Deconstructing the Nike Ad
In this ad by Nike, a Latina woman in athletic clothing is standing in profile and her butt is accentuated in the picture. Beside the picture is her talking about her butt in a defiant, empowering way. She has on boxing gloves and she looks like she is looking for some kind of confrontation. On its surface it seems like it is a strong image of a woman doing as she pleases, but it actually is just objectifying a woman by using her as a way to sell shoes, and it portrays her ethnicity as exotic.
Latinas and African American women have often been seen as the ‘other’ when compared to Caucasian women. They are seen as being more sexually aggressive and as having a particular body type. These characteristics make them exotic. That feeling of exotic attraction is exploited in this ad. For someone who does not care what people think about her butt, she spends a lot of time talking about it. The character in the ad describes its shape and uses it as a metaphor, “It’s a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing stores”. Of course, it is doubtful that the woman in the ad also wrote the text, so it was most likely written by men in an advertising agency, designed to give a false sense of empowerment and to mask that it is really just like most ads; a beautiful woman to sell some shoes.
The problem of selling a woman’s ethnicity and stereotype of her body figure is what I intend to jam in my culture jam.
Explanation of the Culture Jam
For my culture jam I first wanted to make sure that it could be called a meme. Memes are successful when they have well-known figures juxtaposed with statements that are out of a character. For this reason, I made a meme that took the statement made in the Nike ad and put a picture of Miss Piggy in it so that people would find it humorous. In culture jamming, it is important to first attract people with something that they would want to share. It might seem gimmicky but just posting a rant about how advertising objectifies women and makes an ethnicity exotic would not get much attention from people.
I expect my alteration to reveal how phony these “empowering” images are because they are not really advancing feminist ideals. These images are just reinforcing stereotypes. In this case it is the Latina woman with a big butt and lots of attitude. She is aggressive, very attractive, and exotic. Some people might argue that the original image is a step in the right direction because it shows a woman speaking out for herself, as opposed to old images of Latinas in traditional wear doing housework or needing protection from a man. However, I do not think this original image is any better because it is a fictional construct of what an acceptable independent woman is supposed to look at. For the same reason, I also put in a fictional character in my altered image, to show that the character is just a piece of fiction being used to sell shoes.