September 21, 2010

Kush Support- Another Lame Product for Your Imperfect Boobs

Your breasts may be too big, too saggy, too pert, too flat, too full, too apart, too close together, too A-cup, too lopsided, too jiggly, too pale, too padded, too pointy, too pendulous, or just two mosquito bites.

If you’ve seen Killing Us Softly 3 or Killing Us Softly 4, the two most recent installments of pioneering scholar and media literacy educator Jean Kilbourne‘s video series examining images of  women, sexism and sexuality in advertising, you’ve heard the copy of this famous ad for Dep styling products. The underlying message of this ridiculous ad is that-surprise-no matter what our breasts look like, they’re not right and in need of improvement.

We all know that ads exist for one sole purpose- to sell products by appealing to our emotions and socially constructed desires. In a culture that has an insatiable breast fetish, our breasts have consistently appeared at the top of the ever-growing list of unacceptable body parts and there’s always some product to fix our pesky problem areas or avoid them in the first place with “preventative maintenance.”

And here we’re offered Kush Support, the miraculous sleep support for big breasts. Because now we don’t have too merely worry about their size, shape and degree of perkiness but we can fret over the potential chest wrinkles big breasts create as a result of sleeping on our sides. And because of our increased insecurities and body anxieties, we’ll buy a cheesy plastic cylinder that actually looks like a cheap dildo and our problems will be solved!

March 18, 2010

Ad round-up: Advertising as mainstream porn

Jean Kilbourne has had it right for years. She said that “advertisements are America’s real pornographer” and ads have made porn mainstream.

We owe her immense gratitude for shifting the lens on advertising and making advertising a subject of inquiry to take seriously. I’ve been influenced, inspired and indebted to her since I saw Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women in 2001. I mean, I’d been a feminist for nearly a decade at that point, studying the mass media for approximately 6 years and I knew advertisers weren’t exactly the most noble of folks. Advertisers have always been in existence to sell a product by any means necessary.

But to see  ad after ad, reinforcing the same images and themes over and over again was mind blowing. Her film was the final piece of the puzzle. I continued to examine and collect ads in the same way Kilbourne did at the beginning of her inquiry decades before.

Each semester my students collect and deconstruct ads. In my newly created class, Women and Popular Culture (my dream class if you will), Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency created a blog for the students and myself to share our observations, thoughts and create a collective resource base and solidify the community. It is in this incredible virtual space that my students posted 3 ads they chose to deconstruct. Kristin E. caught on to the intensity of these advertising messages after seeing one after the other posted, creating an eerie and pornified collage. She took it upon herself to take many of the images the class had posted and put them together. After all these years, to examine the ads in this way, is still shocking and disturbing.

Take a peek.

NOTE: Edited April 16, 2010 after several people emailed me about the spoof ad in the round-up. I’m glad some people are paying attention and are already familiar with ad spoofs and culture jamming. Can *you* spot the spoof ad? Do you know who created it? Answer below in the comments.