Thursday, August 4, 2011

Girls Drink Pepsi To Get More Sexy

Some Sexy Pepsi Commercials:

Pepsi spends over $1.3 billion on advertising every year, which has made their brand a ubiquitous household name. Since such a substantial amount of money is being spent on advertising in the competitive beverage industry, it is very important to critically observe how Pepsi tries to reach their audience. Many of Pepsi’s print ads and commercials feature slender, busty women sensually enjoying a refreshing can or bottle flashing the Pepsi logo. The above collage and clips show just a taste of the many scantily dressed women that have been itemized by the Pepsi Company. Although the product is marketed to males and females, there is an overwhelming presence of the female body in their overall advertising strategy. With such colossal opponents as Coca-Cola, it is apparent that Pepsi has turned to the “sex sells” idea, consequently making their merchandise advertisements provocative by utilizing the attractiveness of popular female celebrities and sexy one-dimensional women to reinforce that their product is the best on the market.

As Breazeale points out, “...precisely because consumption has been viewed as an attribute of middle-class femininity, some of our era’s most aggressively one-dimensional representations of women have resulted from attempts to court men as consumers.” (Breazeale 230) With Pepsi, singing and dancing hot pop stars seem to be a reoccurring theme. Although these celebrities might have likeable personalities, Pepsi doesn’t seem concerned with anything but how good they look while holding a bottle of their product, reinforcing hegemonic ideals. The consumer never hears any valuable opinion about the drink from the women they choose to place in their ads. The fact that they are drinking the cola at all is supposed to be enough for the viewer. By placing smiling faces and sexy young bodies in their ads, men are attracted to their product, making men a target audience. Women are already considered the main consumers as Breazeale has demonstrated. But, as a bonus, women also see these beautiful sexy women and want to do whatever it takes to resemble their sexual qualities. It seems to be a win, win situation. Women might be more likely to buy Pepsi over Coke simply because they’d rather be associated with beautiful women than say, an arctic polar bear (a symbol Coca-Cola often uses in ads). Also, men might be more likely to pick up a pack of Pepsi over Coke as they recall the sultry Latin woman on the beach who was sipping the Pepsi during a game’s commercial break.

Jhally states that “advertising absorbs and fuses a variety of symbolic practices and discourses, it appropriates and distills from an unbounded range of cultural references. In so doing, goods are knitted into the fabric of social life and cultural significance.” (Jhally 251) Pepsi provides a perfect example of this as they incorporate celebrities into their product marketing. By having the hottest celebrities of the time endorse their product (and maybe more importantly not their competitor’s), they are able to show their target audience that their product is good enough for the best of us, which is what celebrities are often considered. If a person is watching television or reading magazines where Pepsi ads are strategically placed, viewers are also seeing stories about celebrities and their fabulous lives via these same media outlets. For this reason, it makes sense for the advertising agencies to market to the middle-class viewers with sexy female celebrities they know, love, and envy like Britney, Christina, and Shakira,. Year after year, there are always going to be new hot celebrities to show as Pepsi drinkers, continuing the Pepsi empire. The sometimes unconscious desire to have the social life of celebrities makes viewers particularly vulnerable to any suggestion about how to reach celebrity status, especially if it is the hot young celebrity herself that is showing you which products she uses.

Works Cited


"1005515." iGossip. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"2." Word Press. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"55pepsicola3." AdClassicx. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"britney-spears-may-be-at-the-super-bowl." Haute Living. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"christina-aguileras-pepsi-commercial." Buzznet. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

Google Images. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"Here To Stay - Christina Aguilera Pepsi Commercial." YouTube. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"inna-is-the-new-face-of-pepsi-in-romania." The Prophet Blog. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"kim-kardashians-pepsi-max-ad-photos."anythinghollywood. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"normal_43." GoBritney. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"Pepsi Ad With Shakira." YouTube. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"Pepsi Cindy Crawford." YouTube. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"pepsi_cindy." tvacres. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"sexy-ads." The Smoking Jacket. Web. 4 Aug 2011.

"spears-t-shirt-to-fetch-20000." Glamourvanity. Web. 4 Aug 2011.


Breazeale, Kenon. "In Spite of Women: Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.

Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pretty Pretty Princess Consumers

"Pretty Pretty Princess"

When it comes to easy, cheesy board games for children, ‘Pretty Pretty Princess’ takes the crown (literally). My pretend child is six years old, and Pretty Pretty Princess is marketed to girls like her who enjoy products such as Polly Pockets and baby dolls. If your child has ever told you that she (or he) wants to be a princess, this board game will absolutely not help her in future endeavors to become one. But, what it will do is teach the child playing that being most pretty (or pretty pretty) equals a triumphant win over the others, rewarded by long, vain glimpses in the mirror provided. By introducing such stereotypically feminine games as Pretty Pretty Princess which lack any substantial educational value, but instead teach, reinforce and promote beauty ideals forced upon women in today’s society, at a very early age, young girls are being set up on the fast track to heteronormative, hyper sexualized lives with diluted values.

By collecting the most crappy plastic jewelry and seizing the crown that tops it all off from one of the other players, it is inferred that the little girl named the winner is now ready for her ‘Prince Charming’ to come along. Only once she has obtained all the gaudy jewelry and crown is she dazzling enough to capture the attention of her prince. “Who will shine like a true princess?” asks Hasbro, sounding like an announcer from a dating reality show. Clearly, Hasbro doesn’t take into account that the most likely players of this game are not remotely interested in boys yet, let alone the very heterosexual prize of Prince Charming. Still, the game has endured year after year, successfully being marketed to millions of little girls. The comparisons that women make between themselves and virtually every woman they come in contact with starts out in situations like those presented by this seemingly harmless game.

When Newman states that while, “on their developmental path, children acquire information from a variety of sources—books, television, video games, the Internet, toys, teachers, other children, other children’s parents, strangers they see on the street,” (Newman 107,108) he is only giving a few examples of how information slips into the sponge-like minds of children. Playing such mindless games as Pretty Pretty Princess still leaves its mark on every little girl who was upset she didn’t win the crown and take home the prize of her potential date with Prince Charming.

Only recently has Disney, the prime producer of recognizable princesses, made a film which features a princess of color (The Frog Princess). Even Jasmine just seems a little on the tan side with no ethnicity-based distinguishing characteristics. Pretty Pretty Princess’s box illustrates a white woman with flowing, long reddish-brown hair and soft, beautiful facial features. Her mouth is slightly open in a subtly sexual manor. The way her hands are positioned, one at her neck and one gracefully grasping her dress hem line, demonstrates femininity and dainty mannerisms. In the background is a lush forest and a castle where it is presumed this pretty (pretty) princess resides. Flowers and butterflies adorn the girly font, furthering the fact that this game is for little girls (ages 5+ with a choking hazard warning for children under 3). No where on the box does it say any warning prohibiting use by little boys, but normal social cues like pink colors and jewelry entail that boys aren’t the targeted audience. I can imagine a very heterosexual father or even mother would be quite disturbed to see their son eager to win the crown and jewelry. However, I remember this game to be extremely boring after fifteen minutes at any age, so to do any extensive worrying about a little boy being curious once or twice about this game would most likely be unnecessary. The explicitly and overstated girly nature of this game is puke-worthy, so most little boys are going to be turned off to anything having to do with it. However, the few little boys who are genuinely interested might be exhibiting non-normative behavior for the first time. Everything about our society tells us that little boys shouldn’t want to play with dolls or play dress up, but it does happen, usually causing parents to be distraught.

Newman also states that, “we create, re-create, confirm, or change our social identities every time our actions, appearances, thoughts, perceptions, and values are taken as reflective of or in contrast to what others expect of us,” (Newman 108) pointing out yet again that gender is a social construct. Every little girl that plays with such clearly feminine toys and acts according to the female gender norm is solidifying her place within heteronormative society. Every little boy who picks up a girl’s toy and shows interest is contrasting what others expect of him and perhaps hinting that he will be part of a social identity that will differ from the norm. Either way, such universally gendered games perhaps give the child and parent a glimpse into the future.

Pretty Pretty Princess is sold for around $14, making it very affordable. If a family has money to spend on toys, this price seems to be fairly reasonable. Socioeconomic class doesn’t prove to be an issue with the marketing of this product because, after all, “every little girl wants to be a princess” regardless of how much money her family makes. Because it is such a popular product, it can be found at virtually every store that sells game boards and toys for children. Families in all areas have access to this product and the message it brings into homes. In lower socioeconomic areas, however, this game might even be given to little girls who can not receive fine jewelry, furthering the value of the game to these girls in particular.

Even though the woman on the cover of the game is white, it has only been recently that princesses of color have been made mainstream. The ages of the little girls who would be interested in this product tell us that they might not be as concerned with the fact that the woman doesn’t look like they look. Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle are all as white as they can get, yet girls of all color watch the movies and buy their princess products. Girls just see the status of “princess” and know that this is what they want to embody some day. The little girl princess fantasies start as soon as Disney movies are shown in the house and fairy tales are read before bed. Any little girl that plays dress up will want to complete her wardrobe with the jewels that this game provides. In fact, that was one of the complaints of parents who have reviewed this game. They are often frustrated that pieces go missing because their daughter wants to wear the jewelry every day.

Giroux states plainly that, “as market culture permeates the social order, it threatens to diminish the tension between market values and democratic values, such as … respect for children.” (Giroux 174) Because games like this one are available regardless of socioeconomic status, and the stereotypical message of beauty is so universal (at least in our country), this is a catastrophic pairing. Parents who don’t know any better than to go along with damaging social norms are only perpetuating them by buying such inexpensive and pleasing games and toys. They know that every little girl wishes to become a pretty princess, so they understand this product as a simple and silly way to satisfy their child. Yet, from an analytical standpoint, it is clear that it is so much more than that.

The stereotypical princess persona is clearly what the company had in mind when it was creating this product. If, say, Princess Dianna was the role model, none of the extravagant pieces of jewelry would have ever made it into the box, and the most giving ‘princess’ would win the game. This, however, is hardly the case. To make progress in the game, the child spins a spinner and lands on a piece of jewelry that he or she can now claim from the pile. Once the child gets every type of jewelry (ring, bracelet, etc.) and then lands on the crown, the game is won. Yes, sheer luck is all that it takes to win this game. There seems to be zero educational value. If anything, the message is that the prettiest, most vain child who steals the crown from a friend is the winner of the day. The only reinforcing princess-like characteristic to this game happens to be the stereotypical spoiled, bratty princess type. This is probably not what most parents sign up for when they purchase this game for their ‘little princesses.’

The values that this game instills are extremely gendered. The most stereotypical statement that can be made about women is that the prettier one is, the more value she holds. The message of this game is to become not only a pretty princess, but a pretty PRETTY princess. I don’t know how much more blatant the emphasis on attractiveness can be in the case of this game. Literally all the child has to do is spin a spinner and collect material assets that will enhance her beauty to gain leaps and bounds over her girlfriends. From the beautiful white woman on the box cover, to the adding of accessories, little girls are expected to want to heighten their appeal for their Prince Charming who is guaranteed to come someday (if all the proper primping steps are taken). Pretty Pretty Princess sums up the struggles that every little girl will have to suffer through all of her life due to social pressures to be attractive. The scenario of looking over at her friend sitting next to her wondering if she is prettier or if she will catch the attention of Prince Charming before her, is something that will most likely resonate with her for her whole life.

When you look at the toys marketed to young girls and boys, the gender separation is clear. Because it is so clear and such a basic concept (to the average person), it is taken as normal and is usually not contested. But as you take a step back and see what each gender derived product (such as Pretty Pretty Princess) is promoting, you will notice exactly what messages are being instilled in the youth in an unchallenged manor. Every parent could do well to recognize the deeper impression some products leave on their precious little princes and princesses.

Works Cited:

Giroux, Henry A.. "Kids for Sale." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.

Newman, David. “Learning Difference: Families, Schools and Socialization.” Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, & Sexuality. Higher Education, n.d. 91.

"Pretty Pretty Princess." Funagain Games. Web. 27 Jul 2011. <>.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pretty Little Lesbian: Emily's Character

Pretty Little Liars is the Desperate Housewives for teenage girls. It airs on ABC Family, which is a station that prides itself on stating that it is “A New Kind of Family” on every commercial in which it advertises its series. In the same way women have tuned in to watch the sexy, dramatic and diverse characters of Desperate Housewives, now, young girls have an opportunity to suck in some drama by watching what has been described as a more “teen appropriate” version of the hit show. It seems as though even younger girls than anticipated find interest in this series because the majority of viewers range from elementary school to college age.

The show is based on the creepy concept that a group of very attractive high school girls is being stalked by a dead friend’s ghost. It’s not exactly clear how this happens, but that issue seems to be placed on the back burner. It becomes clear by the end of the first season that no real answer will ever be addressed. Luck for the viewers, there are many more issues that need to be tackled by the characters. A majority of the episodes are about the spooky things that a person named “A” (which they all believe to stand for their dead friend Alison) does to show her beautiful, alive friends that she knows they are responsible for her death (in one way or another). However, one character in particular has been the centerpiece for many episodes. Emily Fields is a character who struggles with the self-realization that she is a lesbian. Because Emily is extremely relatable as the shy girl next door, but also has a very subtle sexy edge to her, it makes her the perfect character to positively introduce the idea of lesbianism to a younger demographic than has been previously done before. It was the intention of her character’s creators to open up this alternative sexual identity to young viewers in a very subtle, mild way that, say, The Secret Life of the American Teenager (another successful ABC series) was unable to touch.

Hegemony is defined as “the power or dominance that one social group holds over others.” (Lull, 61) In today’s world, although there have been leaps and bounds in the positive direction for the “queer” community, there has yet to be much introduced to the younger generation. Shows like Will and Grace are obviously shows that are geared toward a more mature audience.

It is clear that straight is still the dominant lifestyle. Pretty Little Liars is marketed to girls of ages that are just coming to terms with their own sexual identities. To some extent, this is exactly why having a show with a lesbian character is so impacting.

“Hegemony implies a willing agreement by people to be governed by principles, rules, and laws they believe operate in their best interests... Social consent can be a more effective means of control than coercion or force.” (Lull, 63) What better way to ensure that a lifelong message about lesbianism is being reinforced than to weave it into a series marketed to young girls? The popularity of the show speaks for itself. Girls voluntarily tune in every week to see the next juicy episode. The ideals that the show reinforces are transferred into the minds of even the most passive viewer. The show’s writers can easily place positive light on lesbians, counteracting and confronting hegemonic ideals, by building up a character so likable that no viewer could begin to disregard her simply because one aspect of her life is controversial. This is a very powerful tool that the media possesses. For sure, this tool is used when Emily finds her star-crossed lover in season 1 episode 13.

In my opinion, Emily is the most attractive character. She is obviously ethnic, but we do not know what her origin of race is. She could pass as a mix of white, Spanish, Native American, or Asian, in fact. I think that this is a large part of her appeal as a character. She is caring, resourceful, and gorgeous without even trying. She is the most effortless character by far. Without a doubt, there must be many young girls watching her character, praying that they look and act like her when they get to be Emily’s character’s age. All this is indisputably true without even knowing what her character’s nationality even is. In most cases with shows that are supposed to depict reality is some way shape or form, “women of color are tokenized” (Pozner, 98), but with Emily, her ethnicity is used as an unorthodox tool of media. Her character continues to be a main element of the show, yet she is the only ethic one. With the other main characters, it’s quite obvious that they are all very white, typical American girls. Sure, they’ve well above average in looks, but at the same time, they’re boring. Emily seems to have the most casual style, the most laid-back personality and overall seems like the least prissy of their blatantly stereotypical “girly” group of friends. This character build up makes for a universal liking of Emily. It’s not until halfway through the season, when (most) of the audience members have built up a “plutonic love” for her character that we are sideswiped by the idea that she is actually a lesbian.

In episode thirteen of the first season, Emily is dealing with her mother’s reaction to her “coming out.” The look in Emily’s mother’s eyes whenever Emily is around her girlfriend Maya is enough to tell the audience she is in complete disapproval. At one point in the episode after her mother is informed of her daughter being a lesbian, Emily’s mother peeks into Emily’s room to see hers and Maya’s feet intertwined as they giggle on her bed. Emily’s mother bursts into the room, expecting to catch her daughter in a romantic lesbian moment, but is only slightly relieved to see that they are innocently looking at a book and laughing. When Maya tries to comfort Emily’s mother and tell her that nothing was going on besides studding, Emily’s mother disregards her sentiment and instead asks her to call her by “Mrs. Fields” in a very rude way. After Maya feels awkward and leaves, Emily says to her mother that she, for the first time in her life, is ashamed that she is her mother. It is interesting because it is quite obvious that her mother is very ashamed of her daughter simply because of her lack of conformity to a hegemonic society that places straight culture as the dominant one. It is clear that they are both upset with each other, but Emily actually has a reason to be ashamed of her mother’s rude behavior.

This scene shows that Emily’s mother is skeptical about the whole “lesbian” idea. In this moment, she is probably overpowered by the thought of the pornographic aspect of lesbians portrayed by media, instead of realizing the fact that lesbians, like straight couples, aren’t always thinking about sex or having sex; they actually have the ability to enjoy each other’s company.

Emily’s mother represents the audience that is still unconvinced that lesbians and gays “are who they are” at birth. In another scene, Emily’s mother goes through Maya’s bag that was left at their house. In the bag, she finds an Altoid case filled with weed. Immediately, she sees this as an excuse for her daughter’s “behavior” recently with Maya. She goes into Emily’s room to confront her, and she accuses Emily of doing drugs with Maya. “Is this what this has been about?” She says. “Are you stoned?” The more analytical members of the audience can infer that Emily’s mother is almost imploring her daughter to say yes. She is thinking that maybe the drugs were playing a factor in her daughter’s new found sexual identity. We can see in her face that she is thinking about the fact that drug addictions can be corrected while the other reason for Emily hanging around Maya might not be so easily “fixed.” Her daughter being a lesbian is a very scary concept to Emily’s mother, and as a mother, she tries to protect her daughter from something she deems unacceptable. In order to prevent Maya and Emily’s relationship from furthering, Emily’s mother is a key factor in getting Maya sent to Juvi for three months. This reinforces hegemony because it seems as though Maya and Emily are being punished to the extreme for having an unconventional relationship.

Because the young viewers have invested so much in following Emily’s story, they are outraged that her mother could do such a thing. All of the other girl friends in their tight group are all smiles when Emily tells them about her true identity. They couldn’t be happier that she is finally happy with Maya. This group of girls is who the young viewers clearly identify with and emulate as they watch the show. The complete acceptance by Emily’s friends, along with the attractiveness and demure attitude that Emily’s character portrays, reinforces the message to all the viewers that it’s okay to love whoever you want.

Emily’s friends even arrange for Maya and her to have one last meeting before they are to be separated for three months. Their romantic relationship is made completely clear when Emily walks upstairs to the room where Maya was waiting, a meeting that Emily’s friends set up as a surprise for her after Emily had thought Maya was already on her way to Juvi. The room was filled with soft candle light and music. The two held each other close and rocked side to side standing in the middle of the room (this is, of course, supposed to be a family show). As this was all happening, Emily’s friends stand in the living room as the camera cuts to each and every one of their beaming faces. One girl actually says, “I’m officially jealous of Emily’s love life.” This line seals the deal. Hegemony is officially confronted by this statement. A “straight” conventional, beautiful young girl announces that she is jealous of her friend’s unconventional, but real, lifestyle.

Towards the end of the episode, Emily and Maya share one last innocent kiss before Maya must leave and head to Juvi. The music becomes treacherous as the audience gets a view of Maya and Emily from the viewpoint of someone watching through the window. It is very obvious that someone is watching this intimate moment, and we see that there is a camera involved. Because no one but Emily’s close friends and family know about her and Maya, we know that nothing good can come from a stranger peering into the window and snapping pictures of their last kiss. The stranger watches them like they are something to be reveled at and yet tries to exploit them, showing the disdain, yet infatuation the hegemonic society has with people who are not part of the “norm.”

The previews for the next episode show us a glimpse of the struggles that Emily is about to face because of the pictures of her and Maya kissing getting out to the rest of the school. There, it is obvious that most people aren’t as accepting as her close group of friends. The classic “coming out” to those who see her lifestyle as alternative seems like it will present Emily with issues.

In the rest of the season, Emily persists with her head high, self dignity in tact as she continues on with her life without Maya. She even finds another girl who she is interested in. This normalization of lesbianism is exactly what Emily’s character was intended to portray to young girls who are old enough to understand, and for the rest of the viewers, she is just another pretty face mixed up in drama like every other girl on T.V. Hopefully for those girls who are struggling with their own identities and can relate, Emily's character can continue to give hope. She continues to be a good model for what her character was intended.

Referenc List:

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.

Pozner, Jennifer L. ""The Unreal World"" Ms. Magazine Fall 2004: 96-99. Web.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Link Hunt :)

Dr. Drew Pinsky's New Focus: Famewhoring vs Helping

July 6, 2011

Brad Laidman

The Morton Report

How the Casey Anthony case came to expose the trauma of living in modern day America

Jul 6th, 2011


Scallywag And Vagabond

Women as partners in crime dramas

(2 months ago)

David Myers


Marriage, evolving

July 6th, 2011

Al Roth


The Secret Life of The American Teenager

June 4, 2011