Friday, February 6, 2015

Rewriting the Rules

Sunday's Superbowl had more viewers than any other TV program in history. This is the only TV event, I can think of, where views look forward to the commercials. In fact, that's the primary reason that some people watch. Did you know that a 30 second Superbowl commercial costs roughly 4.5 million dollars? 

I only watched the last 3 minutes of the game clock and glad I tuned in. That was intense! Thanks to Hulu's Ad Center and Youtube I was able to see many of the commercials. 

I braced myself for the customary offensive, objectifying ads. Per usual Carl's Jr. delivered. Carl's Jr. continues to equate women to meat- to be ogled, lusted after and then devoured. Of course they stop there. They don't continue with what happens to that sensual burger after its gone through the digestive system. And yet women are often left feeling like that byproduct after viewing their ads.  

*Deep Breath* 

AND there were many enjoyable, funny & poignant ads that made me hopeful about media in the US and American socialization. 

I was touched by Budweiser's puppy. How can you not love that puppy? 

Snickers' Brady Bunch with Steve Buscemi saying the iconic, "Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!" had me laughing out loud.  

I appreciated Coca-Cola reminding us that we make this world what it is and we can choose to #MakeItHappy. (I grew up in a serious Coke family. Even though I rarely drink soda anymore, Coke will always have a special place in my heart. It's my go to cola. It also was one of my first words. Ha!).  

But for me, there were two STANDOUT commercials. 

First, Always. I'm so in love with their #LikeAGirl campaign!! 

Yes!Yes!Yes! Thank you Always for taking on the derogatory attribution of the phrase, "like a girl." If doing anything "like a girl" is a socially recognized insult then what are we telling our daughters about the value of being a girl? All of this matters because it informs and influences how a girl (then a women) views herself and her value to society.

I'm a girl. I run like a girl. I throw like a girl. I love like a girl. I advocate like a girl. I create art like a girl. Because I am a girl (woman). I love being a girl (woman).  

Let's Rewrite the Rules!!

Speaking of rewriting the rules...

Two car companies focused on Dads. Nissan's #WithDad campaign and Toyota's #BoldDad campaign.

Nissan's #WithDad reinforces the hyper-masculinity expect of men and their prescribed gender role as bread-winner.  Set to Cat's in a Cradle (a song about a father never establishing a meaningful and connective relationship with his son because he prioritizes his career), it depicts a largely absentee race car driving father who tries to stay in touch with his family. I'm confused as to why this campaign is called #WithDad seeing as the father and son are rarely together. It should be called #WithLonging.

This Dad is cool and manly. He drives fast cars and walks away from serious crashes with a victorious fist in the air. The sons simultaneously plays out the scene with his toy cars and mirroring fist raising thereby being indoctrinated in what it means to be a man.

And then there is #BoldDad by Toyota. It is bold, brave and beautiful. deeply effected me.

The socialization of gender roles harms boys/men just as much as it does girls/women. Toyota rewrites what it means to be a Dad by pushing against all those expectations propagated by Nissan.

The Dad in this ad is present, emotionally available and connective. There is no longing in his daughter's eyes. When she's leaving a party upset, she knows that her dad will be there (wiping away her tears). We're told that being a Dad is a choice and that a Dad's choices in actions and words will influence the human being a child becomes. A human being that will make their own choices.  

The end moment in these two campaigns couldn't be more diverse. After a montage of loneliness, the Dad in #WithDad surprises his now adolescent son by picking him up from school. Clearly, a novelty. They hug and drive away. In #BoldDad, we discover this Dad has been driving his daughter to the airport and she has joined the Army. We take from the growing up montage that because of her relationship with her Dad, this daughter is ready to be an adult, to live the life she has chosen. For me, the secure attachment of this Dad and Daughter is everything.

What are your thoughts on the Superbowl commercials? Favorites?

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