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.
Wow, Burger King did it. I was sure Carl's Junior had this in the bag, but no. Burger King has actually succeeded in airing the most sexist fast food commercial of all time. I'm talking, of course, about the ad for BK Burger Shots.
Where do I even begin? Let's start with the idea that women are so baby-obsessed that they think everything small is a baby. Which leads us to the even weirder idea that when women think they are in the presence of a baby, they make orgasm sounds and want to do whoever is holding said baby/small thing/BK burger shot. But what offends me most is the assumption that hamburgers are so alien to women that they don't even know you're supposed to eat them.
So, rather than watch the Super Bowl, I ate food and slept. In spite of my attempts to avoid the whole damn mess, however, I still wound up being forced to deal with the requisite oohs and aaaahs over the commercials. I'm not a big fan of commercials period--but Super Bowl ads are often especially problematic to me because they are well aware that they are appealing to the most base instinct of the macho drunk male getting it on with his macho drunk male friends (I read somewhere that more partner abuse happens during Super Bowl than any other time of the year).