Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Gender Bending But Not Breaking: The Displacement of Objectification in Super Bowl Advertising by Bernie

Bernie's Blog (excerpt)

At first glance, this year's Super Bowl ads appeared to avoid, almost entirely, the objectification of women that has been the hallmark of previous broadcasts. While the trend has been heading this way the last few years (reflecting, possibly, an attempt to appeal to growing female audience), as recently as last year we found plenty to talk about.
This year perceptive critics like Steven Johnson
didn't even mention any portrayals of women, noting, instead, that "the strangely dominant theme of the night's ads was the undertone of violence."
Gender, though, played a role throughout the night -- even if it was hidden behind closed doors or behind role reversals.
The only company that took the old-fashioned route was Go Daddy. Even their ad, however, included elements of ironic self-awareness of the straight-up exploitation of their previous Super Bowl ads. A well-coiffed executive tells us about all the great parts of the company, but when he opens the door to the marketing department, it reveals a party of over-the-top excess, featuring their "Go Daddy Girl" from previous years as well as an assortment of ridiculous, offensive partygoers.


My Response

Your analytical interpretation definitely raises questions and concerns about the negative portrayals of women and men in advertisements in general, not just super bowl ads. These companies really have a lot of nerve thinking that gender can be intermediated in ads without taking gender issues over the limit; there is no compromising when it comes to gender and companies can not just do and say what they please when it comes to gender.

However, by incorporating ads that “mock masculinity” we aren’t nipping the problem of gender stereotypes, but we’re reinforcing it. The ad for Chevy HHR is a great commercial when it comes to role reversing in gender representation. If I had seen men in the Chevy and woman running toward the car prancing and panting over the car, I would have been very upset at the negative portrayal of women as idiotic and superficial for behaving that way over a car. But, since it was the opposite, I did not care to think twice; which can also be counted for as a negative portrayal of men, assuming that all men go goo-goo-ga-ga over cars.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

Nice response to the blog you found Alley-
not only was the blog itself a great find, but the role of masuclinities is all too frequently overlooked when trying to analyze messages about gender. Do you think that this ad has a satirical aim, or is more of an attempt to reverse the roles for the sake of humor and (of course) sales (which would mean that the gender roles norms aren't really challenged in this commercial's depiction of the women in the car w/ men going crazy over the car instead of the women)?