It is no surprise that advertisements utilize sexism, patriarchy and racism to sell their products. When all the messages of an image are striped away, the real goal is promoting an object and profiting from the sales. However, due to the complicated advertising images different messages are being linked with the item being purchased, simultaneously. Popular culture is definitely found in these images and it has a reciprocal effect too. Images in magazines are becoming the next big thing in popular culture, based on an advertisement determines what’s in style.
Sexism in advertisements is never subtle recognizable to the views. It ridicules how women and sexuality have been intertwined into almost every ad. I see the female roll of the seductress as a sexist act, because it is almost always portrayed that way. In most car commercials it’s not a man, laying on the hood of the car seducing the audience. As Berger states of a naked paining “You painted a naked women because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the women whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure” (p.51), can be applied directly to car advertisements. The women is a seductress (equivalent to nakedness) but she is only behaving that way because of the car (mirror), but her vanity in front of the car gives the audience permission to that visual without guilt. The Beauty Myth also states “sexualized image of female models that, though only slightly subtler than those aimed at men, are meant to convey female sexual liberation” (p.69). This leads into patriarchy because it is understood that the commercial is aimed at men.
women and sexuality intertwined into this ad for a car
Patriarchy is taught to us from a very young age and we learn our roles as men or women. In most advertisement men are manly and women are supporters to his manly role. In her article Understanding Patriarchy, Bell Hooks breaks down the roles of both genders to maintain patriarchy stating, “By placing the blame for the perpetuation of sexism solely on men, these women could maintain their own allegiance to patriarchy” (p.25). I think advertisement images play to support patriarchy and only deliberately stylishly refute it. Most advertisements have men chopping wood and coming home to food being prepared by their wives, only when fashion is involved do women get to wear pants and combat boots to look fabulous walking down the street. It is never to combat patriarchy that advertisements have unisex clothing, but rather to provide something to be sold that is defies the norm of women’s clothing.
women wearing dress vs. women wearing pants
Racism in advertisements is rarely noticeable but always stereotypically accurate. In the case of Bell Hooks article The oppositional Gaze, Black Female Spectators, “ one’s enjoyment of a film wherein representations of blackness were stereotypically degrading and dehumanizing co-existed with a critical practice that restored presence where it was negated” (p.117) supports the fact that stereotypes are the ones normally depicted in mass media. It is easier to play along with the stereotype a population has become accustomed to then to develop non-humorous realistic depictions of real problems faced by different minority groups. In these advertisements that depict racist stereotypes, children learn these stereotypes and either embody them or are bullied on their basis. If you are a black male you are tough, and either you show your strength by bulling others or others bully you for being a weak black male. It is contradicting.
Do advertisers realize how influential their ads are? Yes. Do they care? No. Advertisements promote movements and popular culture but for all the wrong reasons. The Punk movement was a way for people to rebel, and Punks were really feared because they were antigovernment, however the movement became a style to be purchased for a small fee. Due to advertisement a whole movement became misrepresented and sold to the masses (Ewen). The reverse also occurs in which negative images are promoted in mass media or advertisements are penetrating into popular culture. This is supported by Where the Girls are? in which it states “mass media helps make us the cultural schizophrenics we are today” (p.8) by promoting different images and contradicting those images. Women need to be strong but vulnerable, sexy and virginal, fully opposites, which can’t coexist, promoted as the ideal meaning of being a women. Other things being negatively influenced by advertisements are what are titled Children as Sex Object in the article Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising. In the few pages that the author dedicates to these advertisements it becomes surreal to imagine how these images are used to over sexualize children. It is bizarre to image that a child was made to pose so that “she has the illusion of cleavage, created by body posture that creates a shadow in the cleavage area” (p.65). Why are these children not wearing any cloth?
How movements become mass media
I think advertisements can’t be shut down because they sell goods. They make people feel the need to bye an object and that emits a feeling. It would be very beneficial if ant-advertisement of children were possible. The use of children to sell items that involve them not having cloth on should be illegal [I don’t get it at all]. Limiting exposure to advertisements is a way to combat them by blocking the negative message. It might seem like a small-scale comparison to advocacy advertising but it promotes the well being of the self and that unsubscribe you from the mass message and allows for an oppositional gaze to develop.
Berger, John. "Ways of Seeing". London, 1973.Print.
Cortese, Anthony Joseph Paul. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads." Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising. Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Print
Ewen, Stuart. All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture, New York:1988. Print
Hooks, Bell. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. Atria: 2004. Print
Hooks, Bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. South End Press: 1992. Print