But away from the white-controlled industries of book publishing, movie making, car dealing, adventure seeking, font designing, and designer clothing, in small African-American-controlled sectors of business and culture, no sign of Neuland or Lithos appears. The first issue of Ebony magazine takes more from the classic 1950s typography of Life magazine than from African-American books published at the same time, and other African-American magazine published before Ebony like Common Ground and Lamplighter do the same. Jazz album covers from labels like Blue Note and Verve are steeped in the playful modernism of designer Saul Bass and employ modern typefaces revamped, like Futura, Trade Gothic, and Clarendon, in ways that melt their Modernist frigidity and heat them with the hot beat of Jazz. From Motown in the 1970s to the Fugees today, African-American musicians do not simply ignore Lithos and Neuland on their album covers-they have excised them completely from their visual vocabulary.
As Michael Rock points out, an intrinsic difficulty confronts all designers as they set out to design new cultural texts with the tools of old Modernist typography. "Inevitably," he observes, "you end up having to refer to other aesthetic systems, and those systems are subject to stereotype." However, African-Americans from Common Ground to the Fugees seem comfortable reinventing old Modernist typography in new ways rather than developing new, separate systems. Indeed, typography today is still a separate-but-equal world, and prominent African American authors like Terrance McNally still have their work branded as "different" simply as a result of the typeface used on the cover. If, as John Gambell suggests, the typefaces we as a society choose in which to set our messages are meant to stand in for the speaker of the words themselves, than how should we see a speaker with Koch's "new black face"? If we want to know why the words of African-Americans continue to be lost, we must come to recognize that the "new black face" that voices in Neuland adopt is not a new face at all: it is simply a mask for the old black stereotypes that still persist today.
Basically the argument is that a simulacrum should be offensive if it's original (and long forgotten) referent would be offensive today? I don't buy that.
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