December 18, 2008

Sex Sells; Fear of Sex Sells More

So I'm catching up on Blue Gal's blog, and find a link to a bit of advertising hysteria that got posted at Huffington Post:
Yet the advertising world has not caught up to the advances of half our population and continues to use stereotypes and violence to prey on our most vile desires. Here are the worst of them--the trends that won't die despite our cultural outrage, and personal boredom.
Well, first off: "outrage" and "boredom" are pretty much antonyms. You really can't have both at once. It does serve as a nice warning for what is to follow, however.
You may think, "hey this one shows two women, there aren't even men involved, how can it be sexist?" [...] these women are obviously putting on a show for an outsider, not having a passionate lesbian love affair for themselves.
Note that this is about a series of ads for Remy Martin. You know, booze. And the two women in the ad pictured? Are two women in a heavy flirtation with a bondage subtext. Women who engage in bondage are apparently bad, though I personally remain unconvinced.
Next up is rape:
The world of high fashion has been the worst offender in the violence-as-art game. Cavalli had pirates, Chanel had a wife beater, and now Dolce and Gabbana has this.
Yup, Dolce & Gabbana. Lots and lots of guys buy Dolce & Gabbana. That's why that fashion company is so successful - they know their market. Oh, and any guy who doesn't think a rape is going on right there on the set is a fag.
They are offering you a virgin in looks and expression, and a slut in the tagline: "You know you're not the first." [...] She's the ultimate fantasy: a virgin who won't say no to anything.
Other than contradicting yourself, you could simply say that kids in advertising are creepy - which is absolutely true. But the writer shoots herself in the foot by bringing up that Calvin Klien campaign featuring young people in sexual circumstances; apparently she missed the part where the models were both male and female...
There are many meanings to the term corporate responsibility and one of them is not to fetishize female sexuality.
That when she's talking about a Nikon ad featuring two women on a bed, posing for the camera.


Okay, I'll type slowly so you can follow along: the term "fetish", when used in a discussion of sexuality, means something that the victim of the fetish cannot achieve sexual wholeness without. To enjoy sex, they must have their fetish indulged. The term "sexuality" is misused here as well, unless you are talking about the sexuality of the two women in the picture. Meaning: unless you intended to state that Nikon is taking advantage of the poor lesbians in the crowd, I think you've missed your mark.

However, in case you meant that companies shouldn't advertise using men's fantasies, boy are you going to be disappointed for the next, oh... 1,035,626 years or so. Fantasies are exactly what advertising is, whether sex is involved or not.
The images and tag lines reinforce the idea of women sex receptacle, and therefore simply a receiver of sex, not one engaging in an equal process. This ad reads "I Want You All Over Me," which is as subtle as it is sexy.
It's also for a perfume. Called "Lamb", of all things. No comment on women being "led to the slaughter"? I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

The ending paragraph is probably one the writer wants to have back, too:
The fact that these trends are so widespread is not the fault of the advertising world--these people are paid to appeal to our ids, they are often self-aware in their tendency to make the world harder for women, that's the life they've chosen.
So, they are deliberately making the world harder for women, but it's not their fault? Huh. And it's true, you know: life has been getting harder and harder for women ever since advertising came out this year.

I'm still bemused that of the five advertisements the writer complains about, all are for luxury items - unless stupidly expensive shoes have become somehow essential - and two are targeted specifically at women. Add that to her astounding ability to chase her own tail (logically speaking) and you end up with a post filled with despair and anger and not a small amount of cluelessness.

Makes you wonder what complaints she'd file about this jeans ad.

Given time, these things will balance themselves out. Maybe we'll be hearing Dan Savage complaining bitterly about the wall-to-wall gay porn being used to sell lipstick in his podcasts by 2010.

We can only hope.


posted by Thursday at 8:06 pm


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