Thursday, July 1, 2010



Oh, and today's thoughts: (I'm too frustrated to get my post in the right order)

Having watched an excellent episode of the Gruen Transfer tonight, I learned that they were doing a special report online regarding portrayal of women in the advertising industry and with little else to do at 3 in the morning I went and watched it. I'm currently... (checking) ... 10 minutes in and already I've been moved to type out a new post due simply to the comments of the guest panel member, Melinda Tankard Reist.

I can't remember how they pitched her, but she's essentially your run-of-the-mill feminist - nothing too crazy, though they did presciently sit her next to Todd rather than Russel. For those who may take offense at my apparently casual linking of "crazy" and "feminist", you know what I mean. Anyway, all they've done is play an ad with sexualising content and then discussed whether it's ultimately sexist or simply an undeniable facet of the advertising industry (the two are far from mutually exclusive).

However, Melinda keeps bringing the conversation down with unconsidered and self-absorbed comments. For example, the first ad they've played is a rather crass affair from Lynx (should we expect anything less?) in which seemingly endless numbers of bikini-ed women fight tooth and nail to get to a man who has recently sprayed himself with Lynx deodorant. I'll discuss my own impressions of this ad later on, but for now a run-through of what she has said.

Firstly, she believes the ad portrays women as "mindless, hyper-sexualised robots" with no consideration for their "inner beauty", and secondly she derides the ad as misogynist because it only portrays sexy women. Interestingly, the best refutation of this came from the other woman on the panel, Jane Caro. She pointed out, quite rightly, that all this ad is is a sexual fantasy. However, she didn't particuarly elaborate on this so I'll take that up myself:

People are attracted to attractive people. That is the point of attractive people. Every single person finds different things attractive but ultimately most people have a very similar idea of what is attractive. The reason for this is that there are a number of biological responses to physical attractiveness (here's a full article) that exert a powerful influence on the mind. Humans are biologically wired to want sex, and they are biologically wired to want sex with an attractive mate (to bring about healthy babies!).

On a more psychological (don't let that term fool you into thinking that any scientific psychology will be applied here) level, everyone wants to be attractive. We desperately, desperately want our gender of preference to find us physically attractive and go to great lengths to achieve this. Speaking as a man, women seem to have a supreme advantage in the fact that they can actively be attractive, whereas if a bloke is deemed attractive it seems to be an accidental or passive affair and anyone who actually tries is a "sleaze". Maybe I'm just bitter about my mediocre looks...

But that is all this ad is setting out to achieve (and it does achieve it) - presenting a product to a man that will make him physically attractive to women. Sexy women, too. So the sales pitch is twofold

1. Buying this product will get you sex with biologically attractive women and
2. Buying this product will make you physically attractive, just as so many men wish they could be.

That is damned good advertising and I can only commend Russel for having the balls to admit that he really liked this ad.

Part II

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