Lose to Gain.

I came across this ad for a nutrition beverage a few days ago.  What I found most interesting is the fact that the tag line reads, “Free your joints”, and yet it really looks like there is more loss than freedom.

Again, this type of advertising is reflective of the times in which robotism seems to be more and more normalized, and humanity is made more abnormal.

The fact that the man is flexing communicates empowerment–thusly, the audience connects this literal disjointing (or dehumanizing) with power and masculinity.  Also, this product is a life nutrition beverage.  What does it say about us when we link nutrition with a superficial image like this?

One more noteworthy aspect of this ad is that the product is not even at the forefront–it is made minuscule, squeezed to the corner of the ad, while the image of the man’s muscular arm is the largest image on our screen.

We must remember that the more we commodify our bodies, the less we accentuate what makes us uniquely human.  The imagery is all around us, we just need to pay attention–and then do something about it.

If you can’t beat them…beat yourself.

Here are some thoughts on the feminist movement which draws its empowerment from oppression.

I feel that this movement is the result of a shallow group of people who refused to dig deeper as they searched for a solution to the problem of womanizing, for their solution was to womanize themselves.

A woman can embrace the terms “slut” and “ho”, she can embrace these terms through her attire, she can be proud of sending pictures of her objectified body to men, but for me, this is merely an acceptance to this problem, not a solution.

Females, in the end, man fantasized the sexualized image he has of you, and until you denounce that image, he remains in power. Even if you perceive it as empowering for you, the creator of that image remains in control (and you can bet your ass he remains satisfied), so in that sense, is it truly—and fully—liberating?

Think about it. What has been the result of women sexually embracing their objectification?

Happy-as-fuck MEN. ——>

Remember, a complex problem such as commodifying women in a capitalist, patriarchal world requires a more complex solution than simply embracing what your oppressors created.

Ending rant now with a noteworthy quote.

“Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.”

-Ivan Pavlov

When man meets machine, it sounds amazing on a good sound system.

I have always more or less been intrigued by how a particular genre of music defines us culturally, or tells a story about the times in which the music thrives.

In the 60’s, you’ll hear songs about being drafted into war, about protesting it, about peace, hippie culture, experimental drugs, what-have-you.

In the 70’s, there was disco, which really encompassed a sort of carefree attitude–dancing the night away on glittery dance floors with gold chains, the afro-movement, more drugs, etc.

You get the idea.

Dubstep is the musical fusion of humanity and intense technological bedlam; and make no mistake, it tells a story of the times.

Note in this picture how a human body part has been fused with a non-human object (speakers).  We ARE the music now.

This particular video I came across features a popularized song called “Pumped Up Kicks”–only it has been remixed in the dubstep genre–add to that a great visual of a person dancing to it, and you have the very essence of dubstep music.

In short, it really captures the essence of a malfunctioning robot with remnants of humanistic qualities interlaced within the chaos.  After all, a lot of dubstep usually begins with a humanistic musical structure, possibly a voice singing a sensible melodic line.  A build-up begins, where the listener will hear the technology creeping up behind the initial melodies, and after a great tension builds, we are released when the all-out explosion of hard technology shoots through the roof…it sounds like a fusion of hip-hop and robot-rock.

Dubstep reflects that grittiness of when man meets machine–in our current times, we are definitely fascinated with how we can mesh ourselves with technology.  Just look at the millions of views this particular video has received.

The food for thought here is the call to just be aware of how music can reflect the times, and what that says about our culture.  In the case of dubstep and other computerized music, it is just further proof that we are not only removing ourselves from humanity, but meshing ourselves with that which is not human.

The Fascinating World of Celebrity News

As I was trying to decide what news report to blog about next, I found myself in the celebrity news section in AZ Central.

It dawned on me that the titles themselves were worthy enough of blogging about.

Britney Spears is learning to sew.

Michael Bublé wants kids.

Bruce Willis is pissed at Ashton Kutcher.

Charlie Sheen to dress as Charlie Sheen for Halloween.

Lindsay Lohan buys cupcakes for morgue staff.

John Travolta gets KFC table snub.

Daniel Craig growing beard for new Bond film.

Kirsten Dunst is learning to dress her age.

Rebecca Black challenges Taylor Swift to a fashion face-off.

Kelly Rowland wants Naomi Campbell’s figure.

Kate Winslet put bra on before fleeing house fire.

Brad Pitt wants more kids.

Kelly Clarkson wants to ‘punch’ Adele.

David Hasselhoff won’t stop proposing to girlfriend.

So, here is my detailed analysis of these headlines.  Ready?

1.  What does this say about our culture and what we find important when it comes to some of the highest paid citizens of our country?

2.  Umm omg, Daniel Craig is totally hotter without the beard.

Sometimes, short does the job.

-C

“It’s Just Not Working Out…Because You Don’t Look Like Jessica Alba.”

I thought it was a joke when I read the headline.

“Chinese woman to have surgery to look like Jessica Alba in desperate bid to win back her ex-boyfriend”

This article highlights the social tension of a young woman wanting to exist as her natural self, and wanting to exist as a desirable lover to her boyfriend.

The 22-year-old woman, identified only as Xiaoqing, describes her ex-boyfriend’s obsession with Jessica Alba, saying that his infatuation drove him to hang pictures of Alba on the walls of his home (not only his bedroom), to buy her a blonde wig and demand that she never take it off, and to command her to wear her makeup like Alba–even while sleeping.

Her tension reared its ugly head one day when she was mocked in public for trying to look like someone who she was clearly not–this resulted in a thrash-about of public wig removing, false-eyelash ripping and makeup wiping.  Xiaoqing had had enough.

Unfortunately, trying to be her natural self was not good enough for her boyfriend, who promptly ended their relationship.

BUT.

Xiaoqing realized that she couldn’t be without her man, and so she went public about her plans to have reconstructive facial surgery in order to win him back.  She went public with this news in hopes to raise money for her operation.

‘I’m not only doing it for my ex-boyfriend but for myself,’ she said. ‘I am a psychologically weak person. I want to do something to challenge myself and build a strong personality through it.’

It is for this reason why more ad campaigns should exist which work to combat the bombardment of the beauty-standard–worldwide.  This poor young woman, who is perfectly fine the way she is, has become psychologically weak due to the constant competing notions of the true self and the public self.

Her words also reflect the belief that one must be outwardly beautiful to be inwardly beautiful–through this face-changing operation, she will “build a strong personality through it”.

(If it’s any consolation, maybe Xiaoqing has a one-up on Alba–since she can look photoshopped ALL the time now.)

A comment on the article’s comment thread put it shortly but pretty damned accurately:

“She needs therapy–not surgery.”

I think the same goes for a lot more people than we think.

Read the full article here:

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246417/Chinese-woman-undergo-extensive-surgery-look-like-actress-Jessica-Alba–win-ex-boyfriend.html#ixzz1aKAc42Bs

The Anti-Advertisement.

I recently stumbled upon an organization called the Anti-Advertising-Agency, and was immediately drawn to its unconventional ways of advertising–the “anti” advertising approach.  As part of a recent project, the agency created these stickers (made free to the public) to put on various ads around town.  Here are some examples of what people did with them:

What I do appreciate about this campaign is the fact that its creators stood to gain no profit from this.  The stickers were made free to the public and the agency even extended the choice to not have its logo on the stickers.  In this sense, the “you don’t need it campaign” stands as a purely advocative project with more raw intent than many other “advocacy groups” today.  It’s not the, “Oh, animal cruelty is immoral and we must help…donate 50 dollars and 2 percent will go…somewhere” campaign.  It just wants to state something, loud and clear, to the public–no bullshit, just words.

The only critique I have with this campaign is my belief that consumer society is generally a very entitled one that does not want to be told what to do (though the very nature of commercial advertising is to silently persuade us over time).  In other words, the minute we are told directly what we do and do not need, up go the walls.  There is nothing worse than telling someone who doesn’t like being told what to do–what to do.

It’s obvious that the pop-culture items we desire are not blatantly crammed down our throats–commercials are creative.  They draw on the intangible.  They sometimes contain powerful narratives.  I know the word “subliminal” stings a bit, but for lack of a better one, I think commercial advertising has subliminally manipulated us to desire certain objects through the not-so-obvious.

This ad campaign, if it wished to affect change, perhaps should have used the same tools of unspoken influence to affect change for the deeper and not for the superficial.  It may be a controversial approach–but I would argue that the means by which we influence are not bad–it’s the actions or desires that we make influential which count.

The technique was very straightforward–which is respectable.  However–how it was received by the public is a different story.  A comment thread on the agency’s website revealed mixed responses from people–one person wrote that it was “patronizing” to society.

Another person sarcastically wrote,

“Could you make stickers that tell me what I DO need?

Clearly, I can’t think for myself. Thank you for clarifying what I shouldn’t buy.”

I think this shows that the “suggestive–not demanding” approach has and always will be effective in affecting change, whatever that change may be.  The creative persuasion process has definitely been used irresponsibly by advertising titans who want to make a profit.  Be that as it may, I believe that we can still use the power and beauty of symbols to communicate truths and advocate depth–without “selling out”.

Women: The Ultimate Commodity. Girls: The Ultimate Trainees.

Cringe a bit.  This ad (as part of Dove’s ad Campaign for Real Beauty) speaks to me on two different levels:

Firstly, that women have become a shallow, disposable commodity to the point where there is notable concern with female youth and the blitz of messages they absorb from an ever-present media.

I thought of this little one-liner (pretty randomly) a few months ago:  “And thus it is the design of society, that it has become so easy to look at people but so difficult to see them.”  This ad executes that particular feel quite well:

It does a terrific job of creating the feel of an “onslaught” of messages which is ultimately quite overwhelming; even though we do not literally see ads in this fast paced way, it is not out of reach to say that this amount of ads are bound to be seen in just a matter of time.  Not only this, but it literally communicates that the women shown are a reflection of the video’s editing technique process: fleeting, insatiable, quickly forgotten, arguably insubstantial.

All the while, a young girl who is trying to define herself in the world is being bombarded with these messages–and can we ultimately blame her when she begins emulating that behavior?

Secondly, this ad campaign reassures me that I’m not off my rocker.

When I attempt to explain this phenomenon of the person as a commodity, many people don’t get it–or if they do, they don’t find anything wrong with it.  But to accept a facet of society’s inner workings simply because we have been desensitized to it is perhaps a defense mechanism. To me, it seems to be a mechanism for avoiding the moral anxiousness caused by the tenacity to think critically.

Indeed, this ad by Dove  shows us that by our female youth being “desensitized” to the onslaught of messages about what “true” female beauty is, she–and the rest of society–have been desensitized to what it means to be a human being.  We are simply firmer, tighter, lighter, slimmer–instead of more ambitious, profound, diplomatic, humble–and yes, sexy or attractive–just in a way that is not prepackaged, repackaged, and resold again and again.

I hope that through this ad campaign (which received widespread support from all over the globe–again, it’s not just me) speaks to its viewers like it has spoken to me.  I hope it has proven (through the utilization of inescapable, concrete materials we actually see on a daily basis) that being a commodity more than a human being robs us of our great right to be above products and services as complex individuals.

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