thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Posts Tagged ‘commercials’

Interlude: Just Bitten

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Chelsea H.

I generally like Jessica Biel.  I remember her from 7th Heaven, and it has been fun watching her mature from overalls to pencil skirts and super-sexy-but-still-innocent feel.  But now she’s in a commercial that bothers me.

Okay, as usual, this ad bother me.  First of all, we’ve got gorgeous Jessica Biel looking ethereal and semi-waif-y, but also overtly sexy with that lace top that emphasizes her top half.  And when she opens her (perfectly slicked, perfectly colored) lips, what comes out is a plug in a smoky, sultry voice for a product called… Just Bitten.

And that’s where my problem lies: what kind of name is that?  Biel asks us “Have you ever been bitten?”  What does that mean?  Bitten by… the guy floating around in the background, alternately kissing and creepily sneaking behind her?  Yes, she has delightfully flushed lips, but they don’t really look like someone… bit her.  Further, there is no biting in this commercial!  There is kissing, but the product isn’t called “Just Kissed,” it’s called “Just Bitten.”

So, all I can figure is that Revlon is capitalizing on the tremendous popularity and sexualization of vampires in today’s culture.  We are supposed to hear the phrase “Just Bitten” and think of Twilight, or True Blood, or Vampire Diaries, or something…  And yet no one bites her!  Why, if Revlon is going to reference a biting, do they not show the guy nibbling her neck or something?  Why doesn’t she bite her own bottom lip in that pouty/sexy way some girls do?  By the end of the commercial as Biel lies on the ground, shouldn’t she somehow be displaying bite marks? Instead we get this soft lighting and pale pastel and pastoral scenery, into which neither the bright lipstain shade nor the creepy vampiric name of the product fit.

Interlude: BIG SEXY

In gender, girl culture on August 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

Chelsea H.

I must confess, I haven’t seen this show yet.  In fact, no one has, because it doesn’t premiere until Tuesday.  I’ve only seen promos.  But I want to think about the messages this promo conveys, because I am both in support of and resistant to its potential impact.

What I like: These women love their bodies!  They have learned to resist, or ignore, or laugh at, the judgments American society makes about larger bodies, especially for women.  They, I would bet, would laugh just as hard at the idea of low-calorie brownies as I did in my last post.  They consider themselves beautiful and sexy and worthy of fulfilling relationships, or just flings, and that is wonderful.  Good for them for loving themselves and having a strong support group to hang with.  Their lives look like a lot of fun, and I think their decision to take on the problematic, thin-obsessed fashion industry in New York is a brave, and needed, attempt.

What I don’t like: I want to say this cautiously, because my intention is not to offend.  I don’t think judgment based on body size is good, I don’t believe in cookie-cutter shapes, and “normative” is a word that shouldn’t even exist because pretty much no one is.  However, I can’t avoid, and nor should anyone watching, that this is a reality show, and therefore these women are on display.  Maybe they want to be – maybe part of their aim is to bring attention through showing themselves – but there is the same kind of potential for objectification that occurs with every reality show: they are on TV, being watched and judged by people who they can’t see, can’t know, can’t respond to, and probably can’t even imagine. What does that do to the message they are sending?  Does it glamorize their lifestyle, and does it do that in a healthy or unhealthy way?  Does it make them desirable and admirable, or does it make them products of voyeurism?  I can’t decide.  Judging only from the promo, there seems to be a equal promise of girl-power, body-image-busting positivity, but I wonder: is that too good to be true?

So the question is, and I put it to you gals: is this a promise of empowerment, or is it just a new direction of objectified sexuality?  Is Big Sexy positive or not?  Would you watch it?  Why?  Why not?