Monday, February 6

Sex Sells - Super Bowl Commercials

(we'll come back to the fat dog later)

This is a term that is near and dear to many of my scholarly peers' hearts. And it is ALL OVER this article (linked above) as well as tons of Facebook conversations about the Super Bowl commercials from last night.

What is heteronormativity, you ask? Heteronormativity--in Cortnie-terms, is when your society is under hegemonic-ly heterosexual values. Therefore, the NORM is that everyone is straight and that every woman likes men and every man loves hot women. How is our society heteronormative? The advertising, among other things, of course!

Sooo, did you watch the Super Bowl? Did you see how drunk Madonna seemed? That's besides the point. It would be sad to me if anyone thought that I wasn't watching the game to critique the commercials. Of course I was. Specifically to point out the blatant sexism.

So, NPR posted an article today (linked above) about hidden themes of the commercials. They named their first two hidden themes (I'll talk about one of them later) and the third is, undoubtedly, sex. They then posted two out of the MANY commercials:

I saw a TON of threads today on Facebook about the commercials, so I can't necessarily quote where I saw every single mention, BUT there were people jumping for joy that David Beckham was being sexualized in a commercial, saying things like finally it's not just women! Women aren't the only ones being objectified! Woo, we've won. Um, no. Women are objectified in random ass commercials, like fucking yogurt commercials or commercials for salad. How, you ask? The women in those commercials are just so damn excited about yogurt, all smiles, which feeds into the notion and popular idea that women should just constantly be smiling. How bad could it be to be a woman?

I digress. Whatever the sexism, this article really pissed me off. Underneath the David Beckham video, the NPR article writer, Linton Weeks, says, "Some of this year's spots are steamier than a pot of lobsters. H&M appeals to women with this David Beckham ad." Um..  huh? I'm sorry, no I didn't mind the commercial, it's a nice change from only seeing naked women (even though NO ONE should be objectified or hypersexualized) BUT I have this strange, thumping feeling that maybe, just MAYBE some gay men watch the Super Bowl and maaaaybe.. just maybe H&M knew that and was appealing to not just women but also to men that like men. Maybe? Also, in saying that H&M was appealing to women with their ad, does that mean lesbians aren't women? Do you have to like men to fully be a woman? Think about that.

Another thing I want to talk about is the Volkswagen Fat dog commercial. 

Awesome for this.. dog.. wanting to get into shape to chase this car. But, in the beginning, Volkswagen is giving off the impression that you're supposed to want to laugh when this fat dog is trying to work out. Even I giggled. What's wrong with that picture? Fat dogs (or people) aren't supposed to work out because well, they're fat, and when they try to maybe improve their mobility or health.. people in better off conditions just laugh? That's probably the top reason why many fat people don't go into gyms or walk on the streets for simple exercise, that's at least true for me. There's something else irking me, I'm not sure how to pinpoint it... but.. this dog's life is apparently SO MUCH better after it loses weight. Even though Volkswagen isn't blatantly saying GET THIN GET THIN, it seems like their trying to say something. 

So, there ya are. What do you all think?



  1. Honestly, I could care less about the women. Sure, I like beautiful women and what not (who's to say what is beautiful, it's relative) but I think that commercials, and advertisements for that matter do much better off with humor in them. The fact that humor has no boundaries gender wise is not only a smart corporate move but is in my opinion a logical move. I think the placement of women in ads, from a straight males perspective, is dumb. You are limiting your audience and not appealing to everyone. I did enjoy Volkswagon's commercials, epsecially the "Bark Side" one they aired much more than any Go Daddy, or model featuring commercial.

    1. Thank you for the thoughts! I feel like many straight men should be outraged with how advertisers sell them products!

    2. I think you're overreacting a bit about the dog commercial. It's cute. I don't think it speaks negatively about overweight people at all. I definitely agree we should be positive about our bodies-- but exercising is a good thing... not bad. If you love your body, you will want to take care of it-- and exercising (as much as I personally HATE doing it) is good for me. My family runs the risk of heart disease and working out helps to lower my chances of that. I'm still not skinny or super in shape, but I feel better knowing that I'm helping my body be healthy.

      Also. I highly doubt people laugh at overweight people at the gym. I think it's great seeing people work out, regardless of their age, weight, gender, etc. because they're trying to improve their health-- which is awesome.

    3. I've been made fun of at the gym. So yes, people do laugh at overweight people there. Sorry, but they do. I know it's ridiculous.