Monday, April 10, 2006

I Am Woman, Hear Me Bore Into Some Poor Schmuck

There's an interesting and dead-on accurate article in Slate today about that odd, creepy Century 21 tv ad that features a couple arguing over whether or not they should buy a house, with the Century 21 agent listening in on speakerphone. The husband is hesitant, and the wife is basically tag-teaming with the real estate agent to shame and heckle him into submission. I'd noticed the ad already, mainly because it is yet another addition to the long history of Woman As Shrew in American television advertising.

There are many variations: Woman as know-it-all (do you remember those high concept pain reliever ads from a few years back, where the man and woman were sitting at a library, and the man has a headache, and the lady is all "take this pill, you moron," and then a few commercials later, they return to the happy couple, and the guy's headache is, of course, gone, and the woman has a horrible, smug look and says something to the tune of "I told you so" to the sadsack, beaten-down guy?), woman as slut (the current Heineken ad with the hot sister getting beers for her brother and his pals by letting dudes buy them for her is particularly galling to my delicate sensibilities), woman as nag (take your pick), and so on and so forth. Usually in these commercials the guy is portrayed as slightly befuddled and/or dim, but almost always as a sympathetic character, while the woman is pushy, smart-ass, and a total harpy, snotty hag.

It's not that I think that there should be no ads whatsoever like this; it's just that there are so many. Now that I have cable again, I'm seeing tons more ads, and hence am in a state of near-constant outrage, shaking my fist at the screen. I guess I'm another harpy shrew, always complainin'...

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