With the Winter Olympics in full swing, you may have noticed there’s a lot of competition for your attention as well. In between the slaloms and the triple axels, there’s also the slightly shameful attraction of (dare I say it) the advertisements. Take this awesome one from AT&T featuring silver medal-winning snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler:
What struck me was how the tone of this ad differed sharply from the advertisements I watched a couple weeks ago between plays of the Super Bowl. In contrast to Bleiler’s cosmic athleticism, several of the Super Bowl ads depicted emasculated men reclaiming their masculinity in hyper-macho, if not misogynistic, ways. Like this one, for example:
Apparently, that put enough bees in enough bonnets to inspire this retaliatory spoof:
This sort of tit-for-tat is amusing, but something else leaves me unsettled: the retort has women lashing out not just against the advertiser, but against men in general. To me, what starts (in both videos) as a playful battle of the sexes, ends up revealing something vicious and truly disconcerting. This isn’t just about advertisers routinely preying on our insecurities, it’s about stoking fires that lead to discrimination and leave both sides burned.
And even though I may not run out to buy a shiny new AT&T cell phone after seeing Gretchen Bleiler swoop up that half-pipe into outer space, at least the message is true to the real spirit of sport: “Here’s to possibilities.”
– Erin Calabria