Monday, January 27, 2003

In a post-Super Bowl haze.

I just posted a longish rant about misogyny in advertising over at my blog, with links to further reading for those who want to "drill down." Here's part of the post:

There's a reason I don't watch football, and it's not that I find the idea of big, burly men running into each other with the objective of causing great bodily harm to be absolutely brutal and asinine. No, after watching Super Bowl XXVII in all its mindless glory, the point was driven home boob shot after ass shot after boob shot after ass shot: I don't watch football out of principle stemming from the misogynistic trash that permeates almost all the empty, non-game-play airtime. ... The delightful male company with whom I watched the game were courteous enough not to get too excited every time the TV ad came on with those two barely-clad chicks running on the beach with overly clad hockey and football players. They also were savvy enough to groan at all the "Alias" ads featuring the (yes, gorgeous) Jennifer Garner vamping for the TV audience in an assortment of trashy lingerie. "It's come to THIS? So much for subtlety," they said. (Um, like lack of subtlety is new in football ad programming?) They were a tad ecstatic for the new "Charlie's Angels," but the cheers and hand slapping were less for Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu and more for the presence of Bernie Mac--apparently the new male icon for "cool." I'll give 'em that.

But those were the boys in my circle. What I couldn't help thinking about--and what turned my stomach and pummeled my psyche, driving my body deeper and deeper into the sofa until I was nothing but a pancake saturated with disgust--was the reaction of the millions of men not in my circle. I know the guys I was hangin' with yesterday are sensible and sensitive, and attuned to negative, misogynistic stereotypes reinforced by this kind of broadcast. (Right, guys?) But there are a whole lot of men out there who don't go that deep.

So what do they come away from that game with? Probably without even realizing it? An outrageously skewed impression of women's purpose on the planet. Watch the Super Bowl and you learn that: (a) men are the aggressors, and women are around to be subordinate to men, present only to cheer them on (ideally while jiggling big balls of streamers along with their bodies); (b) men are sexy beasts, and women are here to satisfy male sexual fantasies; (c) men try to be there for women, but come on--women just get in the way during important things like TV-broadcast sporting events (the commercial where the guy tuned out the woman so that as she spoke, a football announcer's voice replaced hers; and at the end, as he comes back to reality, she calls him "such a good listener," making her seem not only unimportant to the action, but also plain stupid); and (d) men are hilarious, but women are entertaining only when they're nearly naked or are easy targets to be the butt (sometimes quite literally) of men's jokes.

Women are beautiful. But what you don't get when you watch things like football is the real qualities that make them beautiful. Men in the games and ads are portrayed as strong, funny, witty, intelligent, exciting and downright badass. But in real life, women are all those things too. And in watching, you'd never know it.

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