According to The DCist, a Metro ad features a dialogue between two women where one women is informing the other of how it takes over 8,000 miles before a Metrobus breaks down. The other women in response asks, “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”
Watching some television while I was home with my dad for Thanksgiving is always fun. He is a bit more into the NFL and college football scene than I am; however, being a bit of an ad nerd I always enjoy watching the ads during big games. Of course the Super Bowl is the best time, yet because it is so popular in America to put the football game on pre or post Thanksgiving dinner, the air time is extremely pricey. This yields fun and juicy ads to at which to both laugh and seriously contemplate. I am going to preface this particular ad critique by saying I enjoy these beer commercials. Being from Philly with our crazy sports fans, I think the superstitions that people follow are extremely comical. There is some truth in the fact that we do all have the crazy friend who becomes obsessed with one particular team, and after a few beers he or she will definitely get crazy into the game. Moreover, I also do not wish to critique Bud Light for advertising directly to their target audience. We find so many stereotypes performed in advertising merely because their objective is to reach the average person. Here, we find the beer company targeting the American male who wants to drink beer and watch the football game. However, I do find it interesting that this is still the common trope. I sincerely believe there is some diversity to football fans in America. The beer companies already have their white males hooked. Let’s explore another trope shall we?
As we begin the official holiday shopping season, retailers are inundating the American public with advertisements online, in print, and in mailings with the hopes of luring in shoppers and their wallets. Bed, Bath & Beyond, well-versed in all the above advertising approaches (I can wallpaper my bedroom with the amount of $5 coupons they’ve sent me), posted this image as part of their online holiday catalog. The 8-limbed woman in the image perfectly illustrates the domestic expectations placed upon women year-round, especially during the holiday season. At the holidays, women are expected to cook, clean and entertain at a higher level than the rest of the year, and BB&B is here to make that happen!
Don’t bother enlisting the help of spouses, children, family, or friends–instead pick up 5 or 6 kitchen gadgets (starting at the low price of $9.99!) and get to work slicing, dicing, carving, mixing, sous-vide-ing, mashing, stuffing, peeling, sauteing, warming, brining, frying, baking, and pouring. When everyone has fallen into a food coma, you can get to work clearing, scrubbing, soaking, soaping, rinsing, spraying, wiping, washing, drying, polishing, and packing away all your fine china til next year. Make sure to quip about how sinful the pumpkin pie is, and thank God you’re doing all this manual labor to burn off the calories–you put so much butter in the mashed potatoes, after all!
To brand their image rappers will portray themselves as macho-gangster player’s slathered in women and bling. One of my favorite hip-hop songs is “U and Dat” by E-40 and T-Pain featuring Kandi Girl. In this song our rappers are competing for the attention of a posteriorly well endowed beauty asking her “what you gonna do, with this pimpin’.” This type of bravado only works in the fairytale rap world where booty’s are the only thing men care about, and everyone has guns but no one gets shot. POOF! Back to the real world, where objectification of women is wrong and stereotypes are perpetuated by those who seek profit over piety. I’ve been listening to E40 since high school. He’s an underground legend widely credited with bringing the genre of Hyphy into the mainstream. T-Pain is currently one of hip-hop’s most sought after collaborators, having worked with nearly all of hip-hop’s big names. Kandi Girl is an accomplished singer-songwriter and successful business-woman outside of hip-hop. She even has a Grammy to her credit. With all this collective talent it makes me wonder why they have to resort to degrading women in order to sell records. Maybe the culture demands it?
This Amazon Kindle commercial reinforces many homosexual stereotypes represented in modern media. The stereotypical gay male represented in many television commercials is white, wealthy, upper class, and style-conscious. Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai writes, “gayness in the marketing discourse often is defined by high-end tastes and conspicuous consumption” (Tsai, 6). In this ad, Amazon is using the gay male’s approval of their product to portray it as high-end and fashionable.
The advertisement is also extremely heteronormative. In the advertisement, the man on the beach is portrayed as the “woman” of the relationship and the man getting drinks is the “man.” The man on the beach is not necessarily more feminine, rather his position in the relationship is represented through his likeness to the woman on the beach. The concept that one man must be the “woman” of the relationship and the other the “man” is a heteronormative stereotype. This aspect of the commercial contributes to the development of heterosexual norms. In Heteronormativity and the L Word, Samuel A. Chambers writes that a norm “implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, demands, presumes, expects and calls for the normal” (Chambers, 84). In this case, heterosexual positions in a homosexual relationship are the norm that the advertisement is reinforcing.
Reading the L Word: Outing Contemporary Television. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, eds. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006: 81-98.
Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11, no. 1 (2010) http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 31, 2012).
Discrimination is the unjust treatment of others based on race, age, or sex. Discrimination becomes a major part of someone’s life when their natural physical characteristics change the way they are received by others. I believe that females have to deal with discrimination more often than males in society. This is mainly because of the way women are presented in the media. Most importantly, women are seen as easily manipulated. On the other hand, I think that males are believed to have an inherent striking presence and are promised a certain power than women are not: “the promised power may be moral, physical, temperamental, economic, social, sexual- but its object is always exterior to the man. A man’s presence suggests what he is capable of doing to or for you” (Berger 37). Accordingly, I believe that discrimination is a hackneyed process that people perform daily where men are seen as the more authoritative. Since media sets up a “phallocentric patriarchal state” (Hooks 109), unequal notions leads to discrimination based on gender. For instance, in a highly publicized study by the National Academy of Sciences, the same resumes were handed out with either a male or female name. Results showed that the male applicants were consistently rated higher despite the same qualifications, thus revealing an existing gender disparity within academic science thanks to discrimination (Moss-Rasculin, et al. 1).
Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.
Hooks, Bell. “Seduced by Violence No More.” Outlaw Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Moss-Rasculin, Corinne A., et al. “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 21 August 2012. Web. 28 October 2013. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109
Now, of course criticizing men’s product commercials is a feministic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Nonetheless, a recent commercial for Axe hair styling products (Axe men’s products in general) caught my eye as especially provocative. Notoriously men’s products such as Axe and Old Spice have relied on one common mantra to sell their goods. The underlying message for the majority of ads reads simply: if you buy this product, women will like you. This then opens an cornucopia of gender stereotypes to manipulate around this simple objective. While at first it is one sort of “women” categorization that average Axe user wishes to attract. And it goes without saying she may have been on the cover of Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit edition. However, this recent ad struct me as interesting because Axe transcends your typical gender stereotype. Here we have an athletic (mind you, attractive) woman who forgoes winning her race to smell the rather nerdy looking guy who managing the start gun. In a sense the message here reads, wear Axe if you aren’t a manly man… and you may indeed dominate another kind of woman. Still the same gender constructions, different approach.