Saturday, June 03, 2006

adverts: the price we pay

Lately I've been seeing a lot of advertisments for...well, darn, I don't even know what the product is, but they all feature wide-eyed, wide-mouthed twentysomethings about to enjoy a cold beverage. And when I say enjoy, I mean ENJOY.

I find these ads incredibly offensive. The first ones I saw were of women in approxmiately the same position, which got my feminist fur up,* and I was only slightly mollified to see men also having to endure being reduced to their orifices. But the implied sexuality in these photos goes far beyond wink wink, tongue-in-cheek humor to the point where they're too blunt to be clever and, what's worse, rude.

The second thing I've been seeing has been on the tube, a haven for advertisers, because you've got a captive audience. The posters are of sheep or donkeys being led by a carrot tied to a stick held in front of them, so I finally checked out the website,, which turned out to be an anti-iPod website. Luckily! They offer you a slew of alternatives, including the Sansa e200. Ah. I've been sucked into visiting a corporate website. Damn. I was offended by this website, for implying that I am sheepily following the herd by owning an iPod. As their "manifesto" reads, "The time has come to rise up against the iTatorship. To resist the monotony of white earbuds and reject the oppressive forces of cultural conformity."**

Oh, really?

"Dear Sansa e200 People. Here are my reasons for owning an iPod:
1. It was a gift from my loving parents.
2. I am a Mac user. My Mac and my iPod get along VERY well, since they were made for each other. Rather than "following the herd" I have been bucking trends for a LOOOONG time.
3. 90% of the music on my iPod is musicals. At last count I had nearly 60. Musicals which I paid for because I believe in supporting the fine arts, not crap pop bands with one hit that sells for 99 cents on iTunes.***
4. I do not have an iTunes account. I do buy CDs from good local bands and burn them into my iPod and then pass along the joy.
5. The sound quality on those white earbuds that you deride so much is INCREDIBLE. I would not have believed it possible for something so small to sound so good, but it does. I use them because they're good, not because they're a status symbol.
6. The reason that iPods sell so well is not because we've been marketed to, but because the product is quality. QED."

I was more upset that this website masqueraded as a legitimate protest against iPods, because some of the websites they listed ARE legitimate anti-iPod sites, but then turned into a huge advertisement for the Sansa e200. The protest should be against the lifestyle of appearance and consumerism that is apparently "defined" by owning an iPod. It is. Death to soulless corporate cutouts. But this is definitely an example of killing the messenger because of the message. The only part of that manifesto that rings true is the bit about rejecting the forces of cultural conformity. Unfortunately their "solutions" are way off the mark.

*That would be leg hair
**I had to copy all that out! I couldn't cut and paste! Ai!
*** The exception, of course, being Phantom of the Opera, but I don't think Andrew Lloyd Webber missed my twenty bucks.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I'm glad you pointed out exactly why the add with this open-mouthed git is so offensive - and in such an articulate and tasteful way. I was about to say this guy looks like he's about to enjoy something else- and then I remembered that your parents read this! You're absolutely right the sexuality of this advert is apparent.
Second of all it's sad to see some 'ipod alternative' co-opting the real ipod protest. I've got nothing against ipods personally (and I dont' think it should matter if you have an ipod account or purchase CDs) I just think we need to call attention to the fact where people go through life with headphones in their ears - there's no more time for quiet contemplation when going for a walk or riding a bus. Not to mention that music is something produced for mass consumption - to be produced for instant gratification. Music is no longer somehting you make either by yourself or with your family for the pleasure of participating in something beautiful. It's been reduced to something you buy and there's pressure to consume - to constantly be sucking it up through your ears while your riding your bike or reading your mail so much so that you probably can't remember what it's like to hear the birds chirp or hear the distant peaceful sound of the approaching thunder as you run down the road to Taco Bell. That's MY complaint - and it's not limited to just the ipod.

Thanks, Nicki for handing me the soapbox and giving me a forum.