February 26, 2010

Spike TV Takes Advertising Cues From Hustler

A few months ago, I was driving down a busy street when I whizzed past a poster featuring a helmet with a pair of shapely legs sticking out the top. I whipped my head around but couldn’t make out the source of the ad. A few weeks later, I saw the same ad and was able to make out the tag line “College football’s never been dirtier.”

Eye roll. Cringing.

I couldn’t shake the image of that girl stuffed into the helmet with her legs popping out from of my mind. I guess the advertisers did their job. They created a reaction, an unforgettable one at that. But, ewww. That poster is the epitome of Jean Kilbourne‘s themes of objectification and dismemberment as prominent themes depicting women. Sadly, this ad proves that things aren’t necessarily getting better and that a feminist analysis of sexist media content is imperative.

Unfortunately, I was never able to find the producer of this ad until…

I’m currently teaching my dream course, Women and Popular Culture, that features a class blog. My repeat student, Rachel, posted on that same poster I had seen but was unable to source. I was so pleased with her post that I am featuring it below (the title of this post is hers.):

I’m typically not one to generalize this badly – but writing a post about sexism on Spike TV is a little bit like being shocked that cooking is featured on the Food Network.

I really shouldn’t expect more from the network that features such greats as “Bikini Poll of the Week” on their website, as well as “The Top 7 Butterbodies” (I wish I was joking), which has since mysteriously been removed from their website (likely following a widespread backlash across various celebrity and feminist blogs).  Luckily, a celebrity blog/community I frequently read posted the article in its entirety when it was originally put up on the Spike site.  However, I have noticed some bus stop ads for their new original series lately, and I felt inspired to write about it.

“Hmmm….that looks familiar” I thought looking at the poster with the girls legs sticking upside down out of football helmet.  It didn’t take long to place the reference, to one of the (if not the) most famous covers of Hustler Magazine:

bluemountainstate-199x3001

hustler-216x3001

Blue Mountain State is just the latest in the successful networks testosterone, breast fueled programming.  The sexism of the network runs rampant, featuring such shows as “Faster Harder Manswers” and “The Search For the Ultimate Spike Girl.”  (Unrelated – I found their website to be almost unbearable, every page click results in the loud auto-play of a commercial.)  While Spike TV, (and even Larry Flynt) are and were perfectly within their rights to publish these images, it’s important to look at the larger sociological context we live in, the pop culture messages, that allows for such images to be made.  It’s disappointing to think of this new Blue Mountain State ad in terms of how many hands it had to pass through – at ad agencies, through the network.

I know about Larry Flynt, I’ve even seen the “People Vs.” movie starring Woody Harrelson, Edward Norton, and Courtney Love.  I understand both sides of the argument, although it can sometimes be a difficult distinction to make – to be a feminist, and to believe in Larry Flynt having the right to publish the image.  Thirty years after the highly controversial (June 1978) cover appeared on newsstands, the network shows that they have no problem portraying women as objects, as “pieces of meat.”

A teaser trailer that was released in anticipation for the shows premiere shows women in various states of undress, (in some cases completely naked), a lot of macho attitude, and some that’s so gay jokes thrown in for good measure.  If I had the patience, I would watch an episode to critique, but I found it difficult enough to make it through the 2 minute long trailer.


2 Comments »

  1. The same way women don’t mind treating men like their whipping posts everytime they get a compliment.

    Comment by Greg — November 18, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

  2. Women today have become masculinized to the point where they are practically, no longer looking feminine in appearance and lifestyle, overwearing pants with mens shirts and possibly hats and working mens jobs too much.

    Comment by Greg — November 18, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

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