There wasn’t enough news happening in the world, so some media focused on the awfulness of a Super Bowl ad featuring “the voluptuous Kate Upton.”
In the ad, we’re told that Upton, wearing short shorts and a tank top, is going to wash a Mercedes Benz. In slow motion. She blows bubbles off her palm and—abracadabra!—doofuses wearing football jerseys appear from nowhere and start enthusiastically scrubbing. The car, I mean.
It is to laugh.
“It is certainly very risky,” brand expert Dean Crutchfield told Yahoo! Shine. “They’re clearly working on a new strategy that is not standard for a luxury brand, beginning with the choice of Upton, and going in a direction that is so overtly sexy.”
Overtly sexy, he says, is only for cheap cars.
Beyond that, he says, Das Automaker should be wary of pissing off women, who make two-thirds of car-purchase decisions.
I don’t know. Upton is wearing clothes. And someone else is washing the car.
Does this guy live in the US of A, where millions of NYPD Blue viewers saw Sharon Lawrence crack TV’s bare butt barrier during Prime Time nineteen years ago (and treated us to Charlotte Ross’s bare everything nine years later)? Or on planet Earth, where billions of Super Bowl viewers saw Danica Patrick and Miss Schmidt From the Dean’s Office taking a shower in 2009?
Gail Dines, Wheelock College sociology and women’s studies professor, says that while sexism in advertising is an old story, the Mercedes spot is disturbingly “old-school sexy.”
No one “pans the body like that” any more, Dines explains. “It’s so clearly turning her into an object. It’s a more traditional, old-fashioned sexism, one where the male gaze is clearly in charge.”
To be acceptable, she says, sexism in ads should be “more nuanced, with women acting as self-objectifiers who are internalizing the male gaze.”
Um, professor…I have a question: Did you watch the ad with your eyes open?
Upton is fully in charge from beginning to end. And while the guys in the jerseys are obviously spellbound—they’re fucking spellbound! Or, maybe stupified would be a better word, because they sure look stupid.
It’s not like the idea of using sexy women to sell stuff is new. And it’s not like sexy women are only used to sell things to men. If you’ve been in a grocery store at any time in the past, oh, fifty-three years, you know what I mean. Put a Playboy and a Cosmo side-by-side on a rack, and it’s not always easy to tell which is which by just looking at the pictures on the covers.
If the store also sold romance novels, you might have noticed that women with spectacular pecs are used as often as men with fabulous abs to attract the attention of buyers. And it’s highly doubtful that any guy’s guy is looking for a quick Regency to read while consuming the six-pack of High Life he popped in to purchase. Especially if there’s a game on TV.
An objection to the Mercedes ad I could buy into is that, like a hundred percent of commercials, it makes men look dumb. You know: If a hot, scantily clad international lingerie model asks a typically clueless dork to wash her car, the brain between his legs will fool him into believing that if he scrubs hard enough, she’ll beg him to start working on her with his built-in bottle-washer.
Okay…so that actually is what’s going to happen. But, I can tell you, the opportunity rarely comes up. In real life, I mean.
Another ad that ran for much of the past football season showed one dude trying to convince another to sign up for…hmmm…maybe DirectTV? Something to do with TVs. Anyways, the last reason is that if you buy whatever it is, Hannah Davis, a woman who is—and definitely should be—a scantily clad international lingerie model, will come to your house and change channels for you. Which led to this conversation:
Dave: Do you think she’ll actually come to your house?
Dave: Then why would I want to buy that…whatever it is they’re selling?
See? It’s a joke! So what if these ads make men look like morons incapable of thinking beyond the lengths of their penises? Why should that bother me—as long as I get to look at Kate Upton, Hannah Davis, Danica Patrick and Miss Schmidt From the Dean’s Office while I’m waiting to see if Ray Lewis will knock Colin Kaepernick’s cocky head off?
In fact, could we get all four of them into the shower together? Along with Sharon Lawrence and Charlotte Ross? I probably still wouldn’t buy whatever they were trying to sell me, but that surely would be a great story to see on the top of page one.