You know how every once in a while someone comes into your life–be it in person or in book, music, film, or some other form–and totally blows you away because they're saying everything you've been thinking, but in a way that is smarter and better than you've been thinking it? Like they took what was inside your brain and made it make sense? Jean Kilbourne is one of those people for me. As a young feminist beginning my academic career in media studies, no one hit more nails on more heads for me than she did. I am sure I'm not alone in feeling this way about Ms. Kilbourne and her work, which makes it all the more exciting that her book, Can't Buy My Love, is our first Mad World Book Club selection!
Advertisements for dinner-related items are almost always loaded with gender weirdness. The doting mom cooks for her nuclear family, and they love her for it–thanks to the help of whatever fantastic instant food item is being showcased. This is such a well-worn commercial trope that we often don't notice it unless it is absent, which is (sort of) the case with the latest campaign from Stouffer's: Let's Fix Dinner.
OK folks. We're a little busy here at Bitch HQ today getting ready for our Compromising Positions Forum tonight (you're coming, right?) so it seemed like the perfect time for a Mad World open forum. The prompt: Which ads have actually compelled you to buy something? Or, have you ever purchased something just because you liked the ad?
I'll start. Last week I was at a big box store (OK, it was Target) and I was looking for some body wash. Although several brands were cheaper, and they probably all contain roughly the same ingredients, I went with Dove Cream Oil. Why? Because I like the ad!
The widely popular video game Bayonetta boasts an advertising campaign that rivals the onscreen sexism of the game itself. In Tokyo, a large billboard in the subway invited passersby to literally strip off flyers to reveal Bayonetta naked underneath. The campaign perpetuates and encourages sexual and physical harassment against women, an epidemic in Japan (and many other countries, including the United States). Check it out:
Mad World fans, take note! In cooperation with PSU's Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Department, we're hosting a Mad World intergenerational community forum!
Compromising Positions: Race and Sex in Advertising, A Mad World Intergenerational Community Forum
June 1, 2010 / 6:30pm
Portland State University Smith Memorial Ballroom
1825 SW Broadway, Portland
Now you may be saying to yourself, "But Kelsey, this is a weekly discussion blog, not a place for you to talk about events! And besides, lots of us don't live close enough to attend!" Well, right you are to say those things to yourself. But take heart, because what this particular post is for is to get us talking about the forum topic: race and sex in advertising. (Though we really do want you to come to the forum, too!)
Ladies and... ladies, welcome to the wonderful, bewildering world of eco-chic vagina cleaner feminine care products. Canadian company I Love My Muff offers products that are good for the environment, possibly but probably not that bad for you, definitely unnecessary AND, as an added bonus, with a host of conflicting positive and negative messages about the acceptability of vaginas!
Left: partial screenshot from ilovemymuff.com. Right: "pure spray"
OK, we are all pretty up on the concept of advertising at this point. Not to say that ads don't have an effect on us (they do), but when it comes to the reasoning behind most ad campaigns, we savvy media consumers are hip to what's going on. They're trying to sell us something. We get it. So what do we do with ads that let us "in" on the joke?
First things first: All of us at Bitch HQ are bursting with excitement because the folks at Oregon Humanities have awarded us a grant to explore the intersections of advertising, feminism, and media literacy. This virtual symposium is called "Mad World: Gender, Advertising, and Identity in a Mediated World" and over the next eight months you'll be seeing articles, blog posts, podcasts, and even a virtual book club on the website and in the magazine. Get your media-literacy pants on, people, because we're doing this thing!
On this, the official Mad World blog, we'll be discussing how advertising informs our identities and our ideas about sex and gender. Got an idea you'd like to discuss? Let us know! The Mad World blog will go up every Tuesday, and we want you to jump in early and often.
Let's start with a discussion of this ad:
This project was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH's grant program.