stereotypes—is difficult.

"It took me forever to get this trash can to look like a black guy, especially around the nose," said Bellisle, who noted that she discarded close to 30 preliminary characters, among them a Native American milk carton, a Filipino cereal box, and a stack of East Indian wire-hangers. "I finally made the green recycling drum a woman, which was great, since a garbage can is kind of husky, and I could get around the sexy-garbage/body-image issue."

Added Bellisle: "That brings another problem to light: If you include one woman in the mix, no one cares what race she is. As if one female recycling drum can represent female recycling drums of all races, but male recyclables deserve further distinction."

(The Onion seems to have adopted a new page-naming convention, so I don't expect the link to last more than a week.)

Posted by joel at 06:12 PM

I thought this article was real... until i read onion at the bottom...

Posted by: Holy Turdballs at August 27, 2003 06:27 AM

You know, I thought it was an excerpt from a real article until I got to the very end and read your comment about The Onion's page-naming convention. This sort of interview is actually plausible in today's world. Scary.

Posted by: Jacqueline at August 27, 2003 12:07 PM