In this new commercial from Radio Shack, the electronics retailer and pop artist Robin Thicke promote Beats by Dre speakers through the blatant sexual objectification of women.
The “Beats Pill” is a portable wireless device created by the popular and ubiquitous Beats headphone makers, whose mission is to provide a “premium sound experience at every touch point of the consumer’s life.” Though you’d be forgiven if, after watching this ad, you thought they sold sex toys (or high end drugs).
Here the women are nothing more than props surrounding the product – at one point literally becoming a table on which the “Beats Pill” is displayed. Throughout there are lingering shots on women’s bodies with “#UWantIt” plastered on top and lots of phallic imagery meant to further reduce the women to purely sexual beings.
The commercial is based on Robin Thicke’s music video for “Blurred Lines,” released earlier this year, which is even more degrading to women (and equally boring) but features the same visual aesthetic (i.e. women dancing around Thicke, being compared to objects, etc.). This is worth mentioning because it means that the person in charge of this ad campaign, and all those who approved it at Radio Shack, were completely aware of what the end product would look like. This wasn’t a creative decision made by a rogue director. They saw Thicke’s demeaning portrayal of women and actually thought – “we want that to represent our brand.”
One can imagine the pitch, both for the original music video and this clone, featuring a word like “edgy.” The truth is, though, that there is nothing “edgy” about this kind of dehumanization. Not in the visuals or the concept. It’s as tired and uncreative as it is harmful. Turning a woman into a table? Been done. Women, red lipstick and phallic objects? Saw that at Burger King. Also here, and kind of everywhere. Nearly naked women preparing/packaging drugs? Yawn.
Beyond the laziness of repurposing other people’s ideas for their commercial, Radio Shack and Beats display an appalling public disregard for women here. In the official YouTube description the companies write “RadioShack and Beats have joined together to create a commercial that adds a twist on technology and a little fun!” Apparently treating women like things is what they call “fun”?
And in case you haven’t heard the entirety of Thicke’s song, which is being promoted by Radio Shack in conjunction with this campaign, the lyrics only make things worse:
Tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal
Baby, it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
The overwhelming message of all of this is that women are less than human. And it’s a message that two major brands in America are now actively promoting.
The commercial encourages the viewer to use the hashtag “#UWantIt” to talk about the ad on Twitter. But personally, I’m going with #NotBuyingIt instead.
Written by Imran Siddiquee at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee