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Sneaker Or Sex? Object or Subject?

What do we have here? This advertisement ran in every teen magazine from Cosmogirl to Seventeen. There are two images of Christina Aguilera, pop princess of the nineties, one of her as a nurse and the other as an injured patient. Looking at this ad, we can start with the literal. Christina number one is standing, left hand on hip, and is grasping an enormous vaccine in her right hand. Her double, Christina number two, is sitting upright on the hospital bed, supporting one knee with one hand and is holding an ice pack to her temple with the other.

  Christina and Sketchers

Christina number one is standing in a strong position and is holding an instrument of force, yet her dominance is compromised by the skimpy naughty nurse outfit. You can even see her garter hanging out of her barely-there jumper. The little scarf around Christina number one’s neck is choking her, into confining to a standard set by men to be sexy. Christina number one is holding some sort of metal object in her hand that appears to be a vaccine. The vaccine itself is an oddity. It is giant, probably 5 times the size of a flu shot. The phallic symbolism is obvious.
Christina number two is in a submissive pose and looks disturbed by Christina in the nurse outfit. She is holding an ice-pack to her head, so what kind of injury constitutes a vaccinating? Why does she appear so annoyed by the silvery metal oblong object? Is she really submitting? She’s compromised, yes, and in a sense must submit to the nurse…but that bugs her.

We begin to lose sight of what the ad is actually advertising for: sneakers. Sure, they’re in the foreground of the image, but the first thing our eye goes to is Christina number one, the naughty nurse. You can’t even see her shoes. Is this really an ad for sneakers? What are we supposed to take away? How does this ad motivate people to even buy the product? It may fulfill some sexual fantasies of men, but how can it speak to women and teenagers?
Is this what we should be for our men? This ad seems to be delivering a behavioral tutorial for women and men. Chrisitina number two seems bothered by the outfit of the naughty nurse. She plays the part of the man being pleased by the woman. The woman (Christina number one) is clearly in charge, even in her pleasing outfit.
We should do as they want us to do and we should act like Christina? We should dress in a sexy way and appear helpless. We get the sense that Christina number one is going to punish Christina number two and physically harm her. At the same time, she’s (ignore the pun) giving her a taste of her own medicine. This is what our society wants us to be: hardworking to the point of exhaustion (to appear attractive) and sexed up. There is no man in this ad, yet Christina number two on the bed is in a man’s position. Is that look of distain really for the men that feel they are confined to society’s views that women are sex objects?
If we look at this ad in the context of Christina’s life and comeback as an artist, we can find new meaning in this advertisement. Christina number two has an open mouth and an utter look of distain for her counterpart. It can be said that the real Christina Aguilera was much more innocent and wholesome in her days on the Mickey Mouse Club and as a young diva. We all watched her become “Dirrty” with cut off chaps and saw her transform into a sex kitten. She became this glamorous and sexy woman. As Bordo notes, practices such as cosmetic surgery, obsessive dieting and physical training represent, how cultural “representations homogenize” and how “these homogenized images normalize” (Bordo). Christina number two has obviously injured herself from working out, to achieve the perfect bod she’s known for.In this ad, she is looking at herself dressed up as an object for men’s pleasure. We can tell by her look that she disapproves of dressing up for men or that men are expected to like women behaving like skanks. There is no man in this ad, yet Christina number two on the bed is in a man’s position. Is that look of distain really for the men that feel they are confined to society’s views that women are sex objects? Not all men see women in that naughty way(let’s hope). However, she’s still wearing short shorts. She’s more covered up, but still is not giving up her image as sexy. there’s something (in the public sentiment) so cool about Christina that no matter what she does-even no matter how ‘skanky’ she gets-we think she’s attractive and cool. Chrisitna number one is large and in charge and is controlling Christina number two (the man figure).
She’s simply recognizing that being a sex object isn’t very desirable, but in her industry it is necessary. She’s not really an object, she is a strong subject of femininity and strength. All advertising “proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more. This more, it proposes, will make us in some way richer – even though we will be poorer by having spent our money”(Berger).

If we buy Sketchers, we too can transform into glamorous vixens that are INDEED in control. She looks great! She’s the one we all want to be: singer, designer, wife, mother! But is she? Naa…she’s just where the men want her.

 

   

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Ave Maria

by Frank O’Hara

 Mothers of America let your kids go to the movies! get them out of the house so they won’t know what you’re up to it’s true that fresh air is good for the body but what about the soul that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images and when you grow old as grow old you must they won’t hate you they won’t criticize you they won’t know they’ll be in some glamorous country they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey  they may even be grateful to you for their first sexual experience which only cost you a quarter and didn’t upset the peaceful home they will know where candy bars come from and gratuitous bags of popcorn as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it’s over with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg near the Williamsburg Bridge oh mothers you will have made the little tykes so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies they won’t know the difference and if somebody does it’ll be sheer gravy and they’ll have been truly entertained either way instead of hanging around the yard or up in their room hating you prematurely since you won’t have done anything horribly mean yet except keeping them from the darker joys it’s unforgivable the latter so don’t blame me if you won’t take this advice and the family breaks up and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set seeing movies you wouldn’t let them see when they were young

                                                                                          popcorn.jpg 

This poem is whimsically written, but behind the rhetoric, there is some meaning. You can’t keep your kids young forever. Sometimes we have to venture into the wilderness to grow up and find ourselves. This place is the movies. (as it was in the 20’s) in the dark, we are fascinated by the glamour of it all: the moving picture, the salty popcorn, the hidden handhold (or maybe a little more). I remember my first movie date. Our parents dropped us off, but it still felt so grown up to be left alone, to be “on our own”. Sure, mom and dad were just a phone call or a restaurant away, but we felt that “fresh air” O’Hara is talking about. It’s scary to think that by keeping kids home, you risk “the family break[ing] up and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set seeing movies you wouldn’t let them see when they were young”. Going to the movies is necessary. Leaving the nest…it happens. For me, I’m about to “go to the movies” in a big way -college.

I’m confounded by the line: “get them out of the house so they won’t know what you’re up to”…what could mothers of America be up to?

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                                                                                   ADAM AND EVE :LOSS OF INNOCENCE

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