It’s nothing new. In recent pop music, Lil Wayne won a Grammy for his song “Lollipop” a few years ago. Pop music markets sex. It’s no shock or surprise. It’s been happening for decades. We let it happen because we buy it.
Advertisers target the demographic group of young adults and teens because they account for a large portion of American consumer spending. Many have their own money from working jobs through high school, or their parents’ money to help keep them in the latest trends and whatever’s cool.
I came across this piece by Claire E Dreissen from a 2005 research paper that goes into great depth on the topic of sex and advertising and how it targets the youth. It’s intentional. It’s manipulative. It’s calculated and soulless. Companies hire “cool hunting” firms to specifically and calculatingly bombard our teens and young adults with sexual imagery.
The following is from a post originally from 2002 by Lindsye Forson.
Leading the pack in explicit advertising is clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch. In their latest 2002 “XXX” catalog, it has been reported that 121 of its 280 pages show suggestive photographs which depict sexuality in many different forms, ranging from nudity to near orgies. In addition, the pages that do show clothing advertise clothes that are not for sale. It seems clear that Abercrombie is advertising something, but it certainly is not clothes. Instead, they appear to be advertising a lifestyle. A&F spokesman Hampton Carney said of the catalog, “It’s all part of the college experience . . . a commentary on college life.”
For example, A&F has come out with a line of thong underwear that is sold in its Abercrombie Kids’ stores, targeting 7 to 14 year-old children. As if selling thongs to children is not bad enough, printed conspicuously on the underwear are provocative phrases such as “wink, wink” and “eye candy.” Objectionable advertising is one thing, but pushing adult sexuality on an innocent 7-year-old child is another.
I was listening to JR Vassar give a message on Hyper-Reality, and he cited an interesting article. Recently, Disney and Forever 21 gave Minnie Mouse a makeover, to which The Disney Chick blog gave some awesome commentary:
According to Disney Consumer Products, the new style “is fresh and portrays Minnie Mouse in a way no one has ever seen her before, leggy, modern and glamorous.”
Sorry, but “Minnie Mouse Off to the Runway” looks like she is on her way back from getting wasted at a Fashion Week after party. The crooked bow, the heavy lids, the off-kilter stance – you’ve been doing something naughty, haven’t you, Minnie? (Ew.) And is she not wearing any pants? Did they actually go so far as to give Minnie white legs? (Minnie, being a mouse, would actually have black legs to match her face.) Or are they supposed to be leggings, which are never - never - an acceptable substitute for pants, and no “glamorous” women would ever wear them as such?
And she goes on…
More distressing, this incarnation of Minnie removes the “mouse” entirely. Apparently no one at Disney or Forever 21 realized that the reason no one has ever seen Minnie as being “leggy” before is because SHE IS A MOUSE. Humans have long leggy legs. Mice do not. Mice-people are creepy.
I could write a whole separate post on the problem that Leggy Modern Glamorous Minnie Mouse poses in the message she sends to her target audience, mainly impressionable tweenage girls. The stick-insect legs, the heavy makeup, the stilettos – the next thing you know, Minnie will be hanging out with Jessica Rabbit and smoking cigarettes behind the school with the Bratz dolls.
We already live in an embellished society, air-brushed and digitally-edited, destroying all objective reality, and creating a hyper-reality full of hyper-sexuality. The line from true to false and real to imaginary is blurry at best. And we’re marketing it to our kids.
Our magazines are full of “physically flawless” women. It becomes our cultural standard to what a woman should aspire to physically. Women hold them as the goal. Men hold them as their objects to attain and conquer, while “normal” women can only dream of competing.
Sex has been belittled into experiences to enjoy and then top. Get what you want from a person and then dispose of them for the next rush. It’s marketed to us that way. Sex between one man and one women in the union of marriage is viewed as archaic and naive. We have diminished the bond-strengthening purpose of sex and made it a disposable product. We have a culture that preys on our consumerism and offers us temporary saviors from our emptiness, causing us always to go after the next hit of temporary fulfillment.
I’m tired of this. It’s purposely targeting your kids. I have to ask a few questions: Where do we go from here? and What are we going to do about it?