The focal point of this paper is to write a 3 page essay evaluating one commercial advertisement from a popular magazine and analyze it with an evaluation of its effectiveness in light of its purpose, paying particular attention to how well its various components work together to persuade.
Jean Kilbourne makes an excellent point in her portrayal of advertisement and its appearance of violence and sexually predatory nature. Blatantly sexist, implied violence and the essence of fear or dominance would be inherent in advertisement of all descriptions from lingerie, to jeans all the way to peanut butter. Jean Kilbourne’s essay shows us how much we ignore in the world of advertisement, which simply exemplifies that which we ignore in life as a whole.
Her portrayal of the difference between perceptions of men and women in the various ads, including such concepts as intimacy, violence and innocence would be such as to either cause alarm or to cause us to seriously examine the route advertisement is taking in the role of human behaviors. Human behavior is altered by stimuli outside the mind, but absorbed by that same mind. It is this absorption that must be considered when understanding the human psyche. Sexual advertisement has a tendency to increase violence done by men continuously exposed to the ads and the industry continues to use these sexual images for attention magnets. The biggest problem with this now would be the fact that now teenagers and children have become a target audience, resulting in addiction toward images and brands.
Jean Kilbourne’s essay is quite an informative piece. It proves that what we see and what we get are obviously gender separate, and also can be either intimidating, or thought provoking dependent upon that gender. Most, if not all, advertisement can be considered mildly offensive, no matter the implied innocence. For example, Calvin Klein’s underwear ads spark outrage to this day and yet, regardless that they are only there for a few moments or weeks even, it is enough for people to go out and buy his underwear line.
This, without realizing our own actions, simply feeds the desire to continue the outrageous behaviors displayed within the advertisements. A second example, both on the feminine and masculine side of intimidation, Diet Coke advertisements of Cindy Crawford in a very short skirt drinking a Diet Coke and being ogled by men and boys of all ages and on the other side of the coin, the sweat-coated construction worker ogled by the women in their office building as he drinks the soft drink. In Jean Kilbourne’s essay she states that “First, the industry spreads the sexual images using the media regardless of appropriate types of media. She cites Paris Hilton as prime example just in the year 2005.
There are no doubts that Jean Kilbourne’s criticism of our efforts to put a halt to violence and even the innuendo of violence in both feminist movements and equality based ones, would in fact be direct and to the point in her understanding of what is acceptable, and what should hardly be. The affect of these ads on the younger minds alters the landscape in such a way that we would see it in the actions of younger and younger children. For instance, the rape of a six year old girl by an eight year old on the same bus while on their way home from school as she was held down by four other boys.
There are many images that continue to testify to the belief that violence against women is acceptable, that sex, in the case of the woman, cannot be proven as rape because she is a woman. There is an advertisement, in the March 9, 2006 Rolling Stone magazine on pages five and six of a man pulling a woman’s jeans off on a beach. A blatant testament of dominant sexuality, and then add to that the advertisement on page nine of four pairs of women’s legs, showing off the shoes, or showing off the smooth legs? This is no doubt a blatant approach toward masculine attention. Rolling Stone is a very obvious method of exploitation, both masculine and feminine.
An advertisement further in this issue proves that with a woman whose clothing shows the curvature of her bust quite blatantly and then a large white feather pointing directly toward the cleavage. She stands there with her lashes lowered and a bottle of Skyy Vodka with a glass in her hands. Fashion and the industry that supports it would be a blatant exposition utilizing many sexual images with both teenagers and adults, usually exposing too much of the torso in their advertisement, their shows and so forth. This would constitute a blatant reinforcement of the vulnerability of women, and now, even more so, of children.
Jean Kilbourne has a very good point in her critical assessment of the world of advertising and its affect on both the masculine and feminine gender. Her critical assessment should be considered a wake up call for all in that we ignore the warning signs and exploit the danger in place of fighting against it.
Thus, in her essay, she proved her theory quite sufficiently in that the industry would continually uses sexual images specifically to capture the attention of people, and now, teenagers and children have become the target audience thus becoming addicted to both the images and the brand. If we do not fight as equals, then feminism has no true hold on culture in any way. This, in actuality, is of a far greater impact on the lives of men and women, as well as boys and girls. The fact that these ads continue would tell us that feminism is losing its hold on the minds of many. Ads have a tendency to mold a generation, and the portrayal of men and women in suggestive or violent poses manages a platform for strong debate.
Kilbourne, Jean; Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt: Advertising and Violence; Rereading America Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing 5th Edition; St. Martin’s Press 2001
Jan S. Wenner Editor and Publisher; Rolling Stone Magazine: 1290 Avenue of the Americas; New York, NY 10104-0298 USA