Friday, July 25, 2008

Woman on Top

Women have been getting the upper hand for years on Madison Avenue, or wherever new advertising campaigns are incubated. It’s just getting edgier and more blatant, is all.

In the recent Cadillac commercial, "Khakis," a leggy young female exec revels in intimidating her male subordinates. The “climax” comes when her mere presence beside one of these guys in the elevator causes his ballpoint pen to spurt its load into his shirt pocket. You can see it here:

(“Khakis” was named by Adweek one of its Best Spots of the Year.)

Nothing new here. “The Girl Wins” has been the rule in advertising for many years. Which means, of course, the Guy Loses. Other rules follow, as in Rock, Paper, Scissors, spelling out who trumps whom, in terms of gender, ethnicity, social status, in a carefully constructed hierarchy of political correctness.

I’m convinced that these rules of precedence are spelled out somewhere, but if not, they are definitely followed, tacitly and exactly.

Nothing new, as I said. On Madison Avenue or Hollywood. It took Women’s Lib to bring us Thelma & Louise and Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs to make her interrogators sweat in Basic Instinct. But demanding (and drop-dead gorgeous) women have had a long and profitable cinematic run… Theda Bara, Mae West, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, come quickly to mind.

And what is more titillating to a male moviegoer (of any age) than watching some cinematic love goddess manifest her sexually aggressive side on the big screen? Like Marilyn Monroe not only seducing Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot, but climbing all over him to do it? (Of course, he's an exceedingly willing "victim.")

Or the Great Greta Garbo looking lovingly down on John Gilbert, before wrapping an arm around his neck and pulling his willing mouth to hers?

Sometimes it's fun to be looking up... at the Goddess on Top.

May the trend continue.

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