Objectification is Not a Game
by frootloops on February 27, 2017 - 3:34pm
In this advertisement for the portable gaming system called the PlayStation Vita, a faceless woman is shown to have two sets of breasts, one on her front and one on her back. The tag line, “touch both sides for added enjoyment,” is written in a small minimalist font and is positioned in the bottom right corner. Unsurprisingly, the poster focuses on the provocatively clothed woman and not on the advertised product. By using a camera angle and colour scheme that emphasizes the woman’s slender physique and that manages to conceal her face, Sony, one of the most well respected media conglomerates, puts forth a message that both undermines and objectifies the female body.
An alarming issue with this advertisement is that it explicitly juxtaposes a woman with an object. Her overly sexual dress is the exact same colour as the product being sold; furthermore, her body has been modified to relate to the features of the Vita as well as to appeal to the sexual desires of its male demographic. By making it clear that the female frame is analogous to that of a gaming system, the poster invites the consumer to touch and play with a woman in the same way that they would handle their inanimate device.
This poster is harmful to society for countless reasons. Firstly, it continues the advertising industry’s trend of imposing impossible beauty standards upon women. According to Cortese, “Advertisers are constantly bombarding consumers, especially women, with the message that they are inherently flawed.” (Cortese 75) The presentation of this impossible, slim and, frankly, unhealthy body image will only add to the insecurities of the female population and cause them to harm themselves. A victim of bulimia and anorexia stated that “media influences eventually convinced me I wasn’t worthy of unconditional love from my family and fueled my perfectionism about my appearance.” (Cortese 64) As such, the defilement of the model by giving her an extra pair of breasts sends an abundantly clear message to susceptible women: that it is impossible to have the perfect body. Moreover, the omission of the woman’s face detracts from her humanity and further highlights that she is only present for the viewer’s enjoyment and sexual pleasure.
Unfortunately, this advertisement continues to promote rape culture in our society. The slogan alone is enough to romanticizes sexual violence. It implies that a woman’s breasts are simple sex toys designed to be touched and played with at a man’s earliest convenience. The advertisement not only displays the supposed “subordinate, receptive, and passive” nature of femininity, but also implies the “dominant, intimidating, and violent” essence of masculinity. (Cortese 84) In addition, the model in the poster is looking away from the camera to convey a sense of safety to predatorial viewers who wish to longingly gaze at her breasts, figure and behind.
Ultimately, this PlayStation advertisement is deplorable. It succeeds at objectifying women, normalizing impossible beauty standards, and promoting rape culture. Modifying it in a manner that eliminates all its problems while embellishing the Vita’s strengths would seem like an impossible task; however, it is achievable. Cortese states that “to be successful, an ad must be persuasive on two levels. First, it should raise your anxiety level. It should persuade you that you need something; it should make you feel guilty, inferior, or somehow “less than.” Second, an ad must provide the solution. If an ad captures you on both these levels, you are generally hooked.” (Cortese 75) The advertisement initially caught the attention of its viewers by taking advantage of their incessant desire for sexual interaction and presented the PlayStation Vita as a solution to that issue. To make the ad less problematic, it needs to have a hook that more closely relates to the actual function of the handheld system. As such, the new ad will remove the controversial, double breasted woman and focus on the actual games that the system can play, perhaps some Vita exclusives that emphasize its dual touchscreen capabilities. In the past, the PlayStation brand has achieved commendable success by emphasizing its vast array of games; Shifting the ad’s focus on a misogynistic abomination to the actual product will appeal to PlayStation’s most loyal fans and demonstrate to the average consumer that Sony is not a company that will taint itself with shameless controversy to make profits.
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.” Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, third ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008, pp. 57-89.