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Archive for December, 2009

We all know that advertising has taken a particularly nasty turn in recent years. Companies directly attack each other–something that long ago would have been completely inappropriate. Sexuality has never been more prevalent in the mainstream as it is now, and you can bet on seeing at least one cheesy Cialis, Viagra, or KY Jelly commercial every time a commercial block comes on TV.

The new Sketchers ad features a woman’s breasts talking to each other. The woman is wearing a bra and panties and her chest fills the screen as some man reads off something about Sketchers shoes…honestly I couldn’t tell you what he says. It’s not until the word “Sketchers” dances across the screen that you realize the commercial had nothing to do with boobs, women, or sex. Just shoes.

It’s a sad statement about where our culture has gone to see how pervasive sex is in our advertising. It says that we, as a culture, have a one-track mind. Make us think we’re going to get some by purchasing a product and we’ll buy it in bulk. But this isn’t the only way sex is being used in advertising anymore. Now we must be tied to a product by the implication of pleasure. The product itself may not have any direct connection to our sexual lives, yet the ad agencies are trying their damnedest to make a connection that will resonate with our needs to “get our rocks off.”

The Swiffer commercials are the newest wave in this attempt. They always feature a woman (never a man) “breaking up” with their mop, broom, duster, etc. The forlorn cleaning utensil is then shown to be distraught, suffer from insomnia, or try to win back his “lady-love” to no avail, usually set to a song like “Love Stinks” or “Baby Come Back.”  The woman has found a new pleasure. Something that really cleans, not just pretends to. The funny thing about these commercials is that they are the most overt attempt to make an association between women, relationships, and cleaning products. Women are in a relationship with cleaning. Women love cleaning like they would love a man. And if you can help her clean better, you can satisfy her better. Treat her right or you’re sleeping alone. Kinda sick.

I think it’s incredible interesting that Swiffer took this route, mostly because their product almost sells itself. Generally speaking, the Swiffer is a miracle invention due to its ease of use and it’s vast array of applications. The products are cheap and disposable and are found in the cleaning aisle right next to all the household necessities.

It’d be impossible NOT to know what Swiffer is. Yet they have created these commercials, created this connection in order to raise their notoriety even further. The squeegee mop wakes from a nightmare in which he dreams about his “ex” sweeping a Swiffer seductively around her kitchen clearly having the time of her life. Giving human characteristics to these inanimate objects and making them the brunt of humility and dejection is supposed to be humorous. The woman throws out the undeserving, irresponsible, lack-luster boyfriend/husband/lover, for something with pizzaz, efficiency, and a certain “newness.”

Since we all know a mop couldn’t really love a woman, we can laugh at the silliness of the advertisements. But does a woman really love her cleaning utensils? Are they really as important as a relationship…but maybe of a different kind? Is she really a cold, calculating partner who would overthrow her “relationship” because something comes along that’s more “easy?” It certainly says alot about the nature of a woman’s love, and about the importance of removing the slightest bit of dirt.

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Winter La-La Land

While sitting in Jazzman’s Cafe in the Social Sciences building on campus, I watched the people bustling in and out of the doors. It was forty-three degrees outside, probably colder with the wind-chill, and the sun had already set for the day. Despite the weather,  the students were dressed in an odd variety of wardrobe choices, ranging from knit hats, scarves, and pea coats, to shorts, tee shirts, and dresses.

Every year when winter begins blowing, I am curious to see how many people attempt to fight the change in seasons and continue wearing their summer attire. That guy who’s still wearing khaki shorts and flip flops nearing Christmas Day. The girl who wears her tiny jean skirt and UGG boots, not needing anything in between. I often wonder what these people are trying to prove and if they know they look stupid as hell.

On said day in Jazzman’s Cafe, I saw eight such ridiculously dressed individuals, within about twenty minutes. Here I sat, indoors, with my black pea coat still on and buttoned up, my scarf still loosely hanging around my neck, holding a steaming cup of coffee hoping it would bring the feeling back into my fingers, while these people traipsed past me in various states of what I can only refer to as “undress.” A girl wearing a blue, strappy sundress covered in bright flowers and sandals. A guy wearing a giant threadbare Insane Clown Posse teeshirt that made me question what was still holding it together. And a girl wearing the tiniest “club” dress I’ve ever seen (I’m pretty sure it was just a very tiny sparkly shirt). I’m just glad she was wearing underwear…

I’m a girl. I get wanting to look good. I get that winter isn’t exactly the season you walk around looking your “hottest,” but I can promise you that pneumonia looks even worse than your most chunky of sweaters. And guys? Girls just think you look like a stupid idiot wearing shorts and a teeshirt in the dead of winter. Your Polo shirts would look so much better peeking out from the collar of a sweater or long-sleeved shirt. Promise. And blue, frost-bitten toes are a huge turn off. They make really cute socks nowadays.

What possesses people to loathe throwing on a coat and pants when it’s cold outside? Particularly if you’re having to trudge around campus, inevitably spending a fair amount of time outside in the cold. With all the thousands, millions of choices these days of winter-wear, why would you rather freeze your ass off just to stand out in the crowd. Is it some sort of new attempt at being unique? Does it say something about your character? “Oh no, I’m a badass. I don’t feel the cold. I’m really a reptile…”

And don’t give me the excuse that you’re from the North. Near freezing is still pretty fucking cold up there, too. And I doubt you wore your Rainbow’s around up there. I’m not impressed, and I’m pretty sure any potential person you *might* strike up a conversation with is going to ask you about your mental stability for showing up in such an outfit. If that’s your idea of a pick-up line, you really should have read more as a child. You need a new imagination.

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