Who is at the Top of the Naughty List This Year? Mrs. Claus.
How do sex and advertisements intermix? People say sex sells, but why do they feel the need to draw a line? In a recent article – http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/12/02/when-sex-doesnt-sell-slew-of-bad-ads-backfire-in-the-blogosphe they discuss some advertisements that have surpassed some sort of invisible line of appropriateness. Particularly noteworthy in this article is a advertisement from Boost Mobile:
In this ad, you see a reindeer snooping outside a window while Mrs. Claus is getting frisky with a snowman. After being nuzzled by a carrot nose, Mrs. Claus says “What? You think this is wrong? Santa is busy and I have needs”. It is certainly far from the typical conceptualization of the wholesome wife of Santa. The author of the article writes that, “some may find the commercial amusing, others may find the depiction of Mrs. Claus as a cheating spouse with a snowman fetish offensive” And so begins the controversy.
But why is this offensive? There are ads that come out all the time with men checking out sexy women to sell beer, and there are far fewer qualms with any of those. This has a lot to do with people’s perception of adultery in society. It is outside of Gayle Rubin’s charmed circle, which is an exclusive group of accepted sexual practices that hold the power in society. Once you choose not to be part of a monogamous married dyad, the charmed circle says, ‘goodbye!’ Furthermore, it plays into Laura Kipnis’s views on monogamy. She believes that staying with one sexual partner for the entire rest of your life is impractical and only a way to maintain the status quo. And let’s face it, Mrs. Claus has been married to Old Saint Nick for a long, long time. As she says in the ad, she has needs, so while Santa is off delivering toys all over the globe, why can’t things get a little steamy with a snowman? Laura Kipnis certainly understands. Our culture is too caught up on upholding this view of wholesomeness with Christmas. Sex cannot enter the scene. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are the poster children of the married dyad, and when that is broken down, it is nothing short of shameful and inappropriate.
This also leads into Rubin’s misplaced scale. This idea is that members of society hold sexual acts to have much more importance than any other acts. When it comes to sex, everything is held up at a much higher level. In the case of this ad, people are so appalled, in part, because of this misplaced scale. Mrs. Claus having sex in general, forgetting the adultery, is far outside of the normal comfort zone.
This is reinforced by this ad of Snow White sleeping with the seven dwarfs.
Again, we see the misplaced scale, for people were not happy with it, and Disney made Jamieson take it off of the market. This is also a manifestation of a sexual encounter that is out of the charmed circle. Having sex with seven dwarves is way beyond a dyad. Refusal of polygamy is a way to maintain hegemony is society.
Ads are way in which people are continuously socialized and affected. If the ads that suggest sexuality outside of the charmed circle are continuously pulled, then those acts will remain unaccepted.