You, like the majority of America, probably sat down and watched the Super Bowl. Sports fans watch for the game, while some watch for the original commercials. I don’t know about you, but I sensed a lot of sexism in some of the ads this year. I realize that if you try hard enough you can turn anything into something sexist, racist, or perverse. A lot of people I know, women and men, make sexist jokes about both genders, and I can understand light-hearted banter among friends.
However, when companies invest money in sexist ads, it does bother me. The Super Bowl is viewed by much of the American population and costs advertisers millions of dollars. Why then did I and many others see a number of elements in these ads that were offensive?
Men were portrayed as stupid, spineless, whipped idiots and women were shown as overbearing, harping nags or oversexed harlots, both stereotypical views of gender. People may laugh about these stereotypes, but when do advertisers cross the line?
Firstly, there was a series of Go Daddy commercials that exhibited heavily made-up women with normal work attire on and then shows one of them ripping off her work clothes in a sexual manner to show a Go Daddy tank top. Who really knows that www.godaddy.com is a site for registering domain names?
These ads aren’t “too hot for TV”; they just look like commercials for a pornographic website. I don’t think objectifying women is the only way to get people to visit your website. In fact, according to Reporter Laura Petrecca for USA Today, Go Daddy failed to capture interest and ended up low on the Ad Meter list.
The thing that annoys me more about this commercial than the other sexist advertisements I saw on Super Bowl Sunday is the women in the commercial actually wanted to participate in the ad and lend themselves to the idea that it is acceptable material for a company to use.
The worst part about the Go Daddy ads, including the one aired during the Super Bowl, other than less-than-par acting, is that a female race car driver, Danica Patrick, is the main star. Being a female in a career usually filled by men is cool, and it disappoints
me that she would take part in such a commercial. Seeing Megan Fox in the bath tub doesn’t make me want to buy a Motorola phone, but it doesn’t surprise me that she’d submit to that kind of advertising.
Another ad that I found offensive was the Dodge Charger commercial. You could argue that the ad is directed toward men, but the theme is demeaning to both genders regardless. The ad, titled “Man’s Last Stand”, consists of several close-up shots of different adult men. One voice speaks throughout the advertisement, implying that all men share these thoughts. The main idea is that the man getting to drive the car is the last thing his significant other will let him do.
In the beginning, the men are complaining about cleaning up their own messes, going to work on time, and basically doing tasks that every functional member of society does. This element makes women look like nags, and men look like disobedient children who don’t want to go to school or eat their vegetables.
On the last few close-ups, the men go through a laundry list of things they don’t like to do for their significant other or things they have to put up with from their wives or girlfriends. Women and men in relationships both put up with things they don’t necessarily like. This part of the ad makes their spouses (ahem, women in general) look like evil, air-headed tyrants.
The most obnoxious thing about the whole commercial is that the thoughts the men are supposed to be thinking imply that he is the bread winner, probably the person who bought the car. I don’t know any guys who ask to drive their own cars, and why would any man stay in such an awful relationship? The ad reflects badly on both sexes.
The Bridgestone/Firestone commercial includes a man trading his wife for a set of tires. It is pretty obvious why some people would consider this ad to be offensive. The main theme of the clip is objectifying women. Did I mention the wife being traded looks like a super model?
It might seem that Flo TV’s ad producers were looking for an easy way to offend females. The whole clip takes place in a women’s underwear department and a sports announcer comments that the man in view had his spine removed by his girlfriend. Literally calling the man spineless and implying that the woman was over-bearing and forcing him to shop with her instead of watching the game. At the end of the clip the announcer says, “Change out of that skirt Jason” which is basically implying that he’s a woman.
The slogan from the Dockers’s ad was pretty straight forward as well, “calling all men, it’s time to wear the pants.” This is referring to the old metaphor about who should “wear the pants”, or who should be “in charge”. Though I admit a herd of middle-aged, slightly over-weight men marching around a field in their underwear singing about being pants-less is comical, I think it only adds more emphasis on what many of the Super Bowl commercials were aiming for and shouted “men are spineless and need to take the control back from the female population!”
According to channel nine news, the Docker’s ad was at the bottom of the ad meter list along with Go Daddy’s repetitive shirt ripping commercials. In this case, sex didn’t sell and neither did misogyny.
Are advertisers running out of ideas or do they think these images of gender are harmless?
Along with some offensive ads, there were plenty of examples of funny ads that got their point across without belittling either sex. For example, the Google.com commercial was simple and easy to understand. The Dorito’s chips ad featured a man and women in traditional gender roles (going out on a first date), however it wasn’t sexist.
The VW commercial and the homeaway.com ad both presented entertaining clips without misogyny or a stab at men. Above all they effectively sold their product, not a stereotypical gimmick that people remember instead of the product.
Even for a TV event or channel that people assume is generally directed toward men, advertisers should keep in mind that women and men alike may be offended by the material. Nearly 40 percent of Super Bowl viewers were women this year, according to forbes.com. For some reason, advertisers still assume that portraying women as nagging, man-abusers and implying that men can’t stand up for themselves as a good marketing tool.
It isn’t funny, it isn’t effective, and it shouldn’t be acceptable on such a large scale.