Want to see where stereotypes go unchallenged?
Where sexism, misandry, and misogyny go unchecked?
Where fat-shaming and body issues go hand in hand?
Where you can give your racism a veneer that most rights groups don’t really bother to confront, at least most of the time?
Then go watch a commercial.
When you do, take note of these factors:
- Commercials for household cleaning products OR cleaning appliances, like vacuum cleaners, mops, and brooms, will not be handled or demonstrated by men. Only when product or service is on an industrial scale or for contractor/professional use will you see men using the item.
- Commercials for food will not feature men in the kitchen UNLESS it is a restaurant or other professional kitchen. Men will not cook unless they are identifiable as a professional chef.
- Women will not be shown working on cars at any time. Conversely, men will not be shown driving a minivan filled with kids going to school.
- Commercials for chocolate will not feature men eating and enjoying it. Also, expect that chocolate will be depicted as a substitute for some pleasurable (female-driven) activity.
- If a man is featured in a commercial about a cleaning item (like a dish detergent or paper towel), expect him to be complicit in making the mess to be cleaned up (by the woman). These odds double if children are present.
- Commercials featuring families will often have a teenaged girl and boy of less than 10. The girl will either be shown texting on the phone or talking on the phone about gossip. The boy will be playing video games or running around the house.
- Commercials for “Manly” vehicles (like large SUVs and Pickup Trucks) will not feature women behind the wheel, nor will they be shown as part of the “manly” ambiance.
- Commercials for weight-loss products and services will not feature men. As part-and-parcel to fat-shaming AND gender body-shape reinforcement, these ads feature women front-and-center. If the commercial is for a fitness center, you may see some muscular (but not too muscular) men, but the ad will focus on the women with “bikini bodies.”
- Some commercials feature men that are “afraid” of their significant others (wives or girlfriends – they are never other men). In the end, the humor is often shrill and sexist – and unsurprisingly, not very funny.
- The targeted demographic determines the background music used in the commercial. If you hear an R&B or “Hip-Hop” rhythm in the background, you are to rightfully assume that the “Urban” (read: Black) demographic is being targeted here. If the music is Crossover Pop or anything with an Electric Guitar riff, it is for the Younger Suburban (read: White & Well-Off) Family. Music is played to stereotypes in droves.
Moral of the story?
Think of your favorite show. Count how many commercials you watch during that show. Multiply that 6 (the average number of hours spent watching TV per day).
Multiply that by 365.25.
Some studies suggest that we watch more than 20,000 commercials (or more) per year.
Now, look over that above list again.
Understand that these (and other) racial, sexual, and gender stereotypes, as well as its narrow conformity, are constantly bombarding us; so much so that the stereotypes that people complain about in TV happen in commercials more consistently than in TV shows or movies. But it is only when the content is blatantly outrageous (like GoDaddy.com’s Super Bowl ads or Pepsi MAX’s Angry Black Woman spot) do people take notice.
But until this is addressed and confronted head-on, all of the positive showcasing on TV shows and in movies you can muster will be for naught.