This year, the coveted commercial time during the (exciting and inspiring) Superbowl was filled with ads that made women, and male viewers, uncomfortable with their implied or overt misogyny. Twitter feeds and blog comments were filled with viewers marvelling at the unceasing, unvaried tone of the ads. While beer ads are traditionally less than friendly to the fairer sex, something about the parade of she-hating spots following the controversial anti-abortion Tim Tebow ad from Focus on the Family — an ad that ended up being “meh” — really ticked people off.
There are too many posts around the Web about this to count, but here are a few that demonstrate the way the night went: Jezebel’s Hortense compiled the first grouping of sexist ads. Gotcha media made a YouTube video putting all the violent acts from the ads together. Irin at Jezebel rounded up the media’s astonished reaction to this parade of sexism (to various degrees).
I’m not sure if the ads this year were worse than previous years. It could be that, as Dina at Jewish feminist blog “From The Rib” notes, the night’s theme was due to the recession, or “Mancession” affecting men’s self esteem. It’s true that the sub-theme of emasculation was everywhere on Sunday night.
I also wonder if people just noticed the sexist ads because of furor surrounding the Tebow spot made them think about gender and sexism more when watching the ads. Jaclyn Friedman at The Nation would argue whether such ads are a natural companion to an inherently sexist football culture.
Regardless of the reasons, I really hope that this collective “sexism fail” and particularly the fact major media outlets are calling out the advertisers may reinvigorate the creativity of those folks pitching ads for sporting events. Perhaps this will encourage ad-men and and ad-women to dump the whole “women, ugh” angle for its lack of originality, if not lack of decency.