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What’s the real message here?

2009 March 2
by Guinevere

In researching Survivor episodes for Wednesday’s panel, I’ve been watching tv online which means I’ve seen some of the same ads about 30 times. There’s one that keeps bugging me and I want to know if you’ve seen it and have had similar thoughts.

NB: I can’t find it on the web anywhere unless I’m in the middle of an episode. Sorry, I can’t post it here. Hope you may have seen it.

It’s for Sprint’s 3G Family Plan and the announcer is saying something along the lines of “this plan let’s your family use their phones the way they want.” This is spoken over video of a family enjoying some time at the Natural History Museum in New York. We pan from young boy looking at the display to mom pointing out something to her husband who has his arm around her to pre-teen girl doing something on her phone and not even looking up at the display. The text overlaid on the screen when we pan to the girl says “Unlimited 3G Web Surfing” and then fades to “Unlimited Text Messaging.”

My gut reaction is “why are you even at the museum if you’re going to sit there and surf or text?” And then I think “Wow, Sprint thought this was a positive message to send? That girls don’t like museums, they’d rather use their phones to ‘connect’ with their friends or anything but their families?” It just seems so strange to me that Sprint’s idyllic image of family members being able to use their phones however and where ever they please is a pre-teen girl ignoring her family and their obvious effort to spend time together.

This whole thing also reminds me of those new PC ads where they have 4 1/2 and 7 yr old girls using PCs. At the end, each says “I’m a PC and I’m 4 and 1/2.” My first thought is always “Brainwashing!!!” I’ll admit that I’m a Mac, but I really don’t have any personal vendetta against PCs, so I feel comfortable asserting that my reaction isn’t too subject to my personal preference. Watch the commercial, you’ll see what I mean.

2 Responses
  1. Baibh Cathba permalink
    March 2, 2009

    Ok… well I’m not a really big fan of the apple OS or Windows, I’m more a Linux girl myself (hehe), but I can see where you might have thought brainwashing. I mean, it’s not like kids can think for themselves… or can they? Is that really what it was driving the conversation towards? I’d like to think that I was an independent thinker… I’m sure we all would like to think so, but I guess that’s some more food for thought.

    My mom’s a mac and my dad’s a pc… so am I tolerant of “the other”? Well… I’m not really a mac fan because their commercials are kind of mean after a while with the mac being a “hip” dude and the pc being an “old fogey”. Also? Both are guys. Can I not be a hip female computer? Also, I like my left and right mouse buttons. (call me vain, but I want my computer inside parts inside and my clicky bits easily accessible on the outside)

    Frankly, I thought the commercials were adorable. I mean, girls, young girls, PWNING TECHNOLOGY! Yeah! Score one for feminism, right? I mean, they’re using cameras and stuff, so it’s got to be all women-powered up… or is it?

    I guess commercials are interesting in so many ways. Here’s one that is not empowering for women: G4 TV commercial

    This also brings to mind the feminization of technology… like, why do we call ships “she”? Why is technology sexy… is it the smooth, sleek, sinuous, curvaceous lines of the machine? Doesn’t this address the whole men dominate women (oops, I mean technology) issue as well? What does it say that seeing young girls playing with technology is considered odd or “brainwashy”? Is this not also reinforcing the sexual stereotype of heterosexual norms? (Whoa, I think I sound a bit femeNAZI there, rather than feminist, but I guess that’s the price to pay for thinking.)

  2. Maddie permalink
    March 2, 2009

    Do you think you would have reacted the same way to that sprint commercial before this class? (I don’t think I would have.)

    As for the computer commercial… its alarming to me because its crazy to think that our generation’s children will grow up in “the future”. Our kids will make fun of us for having cars that don’t fly, and for watching VHS’s.

    I have a black and white film camera that I bring to the Haverford Thorne Kindergarten sometimes, and after I take a pictures of these futuristic 5 year olds, they say “let me see the picture!” and look at the (blank) back of my camera confused as to why the picture didn’t magically appear as it does on mommy’s camera. Our kids wont know what FILM is!? Just the other day, a 6 year old I babysit asked what a CD was. 4-year-olds on state-of-the-art laptops? I grew up on a 1990 Macintosh llsi. how embarrassing.

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