Friday, March 12, 2010

True Form of NEW Media

In contemporary mass media the far-reaching effects of advertising can sometimes be overwhelming. Although the effects media have on American men and women are extensive, it is usually the female population that is targeted and told to compulsively consume what is being marketed to them. Whether holistically beneficial to them or not, women have mostly been conformed by society to hold personal appearance as more valuable to advancement than their personality. Identifying with this intense framing of cosmetic/beauty products as the key for being “viewed” appealing to others starts at a young age, through advertising, gender roles, and familial standards. The gender roles society assigns leaves an everlasting impression upon young children about how they are to operate for the majority of their lives. As the “Construction of the Body” article illustrates in the cartoons of figure 3.19, the social roles of gender are instilled in children at a very early age, and are as rigid as can be.
American culture is sometimes criticized for the excess and materialistic nature that undoubtedly makes it what it is. Much of these characteristics of society stem in large part from the methods which advertising agencies and corporations utilize to keep the population in consumer mode. Consumers are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of what men and women are “ideally” supposed to look like. While eliminating gender roles or telling little girls not to be feminine would be as impossible as stopping perceptions of race in American society, there are other avenues which can be navigated in order to look at women through a new lens. Probably the most important one would be for advertising companies to show woman who are outside the mold of the typical runway model type. Recently Dove launched a new campaign ad depicting “real women” in all their natural beauty. However in doing so the company basically negated the progress they were making by showing all the women in their undergarments. Another aspect to changing the way women are perceived, as sexual objects of desire, should be to substantially limit or all together stop the hypersexual nature of advertisements. Dove should have just shown the ordinary women in their ad campaign with clothes on, because it would have sent an even stronger message to women who saw the ad.
In order to alter the way in which the advertisement industry type-casts women, there needs to be an increase in the refusal of women to buy media containing such ads. Gloria Steinman's essay, detailing her troubles as editor of Ms Magazine express the difficult position the magazine, and therefore many forms of media, find themselves in. However what Steinman’s essay also shows is the innovation and tenacity that more editors of media content should display in order to change the power hierarchies that are in place. Although Ms. Magazine struggled to stay in existence for quite some time, they eventually received some financial and advertisement help from an Australian company with less offensive advertisement methods towards women. Even though the magazine was eventually brought out by another company, the fact that it stayed in existence for so long utilizing such innovational practices outside the mainstream, should be deemed a success on its own. It shows that consumers and makers of media do not have to yield to the powers at be, the advertisement companies or corporations, they are the ones with the true power over what they want to be shown in mainstream mass mediated culture. If we chose not to buy products or services that use ads which are offensive or non-representative of the ordinary women, then once the sales of these advertisers and corporations start to decline they will seek out alternative measures to once again re-engage the consumers wants. Even if this boycott of products does work, people should still look to organize and join activist groups to fight this blatant objectification of women, the unhealthy nature of the toothpick thin physique promoted by advertisers, as well as the dissection of the female figure into singular body parts. This would keep the pressure on the billion dollar advertising companies and make sure they do not resort back to their old tactics. Those women who are already thin beyond feasibility, should not yearn to become more thin or stay the same size. It should be told to them by society as well as media outlets that being a healthy weight is more important than being seen as “typical” model material.

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