In a shocking turn of events no one could have possibly predicted, the Superbowl ads this year were somewhat sexist. (Much thanks to Feministe, who watched the ads so I didn’t have to.)
[Transcript: Schluby, geeky, yet reasonably good-looking white man with a coffee cup looks at conventionally attractive, femme woman, who is bending over. She glares at him; he looks away. She approaches him angrily speaking a non-English language, slaps him, then touches his shirt lustfully and whispers in his ear while groping his tie. He looks exaggeratedly turned on. She takes some of the coffee foam with a finger (some of it drops on her cleavage) and pulls him forward by his tie, when it turns out-- surprise-- she's actually a car. Voiceover: The Fiat 500 Abarath. You'll never forget the first time you see one.]
Here’s a fun game I like to play. It’s called Regender. What would this look like if you switched around the genders?
For instance, if you switch around the genders on today’s Google News, all the world political leaders and sports stars are female, and the only men who appear are a man who was murdered, an entertainment reporter, Beyonce’s son, a tech writer, and an intern Joanna F. Kennedy had sex with. If you switch around the genders on My Little Pony, you get a classic case of the Smurfette Principle, and an awesomely gender-non-conforming Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. And if you switch around the genders on this ad…
Well. I must say, while it is theoretically possible that someone could run an ad featuring a geeky woman and the amazingly hot dude she lusts after, only it turns out that the dude is actually a car, I am pretty sure no ad agency would ever be that cool. There is no inherent reason why “you think it is a hot person, but it is ACTUALLY A CAR” has to be gendered, and yet it is.
[Transcript: Brown M&M discusses her job with two white female humans; a white male human laughs at her, which one of the female humans says is because she is naked. The Brown M&M says that her shell is brown-colored and only an idiot would think she would show up to a party naked. Red M&M: "so it's that kind of party! Hit it!" He takes off his shell as LMFAO's Sexy And I Know It starts playing.]
Things I Have Learned From This Ad: Men are stupid and hypersexual and do not understand basic social rules like “don’t get naked at the party, unless this is a party that is specifically about getting naked.” Women have to put up with these idiots for reason or reasons unknown. Men believing they are sexy is inherently hilarious, because no men are actually sexy.
Seriously, if I believed that men were as they were portrayed in the media, I’d have to support lesbian/nonbinary separatism.
[A conventionally attractive woman of color puts on clothes in a sexy manner. "Guys, Valentine's Day is not that complicated. Give... and you shall receive." Slogan on screen: Happy Valentine's night.]
Next time I have to define the transactional model of sexuality, I am just linking to this ad. This is every bit of Myth-of-Men-Not-Being-Hot, Two-Rules-of-Desire, hegemonic-heterosexuality shite we spend so much time talking about. Women are the only ones who are physically attractive! Men are the only ones who want sex! Women are all basically sex workers who are too stupid to figure out how to have actual sex work and instead accept payment in flowers! Men have to buy things for women in order to get laid!
…Seriously, what is it with this year and objectifying women of color?
[Transcript: "Meet Lola." A fat, femme man of color in a pink tracksuit goes "mmmm" in front of a mansion, next to a conventionally attractive white woman who is the only one speaking. "The day he retired from football, Lola started chasing his biggest dream." A picture of Lola in a football uniform cuts to Lola in a suit looking at models in lingerie and making the stereotypical "mmmmm" noises and hand gestures photographers and fashion designers make at models. "His first step? Lola made his website with GoDaddy.com." Lola makes femme facial expressions and more "mmm" sounds at the computer. Blah blah blah sales pitch. Lola lies on a floaty couch thing with a drink at a party full of scantily clad models. "Lola dreams big..." The narrator makes a significant look at Lola. "and who's to argue?"]
Okay. Let me get this out of the way first: this ad is hella problematic. Although it is a fairly positive portrayal of a femme man of color, it’s pretty clear that the expected humor here is “he’s femme! And black! And fat! Isn’t this all just hilarious? Hahahahahaha fat people and femmes and black people are fuuuuuuunny!”
So, you know, if this ad were run, I’d have problems with it.
But this ad was banned. And I have to say I have serious problems figuring out what’s so objectionable about this ad that it was banned. I mean, it is far less offensive than many of the ads they ran. I kind of think it has to be “fat, femme men of color are so threatening to us that we can’t have an even slightly positive portrayal of them, even one that depicts their existence as hilarious, on our Big Manly Night of Manliness. Especially if it suggests that football players, instead of being paragons of masculinity, might occasionally be femme.”
Compare this to the ad GoDaddy actually ran…
[Transcript: God, I don't even know, some shit about naked women and bodypaint and something. The idea of transcribing this makes me want to get out the Peace Moon.]
Yeah. I know which one I’d want my small children to watch.