Recently, I've reentered the world of television. I was a given a little 11 inch (?) TV with antennae and sure enough I've found myself turning it on for the news and then getting stuck watching for an extra hour. Well, I'm noticing a trend in commercials... mainly that they haven't changed at all when it comes to portraying men and women. Take for example this recent, innocent Yoplait yogurt commercial:
Let's break this down: a perfectly healthy looking woman is on a diet. And it's so difficult to keep her mind off snacking that she goes crazy knitting to keep herself busy. The male in the commercial is introduced only for humor--he comes in with a knitted basketball jersey and says, honey this is too hot. Now, this guy looks like you're average guy--he's a bit on the chubby side. But you don't see him knitting like an idiot, frazzled because of some stupid diet, instead he's dressed up ready for a game of basketball. There were several ways to approach this comic relief--he could have entered wearing a knitted sweater and been like, honey, you know it's July right?--but instead Yoplait chose to reinforce gender stereotypes that women diet and suffer and that men are active and sports minded.
The real culprit is the recent Volkswagen car campaign. In it, different people are driving around in different cars and they're all playing off the same logo. Okay, fine. (I'll post it as soon as I can find it online.) In one scene, a woman asks her (presumably) boyfriend, "Am I high maintenance?" To which he lovingly replies, "No," only to look back at the camera with a look on his face to say, of course she is high maintenance. I think both men and women should be offended by this. Women: stop asking trivial questions that you should know the answer to. How not self-aware must you be, if you don't know the answer to: am I high maintenance. Men: You all are apparently liars. You wonder why women constantly have to berate you over the same thing? Do you like my haircut? Are you sure? You mean it? You do like it right? Really? It's because of commercials like this that constantly depict you as lying. How are we supposed to trust you when every media outlet portrays men who are untrustworthy. Stop being so whipped that you can't give an honest opinion. And equally important--why would you put up with a woman who is high maintenance if you find it so unappealing? These two lines of dialogue add nothing to the commercial or ad campaign. They only serve to subscribe to conventional gender stereotypes.
Both commercials are a real disappointment.