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The Tweet That Made Me Famous (and what I meant by it)

“I sat down to watch a bunch of commercials and there was a football game in between them! Hey Oh!”

Ya, so there were a few commercials during the Super Bowl. They were pricey and they were the ads that managed to get past the censors (See: Super Bowl Ad Censorship: A Good Thing)

For the record, my favorite ad was the Chrysler commercial about Detroit. I am a Los Angeles snob and don’t really think too highly of Detroit and its failed auto companies (sorry, not a fan of the bailout). I didn’t think the ad was the kind of ad that would have people buzzing the next day. And it hasn’t But artistically, it was magnificent. The videography, the theme, the narration, the music, the gospel choir, it was amazing. (Video below)

And I will not be convinced otherwise so don’t even bother.

The ad that has generated the most buzz (overwhelmingly negative) was the ad for Groupon. The ad begins with some beautiful shots of Tibet and its people. The narrator has a serious tone and he is telling the viewer that Tibet’s people and rich culture are being seriously threatened. Suddenly, the narrator’s tone changes and he tells you that despite their suffering he is enjoying $30 of food at a Tibetan restaurant for $15 thanks to Groupon. (video below)

The backlash was intense and immediate. People were outraged at the insensitivity to the plight of the Tibetan people. Groupon’s ad was maligned. I too found it distasteful.

But when I thought about all the anger directed to Groupon for their ad which was insensitive I began to wonder about all the other ads which were also crude and insensitive.

So I took to Twitter and tweeted:

Pretty quickly, the Tweet was garnering some serious attention. To date (24 hours later) it has been retweeted (What is a retweet?) using the native retweet feature 52 times by people who I do not know. It has been retweeted the old-fashioned way by dozens more. I had struck a chord.

In fact the tweet was even picked up by Read Write Web on their blog: Why Groupon’s Super Bowl Ad Was So Offensive (According to Technorati, RWW is the 12th ranked blog in the world.) Pretty cool! And I was flattered.

Anyway, what I meant by that tweet was not that the Groupon ad was not offensive. Nor did I mean to say that I took offense to all the other ads. It was an observation.

What rankles Super Bowl viewers? An obtuse and oblique use of Tibetan suffering in an attempt at humor offended way more people than the ads that directly objectify women as sex objects. I am not about to start a crusade to rescue women from men who behave and think like the figurative Frat Boy. (Although, maybe I should.) I am simply pointing out that collectively we don’t care enough that women are portrayed in such a one dimensional sense.

Apparently, a lot of you agree with me.

I find it shocking that many reasonable thinking men and nearly all women put up with this form of advertising. The Chrysler commercial mentioned above used none of the cheap parlor trick that the ads that objectify women used. It was effective because it was artistic and related to our more sophisticated faculties as opposed to the animalistic urges which the other ads appeal to.

Haven’t we come far enough as a society that ads which objectify women and portray men as single minded neanderthals are passé? Not yet?

Can we get there soon please?

Here is the Chrysler ad:

Here is the Groupon ad:

If you want to see ads objectifying women find ‘em yourself…


36 Comments
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  • The Law

    That Detroit ad sucked.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Well that settles it then…

      • Serandez

        Good post.

        I didn’t love the ad, though I liked it more re-watching it now. For a Super Bowl ad, especially a long one like that, there’s an implied expectation (fair or not, just is) for a strong finish. It was a bit anti-climactic, especially with the music playing, to have Eminem walk on stage and then just say a simple line that wasn’t even delivered strongly (for his standards). I’d also expect to have seen less driving where you can’t even see the car and more of the blue collar worksmanship that makes such a car, if the ad is going to be so heavily Detroit-focused.

  • Holyhyrax

    I guess the only difference is, that yes, women are objectified (I think now more than ever), but they aren’t really suffering. It’s their choice to be part of it.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      You misunderstand. It objectifies ALL women. Even those who did not consent
      to degrading themselves in the commercial.

      • Holyhyrax

        Of course its bad. Its all over the place. But are they suffering? One can’t compare objectifying women’s bodies vs a people basically feeling oppressed.

        Yes, you should care about how woman are portrayed. But that is a separate issue, to the question of the blatant using of an obvious sensitive human rights issue to sell your product.

        • http://twitter.com/paigeworthy Paige Worthy

          You need to get your head on straight. Just because women aren’t DYING or suffering phsyically from being objectified doesn’t mean it’s not offensive. I was 50 times more offended by GoDaddy’s disgusting spots than I was Groupon’s characteristically lame and off base sense of humor in their faux-PSA spots.

          • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

            Precisely.

            And thanks for stopping by…

          • Holyhyrax

            Is it because you’re a woman, and the issue is women that you feel this need to come charging in to protect your fellow women? Did you see anywhere that I said that those ads shouldn’t be met with some disgust or offense????? I am simply saying one cannot compare. People have gotten use of objectifying women. That is just the culture now. Its a sad fact. But I think it will be even worse if we start using ACTUAL oppression in stride in selling products.

            • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

              Well that was the point of the tweet. That we are so “used” to seeing women objectified that no one cares anymore!

              • Holyhyrax

                I feel it only gets worse and worse.

                • Holyhyrax

                  oh…and its getting younger too.

          • Anna Tarkov

            Let me add here that there ARE actually women dying and suffering all over the world (including here in the US) simply because they are women. So you haven’t got a leg to stand on, I’m sorry.

            • Holyhyrax

              Did any ad make light of the reasons women (as well as men) are suffering in the US?

              • Anna Tarkov

                So I guess short of making fun of rape or spousal abuse, nothing else would cut it for you, eh? Please, I beg you, educate yourself: http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/

                • Holyhyrax

                  I think you need to stop and think a bit. You can’t compare apples and oranges. The media does not make light of anorexia or any other potential consequence of objectifying women. But in the Super Bowl ad, they are ACTUALLY USING, the plight of an oppressed group for their product. So yes, HAD Bud Light used a husband beating up on his wife to get him a beer, it would be the same. Is objectifying women bad? Yes. But the potential consequence of that such as anorexia, or women feeling they can’t meet certain pre conceived notions of beauty, or men calling women babe, or chick, or witch or bitch, does not come close to actual oppression and having your rights violated.

                  • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

                    Think about it this way: The ads that objectify women are ACTUALLY offensive
                    to the women. And they create a hostile environment for women. The Groupon
                    ad was ABOUT the oppression of Tibetans. It wasn’t actually oppressing them.
                    You see the difference now?

                    • Holyhyrax

                      Have you asked a Tibetan lately about the difference you should made?

                      The ads about women while offensive, aren’t oppressing either. They aren’t oppressing because there are willing participants in it that don’t consider it offensive and would probably tell you to relax and get with the times. IMO, being offended at something….ok, we got offended. But there is something inherently disconcerting about using a group (or their image) being oppressed to sell your product.

                    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

                      But there is something inherently disconcerting about using a group (or
                      their image) being oppressed to sell your product.

                      This statement applies equally, if not more, to women.

                  • Holyhyrax

                    Also, as opposed to Tibet, in our instance, women share responsibility for what the “media” does to them

                  • Anna Tarkov

                    Even if I accepted this line of reasoning, did anyone see the Tibet Groupon ad and decide to go and oppress some Tibetans? No? Then your argument makes no sense. But did anyone see the ad and think “Hahaha, Tibetans being oppressed is HILARIOUS!” Yes, maybe, and that’s the possible consequence that upsets you, right? And it upsets me too by the way. Now, did anyone see any of the ads objectifying women and think “objectifying women is HILARIOUS!” Probably. How is that not the same?

                    • Holyhyrax

                      But who goes out and decides to oppress women after watching the Go Daddy ad? or the Kardashian ad? Perhaps our differences in opinion lie in what each of us think as oppression. The objectifying of women is not black and white, that is why I don’t think they are the same. A consequence to objectifying women does not have to be rape. It can simply hooting at women when they cross the street. And considering that women are the ones putting themselves in these positions in the media, I can’t find it to be the same.

                      Don’t get me wrong. I am a child of LA. Its all over the place. Sometimes I feel myself to be desensitized. I have to remind myself at how bad its gotten and how to teach my girls and how bad its getting. But laughing at women willingly walking in a bikini is not the same to me as using an oppressed people (again, or their image) in your ad

                    • Anna Tarkov

                      I find your repeated allusion to women being a willing party to objectification to be abhorrent. Absolutely detestable. I don’t think you see the problem with this thinking so I’m going to refrain from commenting on it further. I’ve actually come across this a lot with men, even well-meaning progressive men who are sensitive to women’s issues. So you’re not alone here. I’ll say one thing though and that is to think again about Rabbi Fink’s comment where he said that these ads objectify ALL women, not just the ones who volunteered to appear in them. Unless the makers of the ad took the time to check with every woman, this objectifications is more certainly happening without our collective permission.

                      As for someone seeing an ad objectifying women and then going out and raping someone, no, of course I don’t think that’s likely to happen (though of course it can). The CUMULATIVE effect of all the ads, fashion magazines, etc. is the problem. One ad isn’t the problem. But an entire culture that objectifies women IS.

                    • Holyhyrax

                      The fact that you find it detestable is irrelevant to whether its true or not. Perhaps once women start taking some responsibility TRUE progress can take affect. I think there is a lot of talk about objectifying women. But enough these same people are the ones reading Vogue, or People or buying those products, or watching the TV shows. If you’re not, then good for you.

                      Perhaps I am more taken aback from this Tibet because I have simply never seen such a thing ever. What is stopping Groupon from going to the Congo next?

                    • The Law

                      What about the woman who attempted to throw a soda can at her husband, or emasculated him at every turn in that pepsi max commercial? lets hear your rail on about that! You are full of crap. sorry if that offends you, but i saw it on a commercial and now thats how i treat women

                  • Anonymous

                    I keep reading the phrase “actual oppression.” As if there is only one type of oppression, and everything else is just figurative. There are several ways to oppress “a people,” and each one is legitimate oppression. Political oppression, religious oppression, racial oppression, societal oppression, etc. They all have measurable consequences.

                  • The Law

                    TITCR

  • http://twitter.com/azigra Azi

    I was just your 52nd retweet!

  • http://twitter.com/paigeworthy Paige Worthy

    Rock on.

  • http://twitter.com/mominisrael Hannah Katsman

    The Groupon ad isn’t offensive. It’s idiotic.

    • Anonymous

      It’s definitely idiotic. But you can’t say it isn’t offensive if it has already offended some segment of people!

      You can say “it’s not offensive to me” :)

  • http://twitter.com/alexphilo7 Philo

    REF,

    Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more. And I loved the Detroit ad too.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm, what about the use of the throwing of a soda pop can at your husbands head in an ad?

    Heinous or harmless?

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Not a fan. Nor was I a fan of the stereotypes in that commercial. (IE black man ogles white woman and black couple “flees the scene of a crime”) OY!

      • Anonymous

        I noticed that too. Stupid because it would have been just as funny with a white (or any race) couple. Stereotype also includes that white women don’t want “their man” looking at other women!

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