Target Advertisement: Dating for Consumers

Target Advertisement

This Target ad depicts a heterosexual couple on a date. (Of course. According to the advertising world, queer people don't date. Or purchase things. Or go places. Possibly we don't even exist [even conventionally attractive women engaging in vaguely sexual contact with one another are played for straight- there's always a dude wearing Manly Body Spray or Deodorant or drinking Manly Beer involved.] But I digress.)

So, John and Jane are on a date. John purchases Jane a fancy-looking necklace and Jane says she didn't think they were "there yet," after which John clarifies that he didn't actually spend THAT much, and everything is okay. And by "okay" I mean incredibly awkward.

Women apparently need to be cajoled into serious relationship territory with men (which I assume we are meant to believe is sex, in this context) with very fancy, costly gifts. Dating as a capitalist venture! This is really brought home by the awkwardness that ensues for both parties after John admits he has not spent that much on the necklace. Frankly, I don't think this paints a very sympathetic portrait of men or women.


Haiti Relief Advertisement: Women and Children First

Haiti Relief Advertisement

In this thirty-second advertisement for a Haitii Relief fund, nearly all of the victims we see are women and children. All of the people who appear to be rescuers are young men.

I tried to go through the ad frame by frame to get an accurate count of the people portrayed. We see:

A man lifting an injured child
An injured child
Two men lifting an injured elderly man
An injured child
A man carrying a baby
A woman clasping an injured child
An injured child
An injured woman and injured child
A crying woman

Plenty of men were impacted by the Haiti disaster, but you'd never know it to look at this advertisement; the only male victim we see is elderly. This overrepresentation of women and children in roles of victimhood is nothing new (see this article for an in-depth analysis of this phenomenon); the second-class status of women and children is routinely exploited for effect in advertisements aimed at garnering sympathy. This ad is well-intentioned, but linking femininity with victimhood is damaging to both men and women.



Welcome to Nearly Bare Junkyard. This blog is a service learning project I am working on for a class I am currently taking (Social Problems). Herein I plan to cull images from advertising/the media and examine the messages they contain regarding gender. For the curious, the title of this blog comes from a line from Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin: "The person with imagination is pushed forward by it into a world of possibility and risk, a distinct world of meaning and choice; not into a nearly bare junkyard of symbols manipulated to evoke rote responses." I think the nearly bare junkyard of symbols which comprises popular culture can be harmful to all people, in that it offers no representation of the true spectrum of human diversity. Social constructs like gender and race appear to be genetic edicts under its influence. I aim to view these messages with a critical eye, and encourage others to do the same.