Monday, February 08, 2010

Can Superbowl ads be sexist and anti-books?!

The answer to the headline question is... quite possibly.

Edward Campion of the "Reluctant Habits" blog takes care of some business in this post on the rampant misogyny found in the ads that ran during this year's Superbowl. In particular, a Bud Light ad had a man join a meeting of a women's book club just because they had beer. The gals then describe the book they are reading - about women living through a war they don't understand - while the man sexualizes every word, showing his interest is only in the beer and the women as objects. It ends with a painfully stupid joke about Little Women. But overall, the men are in sports uniforms and the women are in a book club.

I just have to run this excerpt about the underlying message of this asinine ad - an ad so worthless that I won't even link it here, though it's posted on Campion's site. His words:

Here then is the ad’s anti-women and anti-reading worldview: Women, no matter what their goals, aspirations, or interests, have no other role in society other than getting fucked by men. Let women have their “little” book clubs, which can be easily interrupted on a masculine whim and which women will never dare object to. They will set everything aside to give you head or to serve you beer.

And, by the way, if you’re a man, you don’t even need to read to get ahead in the world. (Indeed, one of the commercial’s curious philosophical positions is that one cannot both enjoy beer — at least the stuff better than the undrinkable swill that is being sold in this commercial — and books. Speaking as a man who enjoys beer, books, and football, and who finds intelligent women far sexier than empty-headed centerfolds, I happily refute these stereotypes through my very existence.)

But is that really the worldview at play?

It's interesting to note the conflation of reading - vs playing sports here - and women - versus beer-swilling men here. What gets lost is that the women were seemingly ready to swig some of these beers on their own while discussing this book, which, if one is to trust the description read to this loser guy, is a weak, sentimental yarn. One could wonder if the women were just using this uninteresting description to get rid of the guy so he wouldn't steal their beer. All the same, the women lose as the men invade the club - just for the beer, and possibly for the sex. (Beer goggles anyone?!)

But why, one might ask, must reading only be seen as a feminized past-time, only done by middle class women in sensible sweaters who sit inside tastefully appointed living rooms on sunny days? I might argue that it's not the reading that's the feminized activity, but the talking about reading. In that case, it's still misogynistic for many reasons, but reading is less the target. Let's face it, even guys who like to drink beer and like to read - like myself, like Christopher, like Campion - don't necessarily want to sit around and talk about how we feel about each book we read. And who cares?

I don't want to soften Campion's rant at all, which I enjoyed and which was important to get out there. (Nice to see it picked up by Galleycat.) I just want to try and preserve the idea of some gals sitting in a circle with beers on ice by their side talking about books, without the man. In the moment right before the commercial starts, those women were pretty badass, even if they get clipped out of the framed moment by moronic advertisers who always try appealing to the lowest common denominator.

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