Monday, February 4, 2013

Superbowl Sexism Watch 2013!

Ah yes, it is time for my 5th annual Superbowl advertisement sexism watch!

I am happy to say that I declare this year's situation to be...drum roll...STATUS QUO! By that, I mean that gender stereotypes were out in full force BUT there wasn't a single commercial which set us back 50 years. And there were actually a few which were kinda good. Kinda.

Same old stereotypes and problematic content:
-Go Daddy's smart + sexy ad. A hot girl is sexy. A nerdy dude is smart. Together, they equal Go Daddy with a lot of disgusting kissing noises. YAWN. BLAH. OVER IT. I mean...for Go Daddy, it was actually pretty mild. For life, it was annoying as hell. Plus, when would it EVER be a nerdy girl with a hot guy? (Hint: never.)

-Audi had a commercial where a teen is going to prom stag, but he takes his dad's car and he feels like such a bad ass that he storms in and kisses the prom queen. I know that people want to pass this kind of thing as romantic or whatever  but I will ALWAYS be uncomfortable with the "sweeping her off her feet" mentality because HOW DO YOU KNOW SHE WANTED SWEPT? Consent is a simple concept and there was none in that commercial. In a perfect world, there's a whole back story that we can't see, but let's be honest, if we don't see it, it doesn't exist. All we (and millions of teens everywhere) see is the story portrayed. At best, it's really problematic. At worst: a contributor to our rape culture.

-The Calvin Klein shiny, ripped dude in underwear caught my, ahem, attention. Ok, I can admit it's a little interesting to see a guy so heavily objectified during the Superbowl, but 1) I don't think we win by having men be objectified too and 2) when a dude is objectified, he's still portrayed as strong, active, athletic, and a human. Women are so often reduced to being passive, idle, dismembered bodies.

-Amy Poehler for Best Buy. It kills my soul to put her on the "same old" side of things because I love her more than I have words for. BUT while the commercial was hilarious, she was kiiiiiiiiiinda being a dumb blonde and that's not my favorite thing ever.

-The Coke race series of ads. The group of women are showgirls while the men are adventurers. Dumb. I mean, yes, the women won, but still. Come on. Plus, it's being criticized for being racist.

-Speaking of racism, what about the VW ad where the white guy is "happy" epitomized by his appropriation of a Rasta/Jamaican accent? WHAT THE HELL? VW, you're better than that.

Interesting takes:
-The Hyundai ad with The Flaming was a dad parenting and having a great time with his kids (and The Flaming Lips.) Not bad. Not bad at all. (Hipsters, be damned! I don't care if you're upset that TFL are now "mainstream.")

-Toyota had an ad with Kaley Cuoco where she can apparently grant wishes and they work through what the family wants. It did have a bit of a fatphobic undercurrent to it, but when the little girl wished to be a princess, she became a bad ass warrior one, in a scene that could have been out of Braveheart.

-Jeep had a long RAH 'MERICA ad voiced over by Oprah. (What did that cost!?) I'm not really into the ad in general, but when they show an American soldier at the end, it's a woman of color. So they get points for that, at least.

Like I said, overall there wasn't as much blatant awfulness as usual, but there's certainly so much more progress to be made. At least I can chalk up Superbowl 2013 to being the year where I didn't audibly groan at my least, not too loud. Ok, I did. Whatever.


  1. My boyfriend almost never does this kind of thing but even he admitted that the Calvin Klein ad made him feel uncomfortable. "Am I supposed to look like that," he asked. It broke my heart.

    1. One part of me thinks, "now they know what it's like!" The other part reminds me, "That's not progress!!!"

    2. I know what you mean. I had the same thought briefly, but really, making men feel insecure about their bodies is not helping anyone. I've been in treatment for an eating disorder alongside several young guys.

    3. Yeah, exactly. It reminds me of that whole "women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition" phrase. We can make it better for EVERYONE.

      I head a few years ago that the fastest growing bulimic population was adolescent boys.

  2. I thought the Doritos ad -- in which a father is supposed to be playing a pick-up game with his buddies finds his daughter all princess-ed out dancing around her room with Doritos... so he joins her, loud makeup and tutus and all. And then his friends come to see where he is and THEY join her dancing around her room with Doritos -- was awesome. It wasn't some shameful thing that they were wearing dresses and makeup and partying with a six-year-old - they were having a good time and eating... well not good food but the snack they wanted at the same time. The daughter was loving it, the dad and his buddies were loving it... the mom was not thrilled that one of them was wearing her wedding dress but she kind of shrugged it off because her kid and her husband were happy.

    ... I liked it.

  3. Wow, did you just HAVE to mention Amy Poehler's hair color? What was the point? Hair color is just hair color. And she wasn't being "dumb", she was being funny. Sheesh! When will that ridiculous stereotype go away? It only will, when people actually stop talking about it!

    1. Really!? I think they made her dumber than she is for that commercial and that bothered me. I don't actually think blondes are dumb...I want them to not display that in their stupid ad.

      Yes, everyone knows if you just ignore the use of stereotypical characters THEY GO AWAY! Why didn't I think of that?! Bless you and your infinite wisdom.


This blog has strict comment moderation intended to preserve a safe space. Moderation is managed solely by the blog author. As such, even comments made in good faith will be on a short delay, so please do not attempt to resubmit your comment if it does not immediately appear. Discussion and thoughtful participation are encouraged, but abusive comments of any type will never be published. The blog author reserves the right to publish/delete any comments for any reason, at her sole discretion.

TL;DR Troll comments are never published, so don't waste your time.