Friday, February 6, 2015

Does sex sell?

Does sex sell? I think we all know the answer – an unequivocal yes. Sex sells in the media. And it's not always the blatant promiscuity that sells, like that displayed in this extended cut Go Daddy commercial. The commercial doesn't even hide its intentions:

"Go Daddy just wants to grab your attention using attractive women, so you listen to what they have to say," the 'teacher' tells her student.

It's disgusting, yet oddly captivating. The commercial is indecent but not obscene. There is no nudity, profanity, or pornographic material, just a string of clever innuendos and seductive gesticulations that teeter between PG13 and R. It's like watching a Saw movie: you want to turn it off but you just can't. You have to see what happens.

Even in commercials and ads that aren't overtly sexual, sex still plays a role. For example, the New Yorker magazine for January 26 shows two actors with the words "Sexy and Gorgeous" above their heads. The photos of the actors are obviously retouched to give them a perfectly and seductively mysterious gaze. Even the New Yorker features pictures of actors retouched and enhanced to increase their sex appeal (albeit the ad was for a play about a date, so there is some artistic value.)

Some people think that in the future, more of the media display realistic, untouched models in ads. I don't see this happening. I truly believe the market decides how the media portrays people, and so far, sex has done pretty well. People like to buy products from good looking people. Researchers in the Netherlands proved this. We would rather buy shampoo picturing a hot celebrity with volumes hair than a bottle that pictures, well,  me for example, with my strange hairline and fickle curls.

But recently, magazines and modeling agencies have started photographing more natural looking women and a viral Dove ad revealed how the modeling transformation process can destroy self-esteem. Interestingly, if you visit Dove's website, the women aren't everyday, wash-and-wear, au naturale kind of people. They are glistening, fit and display perfectly white smiles.

Even Dove, who says they have "a vision of a world where beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety," finds the temptation to photoshop too appealing. 

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