Review of the Article ‘When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising’

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This article essay reviews ‘When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising’ (Scodari, December 2017). This review includes a summary, discussion, and critique about the article mentioned. It includes many topics including DNA analysis and its relationship with ethnicity, race, hybridity, and many more. This review manages to discuss each point and topic in fine detail and connect them all to each together, like pieces of a puzzle. Even though there might be questions left or points to be discussed more by the author and the readers, Scodari has managed to answer a lot along the way.

Genetic genealogy testing is really not for everyone. It can affect people’s lives in many ways, whether it’s for the better or the worst, depending on how people view the results and accept them. Even though genetic mapping can only determine a small percentage of a person’s genetic markers, and that bit is what determines a person’s genetic ethnics according to the geographic regions of their original ancestors. This procedure is not to be taken lightly, and it takes time since it examines the genome thoroughly, and compares the markers of the test subject to those of subjects from different regions in order to determine one's ethnic and/or racial classification. it can still cause problems among families who thought they belonged to another major group of people and turned out to belong to another part of the population grouping. A ‘meme’ I saw a couple of weeks ago was about this topic. It stated that someone’s father had a fight with his brothers because he took the DNA analysis test and when they thought they were Italians their whole lives, or at least had Italian genes, they were a completely different race of people, and that upset the whole family. This article explains this more in detail, along with other major topics related to DNA analysis testing and results including ethnicity, race, resistance and more.

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One of the main topics discussed in this article was genetics versus culture. Culture is important to everyone and its inheritance is even more important in one’s life. People implicate and involve their cultures in their everyday lives and this can be easily noticed by anyone. So, companies that make DNA analysis like 23andMe and AncestryDNA use these ideas to market their products. For example, 23andMe, in one of its discussions called ‘Reinventing Ancestry’ and its tagline being ‘23 chromosomes that make you who you are’, argues that although someone might have biological connections with their said culture, a scientific seal of approval is essential to ensure that these results are rendered as unassailable. In one of the ads, the 23AndMe company teamed up with the movie 'Despicable Me 3' to make an ad in which the super-villain, Gru, explores his DNA and where he originates from. The villain of the movie, Gru, finds out that he has a long-lost twin brother, in which he found through genetic analysis of his DNA in the movie. “It was clear from the start that we wanted to highlight the innovative 23andMe experience in a new way”, said Matt Johnson, founder and chief strategy officer at Haymaker. “By developing a complete and detailed 23andMe account for Gru we were able to blend 23andMe into the world of 'Despicable Me' while adding depth to the backstory of everyone's favorite animated father” (Jardine, Alexandra, 2017). These types of ads are good marketing and they suggest that genetic genealogy providers are carving out a target market of adoptees and others seeking to determine otherwise unknown biological connections through genetic matching.

Hybridity also introduced the idea of having more than one ethnicity for everyone. An individual might think they were only British but turn out to be more Italian than British, and so on. One example was in one of the ads for genetic ancestry testing called the ‘Katherine and Eric’ ad, where Eric states he has two Italian family names, but his wife, Kathrine, admits Eric has more of an Eastern Europeans background rather than an Italian one. One of his ‘Italian’ family names was also featured on a website hosting the ad where it was grouped as Eastern European. So, skepticism and questions rose as to why he was assumed to be of an Italian background and not from an Eastern European one. Some people might answer these questions by stating that his looks and appearance seems ‘Italian’ and so his ethnicity is assumed. That’s why DNA analysis testing is taken by people, to provide the right answers and to prove they are not based on ‘appearances’, but rather by using actual science and technology to prove them.

Fetishization have also provided false origins and ethnicity of people with these objects. One example was a guy named Kyle who thought he was German since he had objects from his grandparents, and frequently participated in German dancing groups, found out he was Scottish through genetic DNA testing. In a similar fashion, in an ad called ‘Testimonial: Kim’, Kim found artifacts that represented her Native American roots she found out about through DNA analysis. “I wanted to know who I am”, Kim declared, and promised to explore her heritage beyond the bounds of these fetishized objects we own (Scodari, December 2017).

Racialization and racism are two of the most important topics discussed in this article relating to DNA genealogy, as they both characterize the ethnic ancestry of a person. When a person understands racialization, it makes it much easier to understand the analytical texts of genetic genealogy. In fact, it is essential to understand these analytical texts. Omi and Winant both characterized racialization as “this sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed”. Which is why racialization is a key component in understanding genetic genealogy. Bioethicists also stress on the fact that racialization has the potential to cause racial problems if the results were misused or abused by anyone. For example, when famous singer, Demi Lovato tweeted she was 1% African, that made people upset. People made jokes and fun of her and according to Seventeen’s website, “Some people explained why her tweet felt offensive: Demi shouldn't have made a joke about her (very minor) African descent, even if the joke was unintentional. Her tweet felt cutesy and flippant”. That is just one example of the problems that may arise from these DNA analysis tests (Orenstein, Hannah. 2017).

The racialization insinuated in genetic analysis ads have become more problematic because of hybridity and how it disrupts racialized groups in some categories which were taking the form of a single racial group and turned out to be either legitimate or racialized with more than a single racial group. Subdivided groups can be easily confused with the geographic population classifications which can cause racism among a population. In addition, resistance, another point discussed in the article, is derived from cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall's encoding/decoding model. This model proved that genetic analysis ads can speak in different ways to different people, which affects how much individuals are encouraged to take the DNA analysis test.

The article’s main topics, which included racialization, racism, genetics vs culture and more, all have valid points and are provided with examples and stories that further prove their authenticity and contribution to DNA analysis and the results this test provides. On the other hand, it includes a bit of controversy regarding DNA analysis testing and what that test’s results provide. Not everyone would agree with the ideas and stands Scodari took in her article regarding racial groups and letting go of what someone believed their entire life to be, a British man for example. Scodari’s article includes a lot of sensitive points for a lot of people that they cannot handle and that’s why she has provided evidence and examples along with stories and scientific evidence agreeing with her article’s main topics of discussion. Ads and media, which were both discussed in Scodari’s article, play an important role in marketing DNA analysis tests and that could cause a debate among people of whether it’s a good idea to take the test or not. In general, DNA analysis testing is accepted by a lot of people and more people are being encouraged to take the DNA analysis test after hearing the results from their fellow friends and family, even though problems might rise from the results.

This article contributed in encouraging people to take the DNA analysis test to find the truth about where they truly belong, since these tests are scientific and cannot be forged in any way in trusted companies providing this test. It mentions how taking such a test can change a person’s life and open their eyes to ways they’ve never imagined of existing in the first place. This test also helps in demolishing racism and many related topics because it proves everyone has some origin they never thought of having. It’s also an interesting, fun way of knowing how many ethnicities a person might have originated from. Exploring these results increases the knowledge of people regarding different cultures, and countries. It also helps decrease stereotyping people, countries and objects. In the end, everyone should just ‘go for it’ and explore their true origins because perspectives change with knowledge and knowledge is power.

References

  1. Scodari, Christine. “When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising”. MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 7 Dec. 2017, www.mdpi.com/2313-5778/1/4/22/htm
  2. Jardine, Alexandra. “Gru From 'Despicable Me' Explores His DNA in Ad for 23AndMe”. Ad Age, 2017, http://adage.com/creativity/work/grus-23andme-genetic-journey/51907
  3. Orenstein, Hannah. 2017. “Demi Lovato Tweeted that She’s ‘1% African!!!!’ and People Got Upset. Seventeen Magazine. February 27. Available online: http://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/news/a45384/demi-lovatotweeted-that-shes-1-percent-african-and-people-got-upset/
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Review of the Article ‘When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-the-article-when-markers-meet-marketing-ethnicity-race-hybridity-and-kinship-in-genetic-genealogy-television-advertising/
“Review of the Article ‘When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising’.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-the-article-when-markers-meet-marketing-ethnicity-race-hybridity-and-kinship-in-genetic-genealogy-television-advertising/
Review of the Article ‘When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-the-article-when-markers-meet-marketing-ethnicity-race-hybridity-and-kinship-in-genetic-genealogy-television-advertising/> [Accessed 22 Jun. 2024].
Review of the Article ‘When Markers Meet Marketing: Ethnicity, Race, Hybridity, and Kinship in Genetic Genealogy Television Advertising’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Jun 22]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-the-article-when-markers-meet-marketing-ethnicity-race-hybridity-and-kinship-in-genetic-genealogy-television-advertising/
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