Media Example: Food Advertisements


Individual Analysis (Ross Destiche)

1. The heterosexual male persona is stereotyped as the big and strong, the protector and provider; so why is it that a burger (a food commonly understood to be high in fat and low in real nutrition) has become a staple meal?
2. How has food (an asexual component) become part of the sexualized matrix in our culture and what underlying function does that entail?

This commercial is all about rallying the heterosexual male populace together under the banner of manliness and eating the correct food. Almost instantly there is a distinction between the negative connotation of the "chick food" and the search for something more "manly." This commercial shows an ever-growing mass of men, marching through town under the slogans of "I am Man" and "Eat this Meat." The suggestion is that only a hearty amount of tasty meat can truly satisfy the hunger that a manly man battles with at all times. Healthy "chick food" such as celery and quiche are insults as a means of fueling the awesome feats performed by man, such as pulling a dump truck down a street. The commercial is demeaning to woman as an entire sex, and to any man who does not exist with the promoted features of an insatiable appetite, muscles, and a small beer belly. This commercial has only one goal, to appeal to it's largest audience (namely, the heterosexual male) even if that means alienating every other possibility.

Individual Analysis (Meghan Kreidler)

1. What does this commercial really have to do with the food it's promoting?
2. How does the use of sex appeal draw the audience in to wanting the burger?
3. Why is it necessary to use such blatant sexuality as a means of selling this product?

This commercial raises several issues. First, that highly sexualized female bodies represent something enticing and desirable, something that we crave and hunger for. Paris Hilton dehumanizes herself in this ad, presenting her body as an object. The Spicy BBQ Burger being advertised isn't even introduced until halfway through the video, up until this point Paris is merely shown in different provocative positions alongside a jet-black car, water and suds being poured and rubbed in to her body. When the burger does make an appearance she approaches it on all fours, like a ravenous animal, and then opens her mouth wide for a big, sexual bite. The display of her body is the most jarring part of the commercial. The audience is presented with several images of Paris bending over, writhing and caressing her body, and sticking her fingers in her mouth and licking them. What becomes important in the commercial is not the burger, but the body. The audience is expected to become aroused by the ad and therefore desire the burger. However, the use of the woman's body as a tool to sell is in a way like prostitution. It creates the message that women must present their bodies as highly sexual objects in order to be desired.

Big Picture Analysis

Both commercials represent two ideas that reflect on gender roles and normative behavior. Despite the fact that both commercials focus on selling a burger, they focus on it in very different ways. One commercial, featuring Paris Hilton, is highly sexualized and hardly focuses on the item being sold. The other commercial features a slew of manly men ready to eat their manly meal and be "manly". This commercial presents a very one-sided idea of gender, and the thick, juicy food that highlights this masculinity. The first commercial caters to a male audience; instead of being presented with the same power and dominance as the second commercial, it makes the woman more of an object and less in control of her desire for that object. The types of food that are advertised for each gender, and how they are advertised, are very telling of how society predominantly views men and women. While women are encouraged to eat smaller portions and lighters foods, men are taught to seek refuge in foods that will reiterate their power and masculinity.

The most apparent connection that the two media examples have is in their target audience. Whilst one goes about appealing to the target audience with a (socially deemed) beautiful woman, the other goes about it with a reaffirmation of their gender role and sexuality. The way in which the heterosexual male is attracted towards the product may vary, but the fact remains that the product is created and marketed exclusively towards a particular sexual being in mind. This opens up the realization that all products being manufactured, bought, and sold have become entangled into being sexualized to some degree. All asexual objects: cars, food, or computers have all been sub-consciously assigned a gender. Another way in which the media examples relate to each other is once again tied to heterosexual males. In both instances the heterosexual male is portrayed as either the benefactor of something positive happening to him or reasserting his preexisting dominant role. The women in the examples are passive, objectified, and dismissed as being inferior. The food companies producing this media have a clear image in mind: that it is a man's world, so the only people that will buy our products are men.

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