"Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." – Donna Haraway

Archive for the ‘Print’ Category

Sony’s 4-breasted PSVita Ad.

It sounds like some kind of weird gamer rating system, doesn’t it? Which would also be…problematic. But in this case, Sony has released a print ad in France that compares the latest model of the PS Vita to a women with four breasts, the extra pair appearing on her back. Behold:

Double-sided playthings

C|Net’s Michelle Starr gets right to the heart of the issue with this Sony PSVita ad. She writes, “Please, stop using us as bait to dangle in front of your heterosexual male demographic in order to sell toys.”

Sony reps in various markets have responded with the defense that the ad is not running in [insert market name], which raises the issue of cultural context.

I’m not sure how well that defense works. First of all, are we certain that women in France would not also find the ad offensive? I am not suggesting that the cultural context is not different. But I think anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that this is a celebration of the female body and sexuality. The extremity of the depiction makes the woman into a headless (i.e. brainless, speechless, expressionless) plaything.

Second, it seems like a company with a global customer base should be interested in courting that customer base, no matter where they are. As we see over and over again, companies can no longer control the context in which their messages are received. There may no longer be any such thing as running an ad only in France.

(Nod to my students in “Embodied Identity in Digital Society” for bringing the ad to my attention.)

TIME Magazine? Or Cosmopolitan? You make the call.

TIME Attachment Parenting Cover

TIME Attachment Parenting Cover

TIME Magazine Cover: Are You Mom Enough? – May 21, 2012 – Parenting – Mother – Babies – Children – U.S..

Lots of people are talking about the TIME Magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her not-quite-four year old son. From what I understand breastfeeding is just one component of Attachment Parenting. I have friends who have done Attachment Parenting and their kids are pretty awesome. I have others who didn’t and those kids are also pretty awesome. In both camps there are kids who seem to be on track for  “a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection” (Attachment Parenting International).

So it seems like there are multiple means to an end and the decision is a highly personal one that parents should be able to make without being judged.

The only reason I’m bothering to blog about the cover has nothing to do with breastfeeding. Instead, I would like to talk about the mother’s pose. She eerily echoes the poses of women as they are on countless magazine covers – as sexual objects to be gazed upon.

Check out this google search of “Cosmopolitan covers” to see multiple examples like the one below:

Katy Perry on the cover of Cosmopolitan Greece

Katy Perry on the cover of Cosmopolitan Greece

I’m unsure what to make of the parallels except that it seems to fetishize the breastfeeding mother in a way that may distract from the issue at hand. I would guess that the objectification of the mother may be the reason that news stations are blurring the barely exposed breast but…given that we see more exposed on the red carpet during awards season, I suspect it has more to do with American cultural discomfort with breastfeeding.

Again, in a possible misrepresentation of the issue, the mother and child both stare directly at the reader, signifying defiance. Rather than a representation of the stated benefits of attachment parenting, the image challenges the viewer to disapprove. It is designed for controversy.

It is not surprising that the TIME image is composed to have maximum shock value in the attempt to sell magazines. I don’t know if their sales will go up but a lot of people are certainly talking about it.

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