Wow. I guess I’ve noticed that ads don’t really speak to me
as a single woman… but I always assumed the problem was me. After all, I probably should
be married with kids by now, buying Bounty by the bulk and cleaning up my kid’s spilled juice. Guess I’m on the fringe.
Apparently not. Just read this neat article on the
Marketplace site, which states that 44% of all women over 18 are single. But
advertising for things other than fashion-related products, feminine hygiene
products, and, um kitty litter rarely target us. I wonder why?
Truth is, 9 times out of 10 advertisers are tasked with
presenting an “ideal” – and when it comes to women, this ideal is either a sexy
woman that all men crave or a happy mom carting around 1,000 kids. The general
consensus, so it seems, is that being a single woman is a sad, sad predicament
(course, being a single guy RULES – you get to hang with the bros and hit on
chicks in your beer closet and all). The horror of being a single woman can be
remedied by, well, A) turning yourself into a sexy woman that all men crave,
or B) showing off your great housewife potential. That’s where advertising
comes in. See how that works? (Skip to about 4:30 in this clip to watch Don wax
poetic on the subject to Peggy).
This is all to say, being a single woman is not “ideal” in
this country, mirrored by the ad world. Which is too bad, really, because there’s
such opportunity here. Imagine all the awesome ads single-lady copywriters like
me could come up with. Hopefully we’ll get our shot at it soon enough.
I caught Dave Chappelle's 2007 stand-up act Killing Them Softly on Comedy Central over the weekend. For all the feigned LOLs in this world, it's seldom that you actually "laugh out loud" - especially when you're alone. But this part did it for me.
This TV spot irks the hell out of me. Perhaps because it cuts in during virtually every show I watch - from MLB playoff games to America's Next Top Model marathons. Perhaps because borrowed interest always turns out phony and lazy.
Or, perhaps, my distaste has something to do with the King Kong mockery itself.
By now, we should all get that the original King Kong film portrayed a <racist> metaphor for race relations in the U.S:
King Kong is all happy being the ruler of a weird, backwards island in the middle of nowhere. He's "discovered" by some White explorers, who basically kidnap him and bring him to the civilized world in chains and shackles. When King Kong escapes, he's murdered. But before he dies, he falls in love with a beautiful blond, and they have some sort of relationship. Which seems silly to viewers - after all, how could a proper woman possibly spend time with an uncivilized giant ape?
Now go through this synopsis and replace all references to "King Kong" with "The African man", and you should get the symbolism.
But apparently, this obvious allegory was totally lost on the marketing folks at DirectTV. The spot, in which a poor man's Naomi Watts jabs at King Kong for not being "evolved" and for "staring at her 24-7", plays up all the controversial racist undertones that the original film portrays. These insults on Kong strike me as gratuitous, and, given the history of the King Kong story, written in utter bad taste. Am I missing some crucial bit of info that makes this spot worthwhile? Somehow I doubt it.
You won’t believe it… A friend of mine actually scored tickets to Oprah.
Wednesday morning, we found ourselves dressed to the nines, in a cab whizzing (literally, the cabbie was going about 55 on city roads) to Harpo Studios for a 7am Oprah Show taping.
Sadly, I’m somewhat limited in what I can reveal about the show itself. But I will say this: Oprah seemed, well, a little odd. It hit me almost immediately, when she was announced out and meandered onto set in a total daze.
I thought she was trying to make a statement; something along the lines of “Black women are beautiful head-to-toe no matter what.” But no. She honestly didn’t know what the hell was going on. When she sat down, she ran through scripts for about 10 minutes while someone put on her shoes for her and someone else sprayed her hair. We all sat in an awkward silence, half smiling, half cringing. Excited, but also... confused.
The beginning was weird, but the actual show was a total trip. I kept having David At The Dentist moments, thinking to myself, "Is this real life?" And the guest rocked. So if you find yourself home sick on September 30th (or know how to work your DVR), tune in. I sat in the front row, so you may see me. Look for the orange scarf and mohawk-y fro.
Oh, Joan Holloway. Clearly everyone’s attracted to you. Even straight women. Even me. And I think I’ve discovered the reason why. You are the character who shaped my youth. The one whose super-slitted red dress I’d always try to find for my dress-up bin. The one whose pursing lips and smoky voice I’d impersonate with my friends. The one whose sashaying, high-heeled walk I’d imitate down the halls of my apartment. You are Jessica Rabbit.
Obviously, Who Framed Roger Rabbit'sJessica Rabbit oozed sex. But not in a vapid, Playboy Bunny sort of way. There was always something more to her. Something captivating and calculating and titillating and tragic all at the same time. Let’s look at some of those Jessica/Joan similarities that push the characters into the realm of the untouchable ultra-babe.
The know-how. From the real world to Toon Town, Jessica Rabbit could play the game better than anyone else. She held all the keys, she knew all the answers—effectively, Jessica was the center of the action… all masked in a sly side-smirk and a sleepy gaze. Similarly, Joan rules Sterling Cooper. Without her, the whole operation would fall apart. And even when she's tasked to help out in the T.V. department, she's, as Boston.com points out, a natural. And not because she's playing by the "male" rules. But rather, because she creates her own.
The vamp red. It takes a lot of chutzpa to full-on rock out with your red out, because peeps LOVE to hate on redheads. There's even a term for it: Gingerism. How do Joan and Jessica respond to this? Red hair. Red lipstick. Red dress. Red shoes. Red cheeks. Red, red, red.In your face haters!
The dudes. What do I love most about these two? They don’t swoon for the typical hearththrobs. Joan behind-the-scenes dated a few of the Sterling Cooper guys, but she’s never so much as winked at hunk-of-the-office Don Draper. And as for Jessica… well she baked carrot cakes for hubby Roger Rabbit. ‘Nuff said.
I've been covering the politics beat over at AOL's Lemondrop for a couple weeks now, writing a column called Cocktail Party Politics. It's basically a fun way of discussing a current political issue... I give a short recap, then offer up talking points according to your stance.
And, of course, what political debate would be complete without a complementary drink tip?
Today's post covered last night's presidential debate.I think my take on the debate shines through my apparent "unbiased" stance. This week's drink? "That One": No real recipe, just involves pointing to whatever the guy next to you
is drinking and saying, "I'll have whatever 'that one' is having."
Last night she appeared on Leno to talk politics and just straight up BROKE. IT. DOWN. I especially enjoyed her description of the Republican National Convention - "it was like watching a meeting in Doctor Evil's lair." My thoughts exactly.
Don’t believe Tony! Toni! Tone! for a second. It definitely rains in Southern California. And it was on one
particularly flood-watered January day that my BF and I found ourselves on the CBS lot for a Price is Right taping. Because really, what else is there to do in LA when the sun's hiding?
After waiting around for a couple hours with some insane Price is Right fans (you know, those weird matching T-shirt peeps, or worse yet, the older people with “I Love Bob Barker” face-painted to their cheeks), we finally got lined up to enter the studio. On the way in, a few producers took groups of 20 for quick interviews.
I basically acted like a lunatic during that interview. Somehow, I knew that would get me called down.
And then the luck just kept rollin’ my way. Which I found infinitely hilarious.
Most random showcase EVER. Seriously... a saxophone? What would you have bid on all this?
Grand finale, complete with Grandmommy shout out. She watched the show every day of her adult life.
And there you have it. Feel free to make fun… I know I looked psychotic. Happy Friday!
McCain’s icky Education ad prompted me to dig a little deeper and find out the sex ed legislation that Obama actually supported. Here’s what I found, from McClatchy’s fact check:
As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12. But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.
Republican Alan Keyes tried to use Obama's vote against him in the 2004 U.S. Senate race. At the time, Obama spoke about wanting to protect young children from abuse. He made clear then that he was not supporting teaching kindergartners about explicit details of sex.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Tuesday of McCain's ad: "It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls."
So I’d like to say thank you to McCain, for helping me to learn a bit more about my candidate.
But all jokes aside, this ad makes me feel sick to my stomach. Like, I’m nauseous right now. I think it has something to do with this screenshot:
What do we see here? Obama looking down, shirt ruffled, sleazy grin on his face. What do we hear? A voiceover discussing his support of comprehensive sex ed for kindergartners. And so, I wonder, what are we meant to imagine? That Obama is looking down at a little kid in a sexual way. And what are we meant to feel, as a gut reaction? Outrage and fear.
Well it worked – I do feel outrage and fear. Outrage that McCain would stoop so low as to dip into the Birth of a Nation playbook , and fear of the filth to come out of his campaign.
Since Mad Men’s rocket launch to Must See T.V. status, everyone’s suddenly all interested in the ad industry. I hear questions like these all the time:
“Do you guys really drink all the time?” (see this Gawker post for more on that – the first agency mentioned is mine)
“Are the guys really that bad?” (in the ad agency of 2008, everyone’s that bad)
“Do you really have that muchfun?” (well, to answer your question, we have a jumping contest today from 1-4pm in the 15th floor “Jumpatorium”)
“Are your co-workers really that clever?” (a whole-hearted head nod YES)
“Who is the Don Draper at your agency? Can you give him my number?” (we’ve got a Draper or two, and I’ll see what I can do)
And then there’s the fashion. Sure, a few creatives sport fedoras, awesome button down/blazer combos and daring hair color choices. But to be honest, our everyday outfits pale in comparison to what you see on Mad Men.
American Copywriter thinks the sleek and sexy will make a comeback in the modern agency. While I could imagine a male creative perhaps pulling on a suit for a pitch (maybe), I highly doubt they’ll be a drastic change in daily ad man fashion. A pity, really, because a man with a sharp suit and a vision can sell virtually anything.
And as for the women? Joan-chic… that has a nice ring to it.
I DVRed CNN’s Black in America: The Black Woman and Family and watched it last night with a few other people. We all agreed that it was God-awful. The whole show went through all the problems with the “Black family” (whatever that means), and then included this asinine section about dating outside of one’s race. The basic jist: there are positively NO Black men for Black women to date, so some of them are even resorting to (wait for it) WHITE MEN. OH NO. The world is coming to an end.
I’ve been dating White men my whole life - so am I some kind of freak? It’s not like I was pushed to it out of desperation either. My first love was interracial, like me. We met in 2nd grade, and I loved him immediately. He moved to Kansas in 5th grade, then to Woodstock in 6th, and then to the Greene State Medium Security Penitentiary at the age of 17 – but we’ve remained close.
Since then, I’ve found myself deeply attracted to people who are my opposite (at least on the outside). I’ve been trying to figure out why for quite some time, and I think I’ve boiled it down to a few reasons. The first has to do with catcalling. I was an early bloomer and I remember, at the age of 11, being very uncomfortable walking past large groups of Black men (well, male teenagers). They’d always yell things at me or whistle or walk next to me. Not saying all Black guys do this, but on the whole Black men are much more vocal with their flirtation, and when I was young I really didn’t know how to handle it. I think this informed my early proclivity for White boys.
The second has to do with my family. Both my mom and my aunt (her sister) married White men. We’re a family of mixes and matches, of skin tones and hair products. I guess I always thought that was the norm. My dad was White, my uncle was White, my cousins were tan like me – that’s how it always was.
The third reason is a bit harder to explain. For some reason, I get this sentimental feeling deep down in my stomach when I see a Black woman and a White man together. Maybe it’s because I figure any White man has a relatively easy life in comparison to any Black person. But when he decides to enter into a relationship with a Black woman, he is immediately making his life (on the outside at least) just a little bit more complicated. Of course, the same can be said for the woman. They will both have to answer questions and endure the 2-seconds-too-long glance from virtually everyone they pass. But they’re both willing to answer the questions and stare back. Together. There’s something absolutely beautiful about that.
And on a purely personal level, star-crossed lovers – separated by age or location or race or gender or whatever else can keep two people apart – have forever fascinated me. I have a catalogue of movies in my head that feature such relationships, I rummage around in bookstores for such stories, and I have also yearned for a star-crossed ingredient in my relationships. A little extra element to push things into the realm of the sentimental. Something to make my heart ache, at least ever so slightly.
But that’s just me, of course.
So what really bothered me about this CNN Special Report? They chalked up the dating preferences of all Black women to logistics, pure and simple. Workplace, school, neighborhood, whatever. Here’s a tip to CNN: Black people are not some monolithic group that one can do a little study on and call it a day. Everyone has preferences (White people AND Black people AND everyone in between!), driven by a multitude of factors. Factors that include logistics, sure, but also include – dare I say it – feelings. Crazy, convoluted, tangled feelings.
So in the end, I’d like to say thanks but no thanks to CNN for this predictable and ice-in November-thin lab rat study.
Hey. You there. Do you spend entirely too much time on YouTube? Do you scour the site for funny clips? E-mail blast your friends with “besties”? Post particularly provocative clips on your Facebook profile or Twitter them to show strangers just how witty you really are?
Yes? Well then I’ve got a fun project for you. I’ll be writing a weekly column on The Madison Avenue Journal called Commercial Worthy, where I will be exploring the T.V.-commercial-potential of all my favorite YouTube vids.
Of course, after years of YouTube addiction I’ve got tons of clips – but I’d also love your input. If you keep a list of awesome clips, or if you come across one that you think would make a great commercial video, comment on this post with a link or e-mail me a tip. If I find the video particularly commercial-worthy, I might write it up.
And check out the column, which will run every Thursday on TMAJ.