Sophomore year of college, the Resident Adviser in my dorm held an event. Interested parties could convene in a chosen room in the dorm’s basement to watch Jean Kilbourne‘s Killing Us Softly - a documentary on the image of women in advertising. At the time, I was all about dorm events and had a vague feminist self-image, so I went. It was fantastic.
I recently rediscovered Jean Kilbourne (via Pinterest, randomly). Selections of her speeches are on YouTube thanks to the Media Education Foundation. They are definitely worth watching – Kilbourne is a very engaging speaker.
Beyond the obvious obsession with thinness, Kilbourne highlights other ways in which women are portrayed in advertising. Most notable to me was the emphasis on women being quiet and passive – and that this emphasis starts at a very young age.
My personal experience with advertising (or, at least, that which I actively remember) pertains more to commercials. My mother and I have long lamented the irritating portrayal of women and the modern family. In short, the “Mom” does all. Men are idiots (on par with having an extra puppy to care for, say). This is repeated over and over. Moms are shown selecting and preparing food (“Choosy Moms Choose Jif!”). If children are shown assisting, they are little girls (“It’s Shake and Bake… and I helped!”). Men know little to nothing about childcare (bringing to mind a recent commercial for some disinfectant being called into duty after Dummy Daddy changed Baby’s diaper on the kitchen counter).
Hulu seems to think that the largest thing missing in my life, at present, is DiGiorno’s Pizza. This is the only reason I can think for which the commercial for said pizza is shown during every. single. break. in Modern Family. The commercial makes me mental. In short, Wife comes home to find her beige carpet befouled with muddy footprints. Husband and friends sit by, oblivious, watching football. As Wife is likely the person who arranged for carpet cleaning, she is pissed. Husband tries to blame the pizza delivery guy. Oh, foiled! Wife finds the DiGiornio’s box on the counter! Husband (and Husband’s Friend, inexplicably) are set to work cleaning up their mess like bad children.
“Women be Bitches!” I commented to Will.
“Yeah, well Men be Stupid!” he responded, showing that it cuts both ways.
So, what are your thoughts? Are their any ads (print or otherwise) that make you crazy? Have you seen examples of brands or companies doing it right?