Thursday, July 26, 2007
This billboard has caused a firestorm of criticism in my community. The local newspaper featured several stories and the online forum for each drew pages and pages of comments.
A 37-year-old mother, Jennifer Dufner is at the front of a media campaign calling the billboard inappropriate. She has expressed concern over how the image will affect her 3 step kids (all younger than 10).
In this article, Dufner seems concerned about the clothing (or lack thereof) that is worn. I'm not offended really, this outfit is more than most women would wear for swim-wear. Rather than young children, I find myself worried about adolescent and pre-teen girls who see this billboard.
Young girls seeing this image will be very clear on the message. The sign says "THIS is what an acceptable, sexy woman looks like." And consequently, if you want to feel valued by men or if you want men to find you attractive, you will conform this beauty norm. I'm not saying this billboard alone does this. But this billboard paired with every other ad depicting young women, any every MTV image tells women that being thin, blonde, (and consequently, white) equals value. Not to mention that you make yourself sexually avaliable.
Young girls are told over and over through various mediums that they need to be provocatively dressed and sexually available. Interesting that in this billboard, the young woman has no head, no mouth no face-- none of that pesky personality. She's quite literally just a hot piece of ass.
What a nice message.
I can't see how this billboard breaks any obscenity law (our town's city council has agreed) but it certainly doesn't brighten my day driving by it. Just another disappointing ad in a trend of ads that cut apart women's bodies to sexually entice men and in turn, sell product. In this case, rock music. Not that women being sexy = horrible. Sure, entice the men-folk. But how about a hot rocker chick playing a guitar or belting out a song? Why is she this passive, faceless OBJECT?
On a related note, dehumanizing women in billboards has been a hot topic of late. There was a recent uproar about a much more disgusting billboard advertising for the movie Captivity. The sexualization of violence was so blatant in this case that the billboard was eventually pulled. And I must say, that if I had kids and they saw that atrocity, I WOULD be horrified as well. If my kid asked about the ROCK 102 billboard I could roll my eyes, but the Captivity poster is sick on a different level.
If you want a fabulous source for portrayals of women in advertising, look up Jean Kilbourne. Her video documentary series "Killing us Softly" is amazing.
The Rock station's billboard is relatively tame to be sure, but I wouldn't shed a tear if they all came down. I just think the advertisers could stand to stretch their imagination a little more. The sexualization of women's body to sell product is so overdone. Imagine doing something unique and actually clever.
Personally what offends me most is that she looks like she has the beginning of a wedgie.