Tuesday, December 12, 2006

ads ads ads

Advertisements are everywhere. T.V. commercials (let's not forget product placement even within the programming!), billboards, radio ads, internet pop-ups... it's endless. And as with everything else in our culture, ads change with time. Many images we see on the side of the road today would never have been allowed in previous decades. Ads are taking on more adult themes, and we see advertisers try to fit in the topic of sex at every opportunity. Many people have complained that ads are R-rated or offensive, others flatly call-out the sexism that they see in many ads. We all hear the saying, "Sex Sells," with the rationale being that the porn industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Yes, but in that case, the product is sex. Today in advertising, people are using sex to sell-- not sex-- but cars, cell phones, beer, movies... the list is endless. But does "sex" really "sell", when sex is not the product being sold?

As ads are getting sexier, and we see more sexism, there has been a roaring intellectual debate going on as to whether these ads are having a negative influence on our society. I am going to take a look at sex and sexism in advertising ('sexy' does not mean 'sexist'! ).

In addition, any type of ad that may be thought of as objectionable is up for being scrutinized. And even though ads are meant to sell things, I want to look at the way ads tell us we need certain things and need to be a certain way and, in particular, how ads tell us we are ugly and that we need to buy certain products in order to be beautiful. "Beautiful" being a twisted image of supposed beauty that is perpetuated by ads themselves. Now we've come full circle.

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