Ad Critique: The Missing Bits

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-anmVGZv2c

“Yes, sir. That’s all I ever think about–the future, babies, and commitment. Future, babies, commitment. Future, babies, commitment. Commitment, commitment, commitment, commitment”.

-Veronica from Better off Ted

Crest’s opening salvo in this commercial is, “He could be the one”, as if the only thing that should be on a woman’s mind is marriage and children. The way the ad portrays the actress focusing solely on getting the attention of the man sitting across the restaurant insinuates that she, as a woman, needs a man to give her life meaning. This ad is particularly offensive in its implication that women are somehow less ‘whole’ without marriage – essentially without a man. Simone de Beauvoir comments on this societal belief that “define woman not to herself but relative to him [the man]” (de Beauvoir, 1949). She quotes Julien Benda, “[the body of a woman] seems wanting in significance by itself” in society (de Beauvoir, 1949).  This goes back to Judith Lorber’s discussion of Man as a positive existence, while Woman is the other, and is somehow lacking in comparison to Man (Lorber, 1990).

In addition, this advertisement is a prime example of society’s obsession with storage binning gender (Butler, 1990). The lead actress in the commercial embodies the stereotypical gender role that a woman is supposed to play. She is pretty, heterosexual (as she is trying to attract the man sitting at the other end of the diner), and is thinking of marriage, commitment, and babies – all the traditional female domains. The ad is trying to insinuate that all women think like this, or at the very least should try to adhere to gender stereotypes. This advertisement is offensive and narrow, in the sense that it continues to force the unity of sex, gender, and desire when they don’t necessarily fit (Butler, 1990).

Bibliography:

de Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 32-40. Print.

Lorber, Judith. Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. Ed. Estelle Disch. 4. 2006.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1999. Pages 9-19, 194-197

“The Impertence of Communicationizing” Better off Ted. Season 2, Episode 9. Dir. Victor Fresco. ABC. 2010.

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