Saturday, January 24, 2009

Misogyny in Advertising

There's a strange new commercial on the airwaves currently.  I just saw it yesterday.  It's advertising Edge Shaving Gel.

Actually, it's a two-pronged attack: one is promoting a brand of shaving gel you can purchase, and the other is encouraging the unevolved man's hatred of women.  The message is decidedly anti-women, portraying them as an expendable resource that appeals to base lust yet can be conveniently, heedlessly discarded.

The commercial itself takes on two tacks, as it promotes how smoothly you can shave with this product and how nice it will smell to you.  It degrades and devalues women in each of these respects.

First, a man is seen spritzing a small dollop of shaving gel into one hand.  He carefully massages the gel onto his jaw, where it foams into a thick white lather.  Then the camera zooms in to show what's really going on, on the surface of the skin.

Reminiscent of the Scrubbing Bubbles, the shaving cream has been anthropomorphized into a couple platoons of scantily clad women.  Why?  Someone in marketing thought it would be irresistably arousing to envision a couple dozen microscopic, semi-nude women tromping through the whiskers of a man's chin.  They wear skimpy skin-tight red garments and bear tanks of shaving cream on their backs, and they are spraying foam upon the tree-like whiskers that tower above them.

They're also hosing each other down.  The women turn their menial labor into a titillating playtime, spraying each with jets of white cream.  They wince with enormous smiles and abandon their duties, devolving into the shaving cream equivalent of a pillow fight.

Then, panning back, the man shaves them all away with his enormous razor.  Without a second thought he has massacred thirty women of various ethnicities, all in their mid- to late-20s, all groomed from childhood to represent contemporary sexual ideals.  He has sliced them into tiny bits with his razor, he rinses them down the sink, and he walks away from his bathroom mirror wearing a self-satisfied grin.  Edge Shaving Gel!

In the second scenario, an unkempt man approaches his own bathroom mirror.  He has just waken up, indicated by his bed-head hair.  He spritzes a dollop of the shaving gel onto his fingers and works it on his jaw, where it foams up.

Zoom in to the foam on his fingers.  From it has launched a sortie of beautiful young women dressed in skimpy, tight, green outfits and equipped with jet packs.  These women are flying up from the foam on the giant man's fingertips.  Side view: a couple dozen miniscule women are flying straight up from the shaving gel, past the stubble on his enormous upper lip, and ascending steadily up into the man's nostrils, tiny pale green contrails behind them.

Beautiful women are flying into a man's nose.  Someone proposed this in a marketing meeting, and someone else agreed it was a great idea.

The camera is in front of the women as they fly up into the huge nose, and the periphery of the nostril slowly descends around them.  The light on the women dims as they go deeper into his nostril, and the expression of the woman in the front is difficult to interpret.  She looks like she could be wrestling between determination for her mission and a deep, animalistic sexual arousal.  But she could also look disgusted.  She could look like she's having second thoughts about the career track that has taken her up into a gigantic man's mucal linings.  Would the commercial seriously allow her such dimensionality?  Maybe, if it were to highlight her humiliation.

Ah, but now all the women are in the man's sinuses, where they have erupted into a dance party.  The beautiful, tiny women are dancing in the man's nose.  Yes, you can even see the indentations of the sides of his nose, up above the women.  Zoom back: the man's hair has calmed down slightly and he bears a self-satisfied grin as he turns away from the mirror.  Edge Shaving Gel!

What does Edge Shaving Gel say about women?  They're only good for looking sexy.  You can cut them in half when you're done with them.  You can shove them up into a disgusting orifice and they're overjoyed to be there.  So if you're a guy and you think women should be pretty and they're stupid and who cares what they think, Edge Shaving Gel would like you to know you're in good company, and you're looking a little stubbly, there.

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