He strides toward us in navy and whit, his body muscled and heavy-set, one arm holding his casually flung jeans jacket over his shoulder. A man in his prime, with just the right combination of macho and sartorial flair.
He is also black.
She is curled and giggling upon a chair, her hair loose and flowing around her shoulders, leaning forward innocently; the very picture of a blossoming, navy flower.
She is white.
They are each pictured on a magazine page of their own, situated opposite each other in a complementary two-page layout. They are stationed in front of a muted photograph which serves as a background for each one. They both merit their own captions: bold indigo letters presiding over them in the outer corners of each page.
His says: Some Like Their Blues Hard.
Hers says: Some Like Their Blues soft.
His background depicts a thrusting struggle between a quarter back and leaping defender, a scene of arrested violence and high tension.
Her background is a lounging, bikini-clad goddess, who looks at the camera with intriguing, calm passion. She raises her hand to rest behind her head in in a languid gesture as she tries to incite passion within the viewer.
At the bottom of the page blazes the proud emblem of the company that came up with this ad: FILA JEANS
This advertisement blatantly uses stereotypes of men and women to sell its product. It caters to our need to fit into the roles that society has deemed right for the individual sexes ever since patriarchal rule rose up and replace the primitive worship of mother goddess and reverence for woman. These stereotypes handed down to us throughout the centuries spell out to us that men are violence and power incarnate, and that the manly attitude has no room for weakness or softness in nature. We find our role model of women in the compliant and eager female who obeys her man in all things, who must not say no to a male, and who is not very bright; someone who flutters her eyelashes, giggles a lot, and uses tears to get her way.
This ad tells us, by offering the image of a hard, masculine, male who is deified in violence, that he is the role model men should aspire to, and that for women, their ideal is weak but sexual, innocent and at the same time old enough to have sex. In viewing this ad, we see our aspirations clothed in Fila jeans, and to be like them, we must buy the clothes pictured here. This ad also suggests that a man can become hard and powerful dressed in jeans while a woman can become sexually intense and desirable dressed in Filas clothing.
The words of the captions tantalize with their sexual innuendo. The phrase Some like their blues hard hints at male sexual prowess. Most men and women in this country are obsessed with males need to prove their virility, and Fila play on this obsession. Females too have their own stereotype of what constitutes their sexuality. Some like their blues soft exemplifies this ideal: A woman should be soft and yielding. Her soft, sensuous body parts, which so excite her partners, have been transformed into her personal qualities. By using the term soft, Fila immediately links the girl with her sexuality to sexual organs.
We are shown by the models posture that men and women are fundamentally different and total opposites of one another. He is standing and walking with purpose; she sits, laughing trivially at the camera. Even the background hints at separation of the sexes.
The football players on the mans page are arranged in a diagonal line which starts at the upper left hand corner and runs to the opposite corner, which is the center of the ad. On her page, the enchanting nymph in the bathing suit runs on a diagonal, beginning where his ends, and traveling up to the upper right hand corner of her page. These two photos in effect create a V, that both links the two models and suggests movement away from on another. Another good example of their autonomy from one another is their skin color. He is a black man, shes white. Black is the opposite color of white on an artists color wheel and palette and symbolizes dynamically opposed forces: food and evil, night and day, man and woman. This ad hits us with the idea that men and women are not equal in nature to one another but are fundamentally different in all things. It alienates the sexes from each other. Opposite may attract, but there is no room for understanding a nature completely alien to you won.
So in viewing this add, and reading its captions, the consumer is left with the view that a woman must be soft and sensual, a males sexual dream. She must be weak, the opposite of the violence which contrasts with her on the opposite page. The men looking at this ad read the message that they are supposed to be well-dressed and powerful and posses a strength that borders a violence. As we are told by the caption, men should hard. Furthermore, men and women are opposite creatures, as different as two side of a coin.
This ad is supposed to cause us to want to meet these so called requirements, but is feels me with a feeling of sadness that this is what our nation values as important or desirable. It perpetuates the myth that men are stronger and in a note better than woman.
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