I have seen a lot of videos about sustainability issues but this particular video has me thinking all kinds of thoughts.
This is what I saw:
I have been yapping to those that will listen that there is an increasing crassness in our public communications. It is that slippery balance of finding a way to break through a signal amid all of the noise that is being produced to distract us.
In that sense, this video is an effective commercial or public service announcement. You remember it, mainly for that woman pulling down her shorts and the sound of the toilet flush.
In the forest.
There is an information card toward the end of the commercial that explains that American toilet paper comes from virgin trees. It’s painful to know that a tree got whacked in order for me to wipe my behind.
Because really, I am a tree lover.
Is this necessary?
I have a flood of questions though. My deeper concern: do we need to go this far to get peopleís attention? I donít want to be called a prude but did I really need to see this woman pull down her pants in order to be aware of toilet paper usage and conservation issues?
I donít think so.
Is it okay to use sexual stereotypes to get us to do the right thing?
We have tried facts, information and reason only to be told by some political and faith based organizations that we are foolish, there is no problem.
It’s certainly not clear that this form of awareness is helpful or will convince them otherwise.
Can the image of the beautiful playful pixie be used to get people talking about environmental issues?
Yes, you can use both men and women in fun creative ways. There is a difference between sexy, sexual and sexist, however. The producers of this video, with good intentions, use a sexist wrapper to convey a message of responsible toilet paper usage.
The problem is that this †type of visual short hand happens every day to sell commercial goods, products and services using a womanís body to sell just about anything.
Should environmental film and videographers slip on over to use this kind of advertising shorthand to make their points?
No. If you love and respect the planet that should include loving and respecting men and women as full beings and not as over-used widgets to sell a concept.
Would I have liked it better if a good looking man were in the video instead?
There is no question. Sure, I want to see a chunk of hunk romp through the forest and pull down his shorts. Iím not a saint. I am human. Iíd like it until he started doing what she did and then I would be in the same place.
Baffled. Saddened. Disconnected.
I donít hate the commercial. There have been far worse advertisements popping up on the Internet. There are more to come. It just doesn’t seem ok to perpetuate a stereotype in the service of a greater good.
Not even to save a tree.
Photo from the commercial Helene Toilet Paper - Practice Being Me by Model Entertainment 2011