What is it about Super Bowl Sunday that brings out the worst in advertisers?
Admittedly, I did not watch the game through and through but I did tune in for the commercials and I have to say that although I wasn’t surprised, I’ve about had it with the sexist and stereotypical undertones that advertisers so happily use to get the loudest laughs.
Let’s take a look at this year’s most offensive commercials.
Doritos – Lucky Day
This Doritos ad takes undressing a woman with your eyes to a whole new level. In the commercial, a woman walking down the street has her clothes literally ripped off her body by the force of a man snacking on a bag of Doritos. I realize the act was unintentional, but was it really necessary to strip a woman of her clothes to “prove” that Doritos are crunchy? They’re chips–we know they’re crunchy. And really, how many women do you know who would look like that if their clothes were magically ripped off while walking down the street? I thought so. The guys may get a kick out of watching this one, but women are left feeling unattractive and inadequate (if not offended!).
Teleflora – Talking Flowers
After watching this commercial I will be sure to steer clear from Teleflora if I ever want to send someone flowers–and you should too! In the commercial a woman at work receives a box of flowers that, when opened, begins to verbally attack her starting with “Oh no, look at the mug on you” and ending with the final blow of, “No one wants to see you naked.”
Let me see if I got this straight:
- Only a woman that is attractive can land a man.
- If said attractive woman lands a man he should send flowers.
- If said man sends flowers to said attractive woman in a box it means she’s really not attractive and she should resort to her romance novels and “fat, smelly cat” for companionship and love.
Go Daddy – Enhanced
If the Teleflora ad wasn’t offensive enough then this Go Daddy ad does the job. In the commercial Sarah Brestlin covers the breaking news of an “enhancement hearing” where women are on trial for allegedly enhancing their breasts–or so it suggests. By the end of the commercial all the women have ripped open their shirts to reveal ample cleavage and, of course, the Go Daddy logo, to a courtroom that fills with applause and a standing ovation. In doing so, the commercial suggests that enhancing your image means enhancing your breasts and, oh yeah, visiting GO Daddy for a domain name or website. This comparison is a stretch and indicative that the only reason the scantily clad women are there is to appeal to the predominantly male audience watching the game.
What was most infuriating for me was that the women willingly objectify themselves (ripping opening their shirts ala a primetime Girls Gone Wild) and in doing so are met with such praise (rousing applause). Again, the take away for women is that they’re not good enough, but they can be if they follow certain rules (boob job, clothes, make-up etc).
Go Daddy – Danica Shower
Sexism couldn’t be more crystal clear than in Go Daddy’s second Super Bowl ad “Danica Shower.” In the commercial a young man is able to lure women into a shower, one with a webcam of course, by using the power of the internet supplied by Go Daddy. This is called voyeurism and it’s a crime, but in the commercial it’s suppose to represent a man’s ideal world, one in which, with the click of a button, he can call on any woman for his own enjoyment.
In discussing sexism in Super Bowl ads, Kate Harding of Salon couldn’t have said it any better:
“It’s so freakin’ routine that women are treated as objects for the sexual pleasure of men, we’re actually expected to laugh at the concept of a woman being stripped (and/or taken to an unknown location) against her will, because she’s completely under the control of a man who wants a better view of her boobies…These things are known as “sexual assault” and “kidnapping” when men do them in the real world, but if they’re accomplished on TV by the power of a corn chip or a Web host or a six-pack, they’re just high-larious riffs on what a Martian anthropologist would have to note as an apparently common American male fantasy. Of … sexual assault and kidnapping. With no accountability.”
And what Kate doesn’t touch on is that these commercials also (and a whole lot of other ones out there too) give women an impossible standard to measure themselves up against, hammering home the message that we just aren’t good enough (not skinny enough, pretty enough, sexy enough) as we are.
At least this year Sports Illustrated and Playboy, companies that only profit by objectifying women and their bodies, had to cancel their yearly Super Bowl party due to the crumbling economy. However, the fact that parties dripping with playmates and swimsuit models are a staple of each year’s game speaks miles about this great American pastime (insert sarcasm here).
I know the tradition of the Super Bowl isn’t going anywhere. Neither is the cultural phenomenon of advertisers competing to produce the funniest or cleverest ads. But what does need to go is the notion that sexism is an acceptable means to sell anything and that it’s the fastest, surest way to get the biggest laugh out loud moments.
It’s not funny and America should stop laughing.
Photo by Mike Licht used under a Creative Commons license.