Everywhere we turn, we seem to be surrounded by images of so-called ideology that are trying to sell us something. Often times these images represent a kind of beauty that is not truly attainable, but in popular culture we are so used to seeing them that we, as consumers and as real-life human beings, tend to forget that these images are in fact a skewed reality. Here I will examine one advertisement in particular and discuss what this ad is selling, what it represents and how it illustrates said skewed view on reality and ideology in popular culture today.
I have chosen to look at a print ad for the fashion powerhouse, Dolce and Gabbana. The ad pictures a woman being pinned down by a muscular man. The woman is very thin with painted red lips, wearing a black corset and black high heals with her back arched in a way that her pelvis is pointing towards her aggressor. She does not seem to view this man as an aggressor by the demure look on her face, but by the way he is holding her wrist so she cannot move makes it clear to me that he is just that. As if this is not bad enough, three more men stand around, unshirted and greased up, looking at the woman as if they are simply waiting for their turn. I know that this ad is for a fashion line simply because I recognize the name, but from this picture I have no idea what product they are trying to sell to the consumer.
More than a product, I believe that the company is trying to sell the consumer on an ideology. They have painted this picture, a falsified one I might add, of this beautiful woman enjoying being dominated by a group of four male models. I believe that they are saying to the consumer that submission is somehow beautiful, while what I am really seeing is the beginning of a glorified gang-bang. What is truly horrifying to me about this advertisement above all is that it is effective. The popular culture that many of us grew up in and recognize, for me at least, has trained my eye to be drawn to beautiful images. Everyone in this ad is beautiful, were they not it would look like an anti-violence PSA. Even upon inspection when I really begin to see what is going on in the picture, it is still effective because of the shock value. This crude image that depicts women as these weak fragile beings who just crave to be dominated in now burnt into my memory along with the name Dolce and Gabbana.
Although I would like to think of myself as someone who is not just sold on any pretty image that is put in front of my face, it certainly has been an eye opener to explore ideology from an academic standpoint. I have learned that ideology can be synonymous with propaganda, which we’ve all been taught is a dirty word, but it can also be synonymous with a more romantic way of thinking, perfection almost. As I learned from watching the fourth addition of Killing Us Softly, it is not only sex that sells. It is images just like the one portrayed in the Dolce and Gabbana ad. This vulnerable woman is stunningly beautiful. Does that mean that in order to look like that I must forfeit my body to this hoard of hunks surrounding me? And as for the men, there is certainly something a bit homoerotic about of them standing around with their shirts off and all oiled up, but they are dominating this woman which now makes this advertisement appealing to the heterosexual male audience as well as the homosexual male audience. Again, this is another success on the part of the advertisers.
I hope that I am able to take with me a better understanding of what the underling text and selling points of advertisements really are from now on, and I believe that my knowledge of ideology will aid me in doing so. When I am attracted to something, I am going to ask myself if I am attracted to the product itself, or the idea that the product is trying to sell me. It really all makes sense know when I look in my closet at all the clothes I have never worn before or at my overflowing bathroom filled with unused toiletries that I may have been buying into this idea of beauty the whole time instead of what I really wanted or needed.