Culture Jam

Original Ad:

This vintage, printed advertisement for deoderant shows a smiling woman’s face, staring into the distance. The first thing you probably notice about the image of the woman is that parts of her face are obstructed with a large “X” that are placed on her hairline and over her eyes and mouth. There is also some text that corresponds with the X’s thay says “Nice hair,” “Nice eyes,“ and “Nice teeth.” Below the image there is aslo text that says “BUT—these charms may be wasted if she uses the WRONG DEODERANT.” The clors in the image are subtle, only using red, a light pink and tan color and gray and black. The focus is completely on the woman’s face, yet most of her face is covered with the large Xs. It is strange that the advertisement is for deoderant and the imagery is of of woman’s face. However, when you read the text, it is obvious that the ad is meant to draw attention to the possible flaws of the woman, which are not on her face, but because she is using the “wrong deoderant” she is wasting her nice face and hair. The ad is clearly playing on women’s insecurities about their attractiveness, drawing attention to the potential for even an attractive and nice looking woman to have bod odour problems. Further the ad is clearly sexist because it completely focuses on how the purpose of looking nice and having the right deoderant is solely for the enjoyment of others (men), and therefore, the woman’s featuers are otherwise wasted. According to this ad, a woman’s value is placed on her “charms” and charms are meant to delight and captivate others, so she is only worth as much as her ability to delight and captivate the attention of others. Essentially, if she is not completely perfect and put together (nice hair, nice eyes, nice teeth and nice smell), then she could not possible be charming. The issue with this ad, therefore, is its sexism and absurd fixation on being nice, looking pleasing and charming, so the culture jammed version of the ad will address these aspects.

Jammed Ad:

The reason why I chose to only slightly alter the advertisement was because I wanted to highlight the absurdity of labeling the parts of the woman’s face and comparing her face to some completely unrelated aspect of her body that might ‘turn off’ others. To do this, I did not want to change the intent of the original ‘message’, which to me was to warn of other unrelated things that might be a problem, despite all of the aspects about the woman that are ‘right’. However, I wanted to ‘problem’ to be something asinine that the audience could not possible connect to the other parts of the text. The original ad was created to draw attention to yet another thing that women must be worried about with their bodies, showing that no matter how well a woman takes care of herself and tries to present herself well, that there is always something she should be concerned about, such as body odour. So many products and brands are marketed to improving women’s (and men’s) appearance and their attractiveness, and one of the most common ways this has been done throughout the history of advertising has been to make people feel inadequate and insecure because there is always some part of the body, the face, hair, etc., that can be made to look nicer and more pleasing. Because the original ad specifically draws attention to the good qualities of the woman, while at the same time putting her down and suggesting that she is displeasing because she might potentially be using the ‘wrong’ deodorant. The ad is also pointing out a standard for what looks “nice”, which is neat, prim, light features (light hair and skin), makeup and docile looking because she is not giving direct eye contact. The “nice” and charming woman is non-threatening and pliant because she is pleasant, does not smell bad. Another sexist component of the ad that I wanted to highlight in the culture jammed version was the use of the phrasing “wasted”, as if a woman does not have any potential outside of her physical body and her attractiveness. In other words, she should be worried that she is offensive and ashamed of her natural body.




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