Currently in my Media Studies class we are learning about stereotypes in the media. For our screening last week, we were presented two documentaries on this issue: Killing Us Softly 3 (imdb) and Tough Guise (imdb). I thought I could apply some of the ideas presented in these documentaries to our discussion on how genders are presented in advertising, specifically of alcohol.
Killing Us Softly 3 focuses on the portrayal of women in advertising. Lecturer Jean Kilbourne begins by explaining the prominence of advertising, something we have discussed heavily in class, and its influence on the consumer culture. She primarily speaks of how advertising illustrates women with unrealistic ideals of beauty, forcing females to consume in products in order to achieve beauty and, therefore, happiness. “…from the economic necesity to create demand…arose advertising’s power to induce false needs in people” (Leiss, Kline, Jhally, Botterill 83). Additionally, she describes how, in ads, women are seen as “objects”- sometimes literally.
At first, I figured by watching this video, I would see how this movie connects to the advertising in women’s magazines. However, it seems more fitting for the advertisement in men’s magazines, especially the latter. And it makes sense: females that read women’s magazines are looking for ways to improve themselves, and therefore don’t want to see themselves as inferior “objects”. However, these images of submissive women usually display sexual undertones, and hence appeal to a male audience.
Kilbourne references alcohol advertisements specifically during the film, as well, with other ads.
Further examples can be found here.
Tough Guise serves as a foil to Killing Us Softly 3 in that it discusses the male stereotypes in advertising. Narrator Jackson Katz explains how men are portrayed as dominant, strong, powerful, and sometimes violent characters in media. Though this may be true in movies and music, it is rare in advertising, for as aforementioned advertising usually tried to sell “happiness”, such as follows:
However, one advertisement for Bacardi found in a male magazine did display violent traits:
Though the ad promotes a “fruity drink”, something predominately geared towards females, it showcases a dangerous “thorny bush”, hence a challenge for men to conquer.
Hence, controversies dealing with advertising’s stereotypes towards different genders can be supported by advertisements for alcohol.