According to Jean Kilbourne in “Advertising is our Environment”, “The important question is not ‘Does this Ad sell the product?’ but rather ‘What else does this Ad sell?” (Kilbourne 101). With advertisement becoming the landscape of life and culture the ever-seeing effects have become more intense and measurable. All advertisements try to sell a product but don’t just sell this product they also sell different ideas about society and culture. In this Loreal advertisement, it depicts a woman getting her hair done in a professional studio. Even though this Loreal advertisement just looks like any other hair advertisement, it is actually showing a story of abuse and sexual assault in Hollywood.
The way that the model is played shows the sexual assault in the production industry. The woman is positioned in a seated position where the audience cannot see her legs. Not having the audience see the model’s legs makes it seem like something bad is happening that the advertisers do not want the audience to see. This makes there be an emphasis on the top part of her body. It looks like there is a force at her back because of the way she is leaning forward keeping her from relaxing back. Her muscles are also extremely tense, which shows that she is anxious about the possible harassment or assault which could happen in her situation. The model is being portrayed as being exposed because of the little amount of clothing she is wearing. The model could have been wearing more clothes but was forced to take them off because of production value. It is proven that the more skin showed the more attention that advertisement will gain. The woman also is wearing makeup that is smudged and very dark, depicting that she was crying and is depressed. She could be crying because she is forced to do things that she doesn’t want to do such as sexual acts. Also, the constant pressure of having to be and act like a model could make her depressed, and the outside pressure from companies to do things that she does not want to do. The model's body position and language emphasize the fact that this scene is portraying sexual assault.
This ad portrays the man sexually assaulting the model, which is a very common thing in Hollywood. He is positioned in a standing which can be considered a stance of power; this is important because it is showing the man as having power over the woman. He is also wearing fewer clothes than what would be expected of a professional man doing a job; he is just wearing a sweater and not wearing a top coat. He could have also removed clothes to get prepared for what he was going to do. The man is also pulling the woman’s hair; which is illustrating dominance over her. By pulling her hair, he has the huge amount of power over her and has the ability to make her do what he wants. This man is showing his dominance over her and how he can sexually assault her without any repercussion. This man represents all the sexual predators that are found in production. Recently the attention to a sexual predator in production company has gained exposure in main media such as the #metoo movement. This has exposed multiple years of abuse and harassment that has been covered up.
The background of the image adds to the ideas of sexual assault portrayed in the advertisement. First of all, the image is extremely dark showing how sexual assault happens in the dark parts of Hollywood. The only light that is being used in the advertisement is being shined on the model this shows how the woman is very pure, but she is exposed to a horrible reality of sexual assault in production companies. The importance of making the model looking pure can be seen in “Advertising is our Environment”, “Sometimes the allusion to spiritual realms is more subtle, as in countless alcohols ads featuring the bottle surrounded by a halo” (Kilbourne 97). The connection between purity and the halo effect light is important to show that the advertiser wants the audience to see the model in a pure or religious way. Also, in the background the audience can see that the model phone is out of her reach, so she cannot call for help if something happens which is usually the cause in sexual assault cases. Also, in the background, the audience cannot see any other people, which a perfect scene for a sexual assault. On the table, the audience can see a bottle of liquid in the background which could have been given to the model containing date rape drug causing for her to be more vulnerable to the man in the picture. The use of the objects in the background furthers the story and situation of sexual assault.
The language shown on the ad adds to the portrayal of sexual assault in the ad. The language talks about the product “holding strong” which is what the man is doing to the woman. During and after the sexual assault the man will be ‘holding strong’ to the woman to prevent her from talking about what happened. This ‘hold’ that the man has can be in a form of an NDA, payoffs, threats, or even violence. Also, the mention of celebrities and gold will refer more to Hollywood and to the abuse experience in the industry. The use of the word ‘new’ makes the issue of sexual assault seem like a new issue, but it actually a for issue an extended period of time. Another set of words that are used during the ad is “worth it” this is in context of if raping the person is worth it which in the eyes of a predator it is. Also, the words “reward” is used which the only way for the model to get a reward or to be moved up in the company is to be in a sexual assault situation. The language used during the ad shows a direct relationship towards sexual assault.
This advertisement is shown in People magazine which is targeted towards women and men who are interested in the entertainment world. This specific ad is targeted towards the woman who use hair products. This ad also appeals to the wealthy because of the use of gold, which a regal color and the idea of a celebrity Hairspray. Also, this ad appeals to a powerful stance because of the exertion of power on the woman by the man. This audience is very vulnerable to the idea of sexual assault because of their location. The location of this ad that shows the dominance over a woman in women read a magazine can be very damaging to the woman view of their own value.
This advertisement is a very blatant show of sexual assault and harassment of people who work in the entertainment business. This is shown in a quote by Mark Miller in “Getting Dirty”, “this tells us something more than we might want to know about the souls of men and woman under corporate capitalisms” (Miller 124). This quote talks about how advertisements can tell the world a lot about what is going on in culture. This advertisement shows a lot about how man and woman are viewed in the production industry. The exposure of the abuse that occurs in the entertainment industries has increased in the recent year. The development of the “Me too” movement has exposed years of sexual assault that happens in Hollywood. This advertisement is expressing the same ideas that are seen all over the entertainment world. The idea that the advertisement is showing occurs a lot in the real world. The advertisement emphasis this is a negative idea in a simple ad about Hairspray. The real effect of advertisement like this one is that it is making sexual harassment and assault a normal view in the eyes of consumers.
Advertisements are a portrayal of a culture that the world is constantly exposed to and get can’t get away from. They have been invading people best and worst moments and have had a great impact on people. Advertisements like this Loreal one is extremely dangerous to people’s mentality and norms but are seen everywhere. This normalization of a serious event such as sexual assault is very dangerous because it makes a big issue is becoming smaller and not a big deal. Advertisements such as this that exploit serious issue need to be removed from everyday culture because of the severity of the issues that they address.
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