Like Never Before…. And That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing

Occasionally there are things that I see on television, and it takes me a while to figure out exactly what it is about it that I find disturbing in some way. This  Nair commercial is one of those things.

So what is it exactly that I find troubling here? I’ve been kicking this around for over a week, uncertain of how exactly to proceed but unable to delete the bookmark. You could start with the fact that the women in the older commercial appear to be happy, and while thin do have a bit of body mass to them; whereas the dancers in the newer version are being overtly sexualized in a way that’s rather reminiscent of The Pussycat Dolls, and are being objectified far more than the former group. After you’ve seen it a few times, you’ll notice that the women in the ’70s version spend most of their time in a full or 3/4 length shot facing the camera, but the ’00s version spends most of its camera time on various body parts divorced from the dancers’ identities or in long shots with their faces completely out of focus.

Then I noticed this in the information in the sidebar:

A new commercial campaign, “Like Never Before,” developed by New York based The Joey Company, pays homage to the “Short Shorts,” and features a giant new “girl power” production number

Ah, it’s yet another piece of media that’s trying to sell me on the idea that being objectified while wearing a small amount of clothing counts as “girl power” just because they say it does. I knew it seemed familiar, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. They can keep saying it all they like, but I’m still never going to believe it until they start filming these things in a way that doesn’t visually contradict everything they’ve said.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    Ah, it’s yet another piece of media that’s trying to sell me on the idea that being objectified while wearing a small amount of clothing counts as “girl power” just because they say it does.

    Yeah, and where that claim always falls short for me is: if there was any power at all to be derived from this, do you not think men would be doing it? Men, leaving an opportunity for power untouched? That’s not how to rule the world.

    No, the power is with the people objectifying the women, and with the people enjoying the objectification.

    And Nair is completely useless on me. Might take my skin off, but not my hair. Shit product; shit advertising philosophy. We’ve noted that connection before.

  2. MaggieCat says

    I never had any problems with the product back when I used it, and I have freakishly sensitive skin that requires me to buy dye free/fragrance free laundry detergent, so I wouldn’t draw that connection.

    The more I think about it, the more it is the visual disparity that really strikes me as wrong. They’re trying to pass it off as girl power while treating the subjects as objects. What makes it even more pathetic is that they had the old commercial, which is fairly good in that respect right in front of them and they still managed to screw it up. Makes me fear that there is no longer a way to get through to the people responsible.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    There’s a larger issue for me here, and that’s the fact that it’s considered not just ugly but rude and hostile to the world at large if a woman doesn’t shave her legs and pits. This is a vast industry that didn’t exist until 60 years ago when Gillette realized, “Hey, why just settle for men shaving their faces when we can expand our market to women?” The whole concept of required leg hair removal IS an exploitation of women, and coming at it from that perspective it would be hard for one to be fooled into thinking the commercial is any different.

    That said, yeah, it is frightening. It’s like, “Back then, we were exploiting women. Now doing the exact same thing is empowering!” The whole Grrl Power movement, IMO, has been an Orwellian attempt to redefine porn and raunch and exploitation as Good For Girls! (I’m not for the moment getting into the potential of any of it to be good for women – I’m saying the claim is being used as a marketing ploy.)

    Like you said, they’re just telling us to take their word it’s different now. Unfortunately, in a society that is fueled by exploitation (not just women, but sweatshop labor, etc.), I’m pretty sure the people at the top are going to keep sending us confusing messages so we’ll keep arguing amongst ourselves.

    (Nair and products like it work okay on women who have hair that’s easy to remove anyway. Women like me who have tough and visible hair are screwed – none of the products help and even a shave doesn’t yield very good results for me. I bitch about this at pretty much every opportunity because it’s an example of something where, because most feminists aren’t deeply affected, they orphan the concern which IMO should be right up there with “Stop telling us we should look like underdeveloped teenage boys with giant breasts”.)

  4. sbg says

    Ah, it’s yet another piece of media that’s trying to sell me on the idea that being objectified while wearing a small amount of clothing counts as “girl power” just because they say it does. I knew it seemed familiar, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. They can keep saying it all they like, but I’m still never going to believe it until they start filming these things in a way that doesn’t visually contradict everything they’ve said

    What do you mean? I totally feel empowered to wear highly revealing clothing and shimmy around sexily after watching this! /sarcasm

    I’m telling you, there’s a whole generation out there that is not going to even know the actual definition of empower.

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