Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Silence of The Wife

Let’s see if my readers are catching on. What’s wrong with this commercial?

If you guessed the over-protective father/daughter purity factor, you get a B+ for noticing the painfully obvious. But that’s not what’s really wrong. If you guessed the somewhat snide comment from the boy sitting at the coffee table regarding his father staring at that woman from his soccer game, the father’s face, and the mother’s silence, you get an A+!

Allow me to break this down further for you. The Man walks in to his loving, “normal” family exclaiming that he got this new awesome phone plan. The Wife remarks how she can call a “Vivian” (assumingly her best friend or sister), Middle Child says something random and quirky, and The Innocent Son then comments how the father can call the woman his father is always staring at from his soccer game. The Man looks visibly disturbed. He looks disturbed by the fact that his Innocent Son has blown up his spot—his little secret of the pleasure he gets from staring at some random woman, perhaps one of the soccer moms, at his son’s game which his attention is suppose to be on instead. Ok, now FREEZE at 0:11! Rewind like, one second where The Innocent Son is calling out his The Man. The Wife is drawing and never stops. She doesn’t even flinch or put down her pencil. She doesn’t look up, she doesn’t say a word, she doesn’t seem the least bit disturbed and actually, her most of her, including her head/face, is completely out of the screen shot so you can’t even see if she glances up menacingly at The Man at The Innocent Son’s comment! Why the silence?! Perhaps she is use to hearing this sort of thing. Perhaps she is so use to the male gaze herself that this sort of comment doesn’t even register. Surely none of the women on T-Mobile’s marketing team noticed that this was horribly offensive and WRONG. Why is it that The Innocent Son, who is actively involved in his soccer game, is so hyper-aware that his father, The Man, is staring at another woman, so much so that he feels the need to mention it in a silent room in front of his mother, The Wife, yet there is absolutely no reaction from said Wife?! It should be noted that The Innocent Son usurps The Man’s power for a brief moment, throwing off the “normalcy” of the household. I’m almost rooting for this kid because he seems to be utilizing his innocence to his benefit while calling out his dad. I don’t think this Innocent Son is so young that he has said something out of pure innocence. Also, notice he is sitting quietly while The Wife draws him. He clearly has a good relationship with his mother. He’s trying to bring something to light—The Man’s use of spectacle.

The Innocent, youngest, Son is often thought to be the one who, despite his youth, rebelliousness and his father’s lack of faith in him, is often the plucky hero. You can read the literature yourself in brief here. But so as not to focus on The Innocent Son too much, I’ll come back from my digression.

Getting back to the commercial, just when something could possibly go down, had it not been for the silencing of The Wife, in walks Quasi-Confident Teenage Daughter for The Man to deflect his loss of power onto. She states her plans to call a “bad boy” (we can assume, since he has a mustache and rides a motorcycle—classic bad). The Man quickly responds, shutting her down in an over protective way. Again, no input from The Wife, who now is an afterthought.

T-Mobile is no stranger to creepy father figures in their commercials. What some may see as funny, I see as reinforcing the stereotype. Also, mothers are often silent in these commercials, or non-existent. Certainly, not every family has a mother, but when they do include her, she’s often shrugging or non-reactive. Silent. Non-confrontational. Good. I’ll be picking apart other T-Mobile commercials that follow this logic in the following posts!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Adult Sink (Part II)

Pole Dance Hero is yet another new game featured on AdultSwim.com created by This Is Pop. I have to say, just looking at the name, I got all giddy and excited. I thought to my late-night T.V. watching self, “finally, a progressive game that takes an exotic dancer/superhero through awesome ass-kicking adventures!” That would be amazing right? What I failed to initially understand was that the “Hero” part in Pole Dance Hero is simply referring to its mechanical and instructional similarities to another game (Guitar Hero).

So here you go, you’re playing Pole Dance Hero, living out your “dream[s] of a promising career in exotic dancing”, if you’re a girl, or if you’re a boy, “enjoy[ing] a gentlemen's club experience in the comfort and privacy of your own home.” Queer people and willing lovers be damned! I don’t have a thing against exotic dancers. I really honestly don’t. But what irks me about this game is what happens when you miss a beat—the exotic dancer falls flat on her face. While this isn’t a main function of the game in general, Adult Swim advertises this feature on their commercial for the game as one of it’s alluring points; make a stripper fall on her face.

Here’s what a level looks like:

Notice the falls and the sound that comes from the audience when SHE—the nameless exotic dancer—does fall. It’s almost like a cheer! Am I hearing this right?! This also doesn’t seem like the most authentic “gentleman’s club” experience based on the moves performed by this dancer. Even most experienced exotic dancer would probably be sick to her stomach just being exposed to the amount of spins per second this computerized dancer executes.

Another point of contention is the cheers/jeers coming from the right side of the screen. They seem to be in a quote bubble, as if someone was shouting them at the exotic dancer. She is not only being controlled by you, the player, but being controlled off screen by what could only be assumed is her boss, the club manager. Or perhaps she’s being mocked by an overly critical audience member.

Whatever the case, this whole game is one big FAIL. It panders to the omnipresent male gaze, excludes willing and/or experimental partners, not to mention the queer populace, and like its aforementioned colleague (Zombie Hooker Nightmare) allows for the desensitization of violence against women who are prostitutes or exotic dancers. I repeat, whatever the case, this whole game is one big FAIL.

The cherry to the most ridiculously offensive sundae is the titles to the various songs in the background of Pole Dance Hero. They include such gems as: “Polegasm”, “STDeviant”, “Hard One”, and my personal favorite “Womb with a View”. While I certainly don’t doubt the titles to these songs, I have to admit that I found it on YouTube, so it may be the product of some 15 year old’s imagination as well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adult Sink (Part I)

If you’re anything like me, you were highly appreciative of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim back in the late 90’s. Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Cartoon Planet were two of my favorite shows, most notably for Brak. However, Adult Swim has noticeably changed and perhaps keeping up with what some may believe is Adult Swim’s target audience—white males between the age of 16-30, you know, everyone’s target audience for some reason—Adult Swim has added much to their repertoire, including a website with games.

Long gone are the days of Space Ghost, Brak and Zorak, and Adult Swim seems content to usher in an attitude of apathy, nihilism, and angry white malehood. While my guilty pleasure is Family Guy (taking huge pains to ignore the misogyny and rape humor), I am thoroughly disgusted with Adult Swim for pandering to the most violent and offensive form of sexism—promoting computer games that glorify dead “zombie” hookers, and injuring strippers. The two games I’m specifically talking about are Zombie Hooker Nightmare (and any holiday-themed spin off thereof) and Pole Dance Hero. I feel like I lost a few brain cells simply typing out these names! But let’s begin the gruesome analysis of why these games are so widely accepted yet so remarkably offensive.

Zombie Hooker Nightmare. The name says it all. Not only did these “hookers” have to die somehow in the first place, but now that they have come back to life, you get to kill them all over again. In this game, you literally control the last surviving “hooker” (notice the more derogatory use of a word that means prostitute). This prostitute is bent on staying in the business despite an apocalypse. Can we say a disturbed dude’s wet dream?! Women who are willing to “do it” despite hell on earth. Oh but of course, prostitutes, as we all know, do it because they like it, or else they would leave and choose a different profession. Here’s the game’s own description:

“Who says a zombie apocalypse has to stop a working girl from making a little cash? Guide Lola past hordes of undead zombie hookers to collect weapons and cash AND guide your still-living Johns back to your trailer for a little “business.” Fulfill the night's quota, hop in your trailer and do it again the next night.”

Quota. You said it. There’s a little understanding underlying this whole mess. Prostitutes are conventionally sex slaves. They are controlled by male pimps, it is not glamorous, and they are often drug-addicted and abused, forced into the lifestyle with little hope of getting out. They do not simply “hop into [their] trailer[s]” after a hard night’s work. This view of prostitution gives way to the idea that these women are dispensable. They are seen as nothing but objects for males to use and forget about. Their murders are often seen as a byproduct of a struggle occurring during “business”. Murder of prostitutes is often grossly underestimated. Anyway, games like these reinforce the stereotype that prostitutes or “hookers” are expendable commodities, and it makes their liberation that much less possible.

Also note that the “Johns” are still alive in this game.

I’ll discuss Pole Dance Hero in the next post (Part II) since for me, these two games are deserving of their own posts!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Women on Display!

Step right up folks! Come see the spectacle that is this species we call woman! Folks, she cleans, she has kids, she has delicate sensibilities, and she has a body that is here for your amusement! Come one, come all! See the freak show that is the woman in her natural environment –a home she can clean! No need to feed them, these little ladies love to be thin! Oh… don’t get too close though; you don’t want to disturb her dusting ritual…

Not like we need another way for male society to make us feel like we’re constantly on display for their viewing pleasure, here comes Pledge (you know, a WOMAN’S product, since it’s a cleaning product and all) putting women in a literal glass display case. There is nothing right about this commercial. Not even one little bit! How creepier can this get?! Here’s some woman, alone, “trapped” (and I use the quotations to literally quote the one commercial which noted that they have “trapped” a woman inside), with no visible way of getting out! I mean, honestly… there’s no door, no window, and we can only assume that the box is not closed off at the top. Has anyone seen the movie Seven? Where that Jesus freak serial killer traps the woman in his basement in a glass box (then fills it with water)? Yeah. So I guess just having to clean the box and its contents to “win” their freedom seems to pale in comparison to actually being kidnapped and tortured, but the concept is still there.

The other creepy thing is that it’s ALWAYS a woman in these commercials, and they NEVER get out! You literally don’t see the woman leaving the box! For all we know, these women are still “trapped” in these glass boxes with Pledge products and zero ventilation! We can only assume they may also be very very VERY high on fumes at this very moment.

As a side note, the only Pledge "woman in a glass box" commercial I found to be a little less than offensive was the one where it seems the woman has magical capabilities of walking through glass:

Unfortunately, this woman, despite her crazy walking-through-glass powers, is patronized by the ever-present voice of God male narrator.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First Post May Be Unappetizing: Quiznos

When one thinks of quality lunch meats, bread bowls, chunky soups, or “Sammies”, all thrown into a huge oven thereby warming it up toasting it, one thinks of Quiznos! One may also recall their crazy good deals like the crack-referenced two-for-five sale that’s currently running. But I—I go to Quiznos for the chance that the all-toasting oven on premises can stare at me, suggestively. Because you know, women love to be stared at. Don’t understand? Just watch:

Oh yeeeeah… that gritty-voiced male oven is totally hot—for YOU girl!!! He can’t help but stare at your *ahem* “choose two”. He may be talking about your breasts, since they are so totally noticeable in whatever shirt you’re wearing, but he may just be talking about your two ridiculously succulent menu choices. If you thought breasts, you obviously had your mind in the gutter and/or want it, you nasty girl!
Perhaps sarcasm isn’t my strong point but WTF?! Did anyone see this commercial and get immediately scheeved out? Yes, scheeved. If you’re reading my blog, get use to my Jersey accent in writing. It means more than grossed out. I was offended that I could hardly catch it the first time I saw it since they slip it in there in the way beginning of the commercial, well, you saw. You almost miss it altogether! Thank Goddess Quiznos is so insistent on running ads every ten minutes or else I wouldn’t have caught this gem. Anyway, what also bothered me was the poor woman in this commercial was made out to, um, like the attention from the perverted oven. File this one under “Girls Like the Attention” with its countless other ad friends, which I will be discussing in later blogs. Furthermore, Quiznos male-version of this very same ad is absolutely nothing like the horribly offensive female version. I’m not even going to post the video because it’s so totally neutral that it’s more like background noise. Basically the dude-oven just asks his friend to borrow $5.00, to which he is denied, so he himself can get some choose two.
So. This is a classic example of some of the ads that are out there that we all let slide by because they aren’t in-your-face offensive, but definitely are upon further examination. If we continue to allow these companies to market in this way, we are perpetuating stereotypes, sexism, misogyny and the idea that we are all apathetic consumers! As a graduate student on winter break, I took in a good deal of pop culture advertisement through TV, magazines, the internet, etc., and I have never been so disgusted with the marketing strategies employed by companies that are supposedly vying for our dollar! If we are the consumer, we tell THEM what we want. We have to tell them to stop insulting us! Contact Quiznos if you want. I don’t know if it will get through, but it’s worth a try. Be nice. Tell them to bring back those fuzzy potato things with the top hats and googley eyes! Or at the very least, get rid of the friggan pervy oven! It’s unnecessary. They can be more creative than that without insulting women.
Since this is my first blog post, welcome me! I have to say, this will NOT be a negative blog. I believe in karma and I want to put some funny out into the world. I’m sure you already know but we feminists are a rowdy and proud bunch and are often quite hilarious! I’ll try to use humor as a way of making these outrageously sexist ads more digestible, enabling you to swallow your rage and write the company or whatever action you want to take. I’ll also be featuring a weekly “Hell Yes” where kick ass feminist action is featured. So yeah… stay tuned! Oh and PS- I’ll try not to make all posts as long as this one.