August 18, 2004

Striking a Blow for the Chicks, Man.

I don't know why I keep writing about ads. I'll try and have more interesting thoughts.

So those new Nike ads --- they "you're faster than you think" ones? They're not bad. RTE2, the channel with the Olympics, has been playing them to death. It's sad really --- almost like when for some freakish reason you find yourself watching "The Outdoor Network" or some other waystation in the cable hinterland, and you realize they only ever play three commericals. Miracle Pasta Pot (With the Holes! In the Lid!), Sam Waterson Employs His Gravitas to Sell You Life Insurance, and Patent Your Million Dollar Invention, You Sad, Sad Little Man (or risk becoming an even sadder little man, as depicted by the Glum Snapper, sitting on his couch snapping his fingers and glowering about those chisling Clapper people and their fancy pants lawyers while his table lamp goes on and off in the background. Snap. On. Snap. Off. "It could have been me!") RTE2's kinda like that, at least with their Olympics coverage, although their advertizers are slightly less marginal --- Nike, Nutrigrain, and Champion Sports.

So they keep showing these Nike ads, which are pretty entertining. For some reason I keep revolving the tennis one around in my head. I assume y'all have seen it; Nike ads are like unto the rays of the sun --- HQ busts out with a new one every 8 minutes, and in 24 hours they've covered the globe --- but if perchance you metaphorically live under a rock, the tennis one features a bunch of pre-teen (are they officially tweens now? that sounds like something awful to call someone, like "twerp", but then the span of years between 11 and 14 are indeed awful) girls huddling around a locker room window, on the lookout for the arrival of their scorchingly hot tennis instructor. They bust out of the locker room in a wave that crashes at his feet, then proceed to stare at him moon-eyed and giggle as he gives them instrcutions. Then they line up for drills, stealing sly glances at him out of the corners of their eyes as they move to serve or return, and each girl, as she enters into motion...suddenly transforms into Serena Williams, lunging and grunting with a ferocity awesome to behold, until finally someone gets a little overenthused and send a fuzzy yellow missle thumping into the instructor's immaculate coif, knocking him on his ass. Blushing instructor stands up as the girls stand awkwardly simpering, and up comes the tagline, "You're Faster Than You Think."

It's a cute ad. (It's got especially cute background music.) But what I keep thinking about is whether it says good or bad things about feminism and girl power and such in 2004. Because on the one hand, the young girls imagine themselves as fierce, powerful, and athletic, all of which things Serena Williams undoubtably is. This is a lot better than them imagining themselves to be limp-wristed, uncoordinated butterfingers in order to entice Tall Blondie to encircle their hips and show them that forehand-thingie one more time. And they imagine that this will be impressive to their instructor --- that fierceness, power, and athleticism will appeal to him, rather then vulnerability and weakness bringing out his protectve instincts. And yet. All this effort is still directed not at being good at tennis as such but at impressing the instructor, or more importantly, at attacting male attention. Not trying to be good at tennis because you want to be good at tennis but because guys think jock chicks are hot. On the one hand, I feel that that's kid of fucked up. On the other hand, the tweens of my acquaintence (and the tween I was) do in fact simper and preen and try to impresses cute boys (and the tennis instructor was, I must repeat, scorching.) So I can't really get huffy at Nike for depicting teen girls acting pretty much how they actually act, huh? Still, it bugs. The only unmitigated good I take from it is that 41 years after the Feminine Mystique guys are now encouraged to think jock chicks are hot. (Especially those beach volleyballer players, eh, fellas? I saw the ads for Xtreme Beach Volleyball Spike TV was running a while back.)

It's sort of related to the whole Chickickass phenomenon in movies and TV (From Xena through Buffy to Kill Bill.) Maybe I'll write something more about that someday, when I have my thoughts together.

Posted by Diablevert at August 18, 2004 04:08 PM | TrackBack

Telemundo has GREAT Olympics coverage. I saw PR beat Angola in basketball by 2 points yesterday. Sigh. They also had Brazil v Cuba in women's beach volleyball, and let me tell you- least attractive Brazilian women...ever.

Posted by: Delta at August 20, 2004 07:05 PM

only prob with the chikickass phenom is most all these characters are from the "minds" of men. heh

Posted by: boomzilla at August 24, 2004 10:51 PM

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