Welcome to UBC Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
In the original advertisement, an upper class-looking white woman dressed in a sexually appealing manner holds a glass of a Smirnoff vodka drink, while staring seductively at whoever is viewing the advertisement. An upper class-looking white man appears to be holding the same drink while gazing at her, in obvious consideration of her sexuality. The text reads, “I never even thought of burning my bra until I discovered Smirnoff…” implying that women are incapable of thinking themselves, even including topics like feminism, without being prompted. The text continues, “Anything is possible – when you learn to handle Smirnoff…” as if drinking Smirnoff may actually lead to more feminist thoughts. This ad caters to both men and women; women who aspire to be attractive and feminists (and associate it with bra burning) and men who aspire to engage with attractive women.
There are several things about this advertisement that are problematic; this advertisement is an obvious result of a culture deeply ingrained with capitalism and consumerism. According to writers like Mohanty and Eisenstein, corporate capitalism (perpetuated by large companies like Smirnoff) redefines citizens as consumers; as a result, people are valued for what they can buy, and this notion is reflected in advertisements and other forms of media. This advertisement, like many other advertisements, implies that if a consumer uses the featured product, the consumer will become more like the people depicted in the ad. In this case, Smirnoff wants to communicate that consumers who consume more Smirnoff vodka will become more sexually attractive and appear to be of a higher class.
Chandra Mohanty, along with many other activists, believes “capital as it functions now depends on and exacerbates racist, patriarchal, and heterosexist relations of rule” (Mohanty 510). All of these are clearly present in the advertisement. Both models depicted are white. The intention of the advertisement is focused on how a woman can make herself more sexually attractive to men, reaffirming their submissive roles in a patriarchal society. Consistent with the oppressive nature of capitalism, this ad would never depict non-white people, non-heterosexual people, or non upper class-seeming people.
In the jammed version of the advertisement, the models are depicted exactly the same, but the altered text is intended to be a mockery of the original. The jammed text says, “I never even thought of feminist stereotypes until I discovered a culture of consumerism… Returning to basing a woman’s worth on her looks is possible, by continuing to give your money to companies like Smirnoff.”
I changed “burning my bra” to “feminist stereotypes” because it is precisely that. According to Professer Lisa Wade from Occidental College, bra burning was a myth that began when feminists protested outside of a beauty pageant and threw bras, cosmetics, and high-heeled shoes into trash cans. Even though no fire occurred, the image of women burning bras has long been synonymous with feminism. Instead of focusing on Smirnoff, I broadened the borders of the conversation by changing the focus to “a culture of consumerism,” which is exactly what companies like Smirnoff and patriarchal capitalism hopes that we will continue to engage in. In order to contextualize the conversation, I changed “anything” to “returning to basing a woman’s worth on her looks;” based on the advertisement’s message about consuming Smirnoff to enhance sexuality and reaffirm women’s submission to men. I changed “when you learn to handle Smirnoff” to “by continuing to give your money to companies like Smirnoff,” because the former is essentially a euphemism of the latter.
In conclusion, the jammed text mocks the original advertisement’s attempt to perpetuate capitalism and consumerism, and attempts to deconstruct the racist, patriarchal, and heterosexist relations of rule that capitalism simultaneously relies on and exacerbates.