Friday, March 18, 2011

"Advertisements Versus Women: Selling the Understatement"

Everyday, we wake up, we explore the world, we interact, we process what we have observed, we sleep, but most importantly, as individuals, we consume. Why is this? Sure, we naturally consume to survive in the real world, but where is the fine line drawn between consuming to adapt and consuming to become? This is where advertising comes into a new perspective. So what is advertising? As mass society and media have defined it to be, advertising is the method of calling the public’s attention to products for purchase. Though this sweet, simple, and well-rounded definition seems significant enough to explain the success of the media industry, I would strongly argue (and pardon my French) that the aforementioned definition represents utter bullshit. In his critically analytical essay, “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising,” Anthony Joseph Paul Cortese argues “advertising sells more than product; it sells values and cultural representations, such as success and sexuality (45).” Think about it. When we actively view an advertisement, the success usually lies in the sexual connotations that embodies the advertisement as a whole. Let’s take this ad for Nike Women for a deconstructive spin, shall we?

Okay. So you up the latest issue of Women's Health Magazine to page 3 and this is the ad that is wrenching at your eye sockets. What is the first thing that you see in this rather provocative ad? If you guessed a peach in skin tight underwear, then you could be right (sarcasm). The model's exaggerated hips, upper thighs, and butt is in clear view here. The ad even goes to the extent of remodeling the "My Butt" poem in a similar, voluptuous manner. However, the rational question to ask here is, where are the Nike sneakers? Truly odd that thousands of dollars go into an ad that does not feature any products to sell, but rather a look, a "gaze," according to Laura Mulvey, that a "displays women as objects of sexual gratification (837)." To help give Mulvey clarity, Naomi Wolf argues that "women are mere 'beauties' in a men's culture so as to keep the culture masculine (59)" in her essay, "Culture."

Personally, I grow exhausted and disgusted of the portrayal of women in advertisements. Here's another in the making: Seriously? Is this ad trying to convey that 'hey, it's okay to have alcoholic substances while pregnant because it's both sexy, harmless to your complexion, and healthy for the baby?' I would think so. Would you?

I cannot even look at horror movies the same nor play my video games without seeing the corset image painting a target on my back. So the ultimate question that remains here is, how and why do we go about providing alternative means towards the direction of advertisements? The why part is relatively easy. "Women are deeply affected by what their magazines tell them because they are all most women have as a window on their own mass sensibility," says Wolf. In other words, if women are to consume to become it disconnects them from reality and their naturalness, thus adding them to this culture of 'desirable objects' and without a doubt this has to change.

Looking at horror films all my life, I strongly believe an effective strategy behind advertisements should not consist of empowering women through their bodily images, but rather empowering them through the roles that they perform daily. For example, society as we know is in a need for a larger pool of doctors, effective CEOs and services workers, educational organizations on the subject of womenhood, etc. If the advertising industry focused on campaigns of this caliber, then it would not only recognize a woman's potential in adapting to different situations, but also open more doors for future inspiration and promotes education on what being a 'real' woman is. By starting with simple ads ranging from:

The message behind each and every presented advertisement thus becomes clearly precise and effectively targeted towards broad demographics (not selected ones).

Another method in alternating images in advertisements includes convincing the audience through the use of emotion and lively expressions. Take these two ads into account:

Okay. Now ask yourself, which one of these advertisements effectively conveys the powerful message of rallying against fur? Surely the one on the left maybe eye catching, but the one on the right uses the emotions of the animal to produce a political and social campaign that aids towards advocating against the usage of animal fur.

Though this may be debatable, in the end, I strongly believe that the key to a successful advertisement lies within the emotional connections that could be drawn from and therefore motivated through the audience as a whole. Otherwise, we would be shitfaced into thinking that this is acceptable for a woman's image...

"Advertising: The science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it."

~ Stephen Leacock.

1 comment:

  1. I Love the ending quote. Shame it is the driving force behind the mess we as a people have managed to create.