The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of television commercials. Every year, ad agencies try to bring their top game to the commercials that run during the game. It’s not just a chance to sell things — although that is definitely high on the list. It’s a chance to wow everyone with your creativity, your humor and often, your sexism.
Yes, sexism. Unfortunately, commercials often dive full-on into outright sexism in an attempt at humor. Whether it’s the Mr. Potato Head ad (it’s funny because women won’t shut up), or last year’s Fiat ad (women, like Fiats, are both temperamental and for sale), or whatever fresh hell GoDaddy comes up with in any given year, ad agencies seem convinced that sex sells, and sexism sells even better.
I’d like to report that no sexism is going to be showing up on the television during this year’s game. Alas, I can’t. Here are three ads that show that sexism is alive and well.
3. “Kate Upton Washes a Car in Slow Motion,” Mercedes-Benz
It’s not necessarily the case that any commercial that starts and ends with objectification is absurdly sexist — David Beckham’s ad from last year was as objectifying as possible, but it’s hard to argue it’s sexist. Still, any ad based around “Hey, here’s someone pretty. Ogle them,” is already tiptoeing the line.
The Kate Upton spot does not disappoint, but not for the reason you’d expect. You see, the model isn’t so much washing her car as having it washed for her by a high school football team at a fundraiser. And they aren’t doing a very good job.
Yes, remarkably, an ad that exists as an excuse for people to ogle someone pretty manages to be even more sexist toward men than women. You see, in the presence of a pretty girl, we heterosexual and/or bisexual men become utterly unable to perform even basic tasks. We can’t stop looking at them, even for a second. It’s impossible!
2. “Perfect Match,” GoDaddy.com
It is not surprising that GoDaddy makes this list. GoDaddy exists to make this list. The only surprising thing is that they aren’t at the top.
In some ways, they’re off their game this year. I mean, sure, goofy-looking actor making out with a supermodel, whatever. Where’s the overly-cliched sexism? The implied nudity? The utter degradation of women? This is sad, GoDaddy. You guys are slipping. It’s nowhere near the level of this year’s most sexist ad — indeed, one of the most sexist ads I have ever seen.
1. “Prom (Worth It),” Audi
Have you ever wanted to sexually assault someone? Buy an Audi!
Yes, if you drive an Audi, it’s perfectly okay for you to march into prom, pick out a girl at random and kiss her whether she wants you to or not. It’s cool, you have an Audi! Oh, and if you do, you’re not going to get in trouble from her. Her boyfriend might punch you, though, because you’re stealing his stuff.
It’s hard even to snark at this ad. Its view of gender politics would have been outdated in the 1980s. I am gobsmacked that anyone, in 2013, could look at this ad and think it was anything other than appalling. At any rate, it’s pretty clear why this kid didn’t have a date for prom. No, not because he’s a bit of a geek; because he doesn’t actually view women as people.