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Media Foreplay

2009 January 27
by Melanie

I was going to post on the readings, but I figured I should get this off my mind first:

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really excited for the Super Bowl this weekend. I watch it every year, and have since I was 6. I was just thinking about how I was going to celebrate, when my friend sent me a link to the PETA website. Random? I think not. As some of you are probably aware, PETA has a reputation for putting highly sexualized ads out there to get their message across. Well, the major networks have just rejected the newest PETA commercial, designed to play during the big money slot of Super Bowl Sunday. Why? Because it features women (and only women) performing “veggie love” with things like pumpkins and asparagus. Not exactly appropriate for prime time television. But the fact that this commercial was made speaks, in my opinion, quite eloquently about what drives the technology of television: sex. And not just sex, but heterosexual sex from a man’s perspective. Why are there no men in the PETA commercial? Is it because they are speaking to the “target Super Bowl audience”: the traditional man’s man? Check it out: Veggie Love

How many times have we seen commercials for burgers or cars or phones where conventionally sexy and scantily clad women are plugging them? Now think about how many times you’ve seen a commercial like that with a man. I am hard pressed to think of any. It’s not just the Super Bowl; it’s all the time. I would be willing to bet money that they are not aiming these ads at lesbians. Why is television the man’s domain when it comes to advertising? And why do commercials geared towards women always have flowers and babies and fruit? Even deodorant isn’t sacred. Men’s deodorant: “smell like a stiff sea breeze,” “smell strong and see the ladies come running,” “smell like wood shavings.” What? Women’s deodorant: “smell like lavender and roses,” “smell like baby powder, just like your own little angel.” What if I don’t want to smell like flowers or a baby’s butt? It’s something that’s bothered me about television for a long time. Not that people think I want to smell like a baby’s butt, but that advertisements can be so gendered. Isn’t there a better way of appealing to people?

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