Category Archives: Blog #4

An Unpredictable Future

Media is constantly changing, evolving, and growing due to the influence of countless factors.  The media today is nothing like the media of ten years ago and the media ten years from now will be nothing like todays.  While knowing what the media of the future will look like is impossible we can look at how media has evolved up to this point, and how other major influences are currently evolving to make assumptions as to what media might look like in the future.

Technology, in my opinion, is the biggest influence on the media currently.  I believe this because of the power it gives media producers and consumers.  It is rapidly evolving, opening new possibilities for media consumption and distribution.  In recent years technology has given the former consumers the power to produce media and to gatewatch more effectively.  This has taken some of the power to gatekeep from the large media producers.  As technology evolves it will continue to change the dynamic between large media companies and the general public, hopefully for the better.

Over the past 50 years one of the most controversial and influential trends in media is the concentration of ownership.  We are down to so few companies owning most of the media that it is hard to imagine ownership getting any more concentrated.  This past week Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, formerly the nations two largest cable companies will soon be one.  As greedy companies like Comcast continue to buy out every competitor how long will it be until our Big 5 become consolidated into a single conglomerate?  While the formation of one mega conglomerate is very unlikely, even the consolidation from five to four major media companies would give each company a great increase of power and influence.

Technology and ownership concentration are just two of many influences on the future of media.  Technology has given more people access to information and the ability for the consumers of media to become producers of media.  With this new increase in information and power the consumers can be better informed.  This will hopefully lead to larger concern about ownership consolidation.  The media has a enormous effect on everyone viewing it, and so it is important for the viewers to have an interest in knowing the truth about that media.  As we move into the future it will be increasingly important to be active viewers.  Looking to the future we can only hope that everyone does their part in staying informed and keeping the media working for the people.

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Pantene: “Labels Against Women”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOjNcZvwjxI

This Pilipino commercial examines the double standards that women face in the workplace compared to men, but at the same time seems to reinforce these labels about women. While a man may be the ‘boss,’ ‘persuasive,’ ‘dedicated,’ ‘neat,’ and ‘smooth,’ a woman is considered ‘bossy,’ ‘pushy,’ ‘selfish,’ ‘vein,’ and ‘showy.’ These words are both reminding us and reinforcing these ideas back upon women, even though the commercial is trying to stand against these labels. According to this ad, these women can overcome the double-standard by being able to “shine.” But, all the women in this ad are beautiful, physically fit, and have perfect hair, so Pantene is also suggesting that these traits also factor into a person’s (woman’s) success.

The inclusion of the song “Mad World,” also sung by a female, emphasizes the ‘madness’ of the double-standard women face in the workplace. Even though this commercial originally aired in the Philippines in November 2013, it quickly went viral after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared the video on her page and commenting that it “is one of the most powerful videos [she] has ever seen…”  link

While some people may think that gender inequality has been fixed, it still is evident in todays society. Today, finding women in the work place is more common, but it is still predominately men. Even though the commercial is seemingly supporting the idea that women can over come the pressure and hardships in the workplace by being strong, like the Dove Beauty Sketches link, the idea remains that physical looks are very important and determine how successful you are and how you think of yourself. Now, as we all know, Pantene sells hair products. So what does this double-standard-workplace-commercial have to do with hair? The idea is that if you use Pantene, you too can “Be strong and shine.”

http://stopharass.com/article-women-marketplace.htm

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-19/pantenes-anti-sexism-shampoo-commercial-comes-to-america

Godaddy.com

Godaddy.com is notorious for their commercials that are strange but also usually contain a beautiful woman.  This commercial is no different, and was very popular and talked about during the super bowl last year.   There was a “tame” version that was showed on air but there was also a second version that was published on godaddy.com as well.  I embedded them both.

There are several things about this commercial that stood out to me.   First, there are some ideologies being supported in this commercial. I think that there is the ideology that to be successful, you have to make money.   Also, you need to be smart and beautiful to be successful.

There are also some stereotypes that are being supported.  First of all, from the actual narration of the ad, it is saying that beauty and brains can’t be the same thing.  It is saying someone can’t be beautiful and smart, which we know is untrue.  To me, it seems like the people picked that woman because they were trying to portray an “ideal woman” or what they think an ideal woman might look like.   Especially because I think beauty is not necessarily those things that they are trying to show.   Another thing that I noticed is that both of the people in the advertisement are in fact white people.  This “ideal woman” was not portrayed to be another race other than white.

To me something else that came to mind is the fact that it is also illustrating the idea of social classes within people.   One of the two people is not biologically more advanced than the other but, almost anyone who sees this will immediately get the feeling that they are trying to push the “she’s out of his league” social construct.  But clearly godaddy.com can help you breach that barrier that is separating you from this ideal woman.

And as always, sex sells.  She is in fact a beautiful woman so who wouldn’t want to make out with her right? And of course Danica Patrick is there in her skin tight outfit as well.

One of the consequences specifically is the exploitation of women.  Join godaddy.com to get this woman.   Why not join godaddy.com to further your career so you can become more successful for YOU?  But the advertisement companies are just giving the people what they want.  Which is sex.  Another consequence going along with that is the fact that it is showing that the woman is the prize.  The words on screen even say “when sexy meets smart, your small business scores”.   Clearly the goal is to score.  A woman is not in fact a prize that you can win in the end.

Carl’s Junior Controversy

Yes yes… I know a lot of people are discussing gender roles in media for this blog post.  But,  misrepresentation of genders in the media is becoming a huge problem, here’s why.

Most people associate the yearly Super Bowl game with lots of funny commercials.  Some people just watch the game in anticipation of seeing the ads.  After watching the game I usually go on youtube and look up what other people thought of them or watch “top 10” videos to find the really funny commercials I may have missed while dipping a hot wing.

What I found this year is surprising to say the least.  In the past several months/years, Carl’s Junior has been making commercials that advertise their sandwiches, and they all involve a model eating it in some sexual way that is supposed to make you want it, but with this ad they took a different approach, that I find to be even more disgraceful and just plain sexist.

So I know what you’re thinking.  How is this more degrading than the previous Carl’s Junior commercials?  When the higher ups at CJ heard that viewers were upset about this issue, they took a different approach on advertising their sandwiches, and this is it.  If you look at the details and ask yourself how they portray society, you will be surprised.  What is the purpose of the intro?  Why is there a lady coming out of a swimming pool wearing a bikini?  Her only purpose was to throw Terrell Owens a football and stare at him while he eats and talks.  Oh, did I mention she was wearing a bikini?

It wasn’t until seeing this on several top 10 lists that I realized the reason why this video was so appealing.  It contains everything advertisers think that football fans want.  Good manly food, the authority and confidence of a football player, and attractive women that sit at your side and make you look good.  Usually ads have to be funny or charming in some way to get onto a top ten list, but I don’t find this to be either.

In other words, the advertisers are using degrading and unrealistic images to stimulate the ideologies and beliefs of a stereotypical football fan.  The problem with this is that it is manipulation.  There are other ways of advertising that could be just as persuasive to the viewer without being so un-ethical.  Ultimately I think the consequences of this kind of advertising is just a big step in the wrong direction for equality.  There will never be complete race and gender equality as long as there are videos like this being created and broadcasted to the world.

Women of Wall Street?

Recently on Upworthy.com I saw a fake movie trailer for a female version of the new hit film “Wolf of Wall Street”, named “Women of Wall Street”. The movie was very well made and I thought nothing of it being offensive or anything like that. Yes, I knew it had lots of inappropriate scenes and some were even degrading, but I just let it go because after all it’s a movie.

Watch the clip here

It wasn’t until after I watched the spoof “Women of Wall Street” that I started critically analyzing it and slowly seeing how many underlying stereotypes it reinforced and the ideologies that were presented. It all starts with the character- they were literally all men, except for the prostitutes and sex figures, those were women of course. By representing the entire corporate world as men in the movie, they were reinforcing the gender stereotype that men make the money and women stay at home. Not only were they saying women stay at home, they also hinted that IF women work at all, it isn’t work that required their brain, but their looks.

This movie has the underlying ideology that looks are what matter in our world and that possessions and appearance are what’s important in life. He flaunts his possessions throughout the entire movie and that is his main focus, money and women. It also reinforces the ideology that partying is a way of life and a goal-worthy thing in life. Another big faux pas of the movie is the representation of ethnicities in the business world; the movie reinforces the idea that only older, Caucasian men make it in the corporate world.

I realize this movie is based off of a true story and that’s the argument for why they have only white males as main characters, but by reinforcing these norms and saying that they are acceptable is a down side of the media. Obviously we want to try and make movies and such as real as possible, but we only choose to represent a fraction of the world’s happenings and that fraction tends to be only the one percent of the world. Having a movie like this reinforces bad stereotypes and ideologies and makes it seem as if they are okay. What kind of message does that send to our kids?

While watching the spoof trailer, I couldn’t take it seriously, not just because it was a spoof, but also because I’m not used to women playing the “big” guy. It was weird to see her flashing her money, drinking lots and being unsatisfied with your income (even though it’s a lot). Why is it okay for a guy to act like this and the film to be nominated for an academy award, but when a girl does such things, it seen as ridiculous. Gender stereotype comes into play here big time and I would argue it’s a bad thing.

Home Depot Commercial

Home Depot is typically seen as a man’s store, with tools and planks of wood to build the ultimate shed or whatever the heart desires.  Right? The commercial that Home Depot recently is airing is reinforcing the “Man’s Store” view that is already held a lot of the public.

In the Home Depot commercial, “Come Alive,” there are some ideologies at play.  One of the ideologies is the way a husband and wife should hold household duties.  The man is the strong, hard-working half while the woman is mainly there to decorate.  This ideological construct of gender roles while doing housework were constructed many years back, when the husband was the breadwinner and hard worker while the wife stayed home waiting for her husband to come back, probably with a meal on the table or had just cleaned the house.  These constructed gender roles depict how a typical American middle class couple should operate.

Some of the stereotypes in this commercial include the differences in the roles that the husband and wife play in the recreation of their yard.  The man is being shown handling the money while they are shopping in Home Depot.  Also, the man is shown looking up a lawn mower on his phone while in the store.  These enforce the male stereotypes of being the head of the household, who handles all the finances.  Also, the husband is looking at machinery to purchase, which reinforces that men are the ones who are supposed to handle tools.  The wife is shown at the store picking out the flowers. This reinforces the women gardener stereotype, in which all wives are supposed to garden in their yards to make their homes look pretty.  Also, the store clerk who is selling the woman flowers is also a woman.  This enforces that stereotype even more, in that even the people selling the flowers at a store like Home Depot, are women.  While they are doing the yard work at their home, the man is showed doing majority of the work, including the lawn mowing, weed whacking, administering pesticides, as well as the heavy lifting involved in yard work.  The woman is shows for about 2 seconds after she is done gardening, and she looks completely clean and somewhat satisfied.  These acts in the commercial reinforce the stereotypes of the typical husband and wife, in which the man does the work and the women sits there looking pretty, after making the house look pretty.

The couple in this commercial seems to be a mixed, minority-race couple.  However, there did not seem to be any stereotypes of minority races in this commercial.  One could argue that the minority couple was depicted as having middle class wealth, since they are doing their own yard work.

The consequence of the above roles, that the commercial created for the husband and wife, is that it reinforces the gender stereotypes of husband and wife housework; the husband is the responsible, hard-working, money-bearing half of the relationship while the wife is there to look good and make their home look good.  These stereotypes are harmful to married couples, especially for the woman in the relationship, who is seen barely contributing to the housework.

Commercial:

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7BaX/the-home-depot-come-alive 

Step in Right Direction or Propelling Stereotype: #AerieReal

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Photo from aerie.com

In a recent shocking move, aerie, the lingerie sister brand for American Eagle Outfitters, decided to go for the ‘au naturale’ look when it comes to their models. There will be no retouching, no Photoshop; just positively radiant young women wearing their clothing.

The campaign, known as #aerieReal is aims to debunk the stereotype of the airbrushed-to-perfection, totally unrealistic “super” model, as can be seen in any Victoria’s Secret ad. They even added a site feature for online ordering, where a model who is a 34AA bra size actually wears that size to portray the fit in a photograph, rather than the usual busty model sporting the 36D. Yes, the photos still have the perfect lighting, with made-up models in flattering poses, but the message is prevalent: women should not need to be airbrushed to be sexy.

However, what is still perplexing about this campaign is the size of the models. They are as close to flawless as they come, and perpetuate the stereotype of the slim woman as advertising gold. Sex sells, and though these women have a realistic look, they are still the gorgeous, straight-teeth, blemish-free, “ideal” woman of our society.

The step in the right direction for this campaign is this African American model who is curvy and busty, but still healthy and beautiful. It calls to question the use of a black woman to propel diversity within the campaign, but overall sends a better message. She is also much lighter-skinned, which in our recent discussions, has been more positively received by the general population (i.e.; the executives) than a darker skinned woman.

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Photo from aerie.com

Another good move for aerie is the model with a visible tattoo. Tattoos are extremely taboo in this industry, and can sometimes lead models not to find work with certain brands who have a “clean” image. aerie proudly displays this model’s tattoo and it really grounds the campaign. Though she is not covered head-to-toe, it is moving towards inclusivity of a market that is not generally reached by feminine clothing brands.

aerie-0
Photo from aerie.com

I commend aerie for this revolutionary ad campaign that empowers women to aspire for real, not airbrushed, but there’s still more to improve on. When they begin to include women from a more diverse race pool, or larger models, as seen in the Dove beauty campaign, they will have really started something great in an industry that starves and retouches girls, shaming the ones off of the page and the screen.

This campaign challenges the super in super model, and recent fads like fat-shaming, #thinspiration, and the thigh gap phenomenon, but I don’t believe it’s far under the radar of the womanly stereotype of our society. When they truly take women who look like they could be on the bus with you, eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s on a bad day, or has beautiful tattoo sleeves, they will have truly broken the mold.

Sources:
Adweek
aerie