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#NOTBUYINGIT: The Problem Is Far Bigger Than Audi’s #BraveryWins

[Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape and the motivations/tactics of rapists.]

If you missed the Beyoncé Bowl (alternatively: The Super Knowles) it was perfect. Beyoncé used her extensive catalog of hits, her once-in-a-generation talent, and her staggering genius to put on a show none of us deserved. Her opening and closing act was a little bizarre and elaborate, with two groups of men adorned in ostentatious masculine costumes squabbling over scalar dominance, ultimately abandoning the struggle once time had run out, which I think symbolized the futility of all human endeavors in the face of death? I don’t know, I don’t have the strongest background in modern dance.

At some point during the evening, the German company Audi debuted a PSA arguing against bodily autonomy, with some pretty transparent product placement snuck in. You may view it below:

[Transcript: The commercial opens with a young man in a tuxedo having a boutonniere pinned on by his mother. She says “Look at you, so dashing.” He looks embarrassed and she says “Come on, nowadays lots of people go by themselves” eliciting a snarky “No they don’t” from his little sister, who is sitting at the table and coloring. “Yeah.” He says quietly, turning to walk out the door. “Hey son,” his father says, tossing him a set of keys and adding “have fun tonight.” The young man gets in the car and starts it as "Can't Win Em All" by Hanni El Khatib starts playing. He arrives at an stop light, where a girl to his right wearing a wrist corsage yells “Prooooom!” through the half-open, tinted window of a limousine. He arrives, parks in a spot labeled “Principal Only,” the rapscallion, and locks the car remotely. A sign reading Emmerson High School can be read in the background. Making his way through a crowded ballroom, he walks up to a young woman in a red dress and tiara; as she turns arounds, he kisses her and the music stops. Gasps followed by hooting can be heard from the crowd. A guy in white tuxedo wearing a sash reading Prom King fights his way through the crowd, visibly upset, yelling “Hey!” The next shot is the guy back in the car with a purple bruise around his eye, but smiling. A short shot of the girl with an ambiguous expression on her face is followed by one on the guy jubilantly whooping. The text “Bravery. It’s what defines us” is followed by the company logo, the text “Truth in Engineering” and #BraveryWins.]

The message of this commercial is: if you are driving a nice car, you are entitled to having your sexual/romantic desires met, in public. Because women, like nice cars and other luxury goods, are property you might incur negative repercussions, but you shouldn’t doubt for a second that you absolutely have a right to them. If the comments over at Jalopnik and the tweets to those the linked article highlighted are any indication, this interpretation is not universal. Some viewers felt that not enthusiastically endorsing their interpretation of the kiss as harmless was silly because it was just a commercial, because the girl “liked it,” because the only reason someone would have a problem with it is if they were jealous, because shut up, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, shut up.

Charming shit. I especially enjoy the logic of asserting that it doesn’t matter because the story is fictional, but despite that fact they are able to read the non-verbal consent of a complete stranger in the span of a few seconds. I am likewise overjoyed that people are still putting on productions of “It Wasn’t Sexual Assault Because She Liked It” — I was humming “Calling Everything Sexual Assault is an Insult to People Who Have Been Sexually Assaulted” all morning. But I have a few critical thinking questions for you.

How would your feelings have changed if the boy hadn’t been thin, white, and conventionally attractive? What if the commercial contained an epilogue where all the partygoers who ever felt attracted to the girl he kissed queued up behind him, waiting their turn? How would you feel if every single person who felt sexually attracted to you, regardless of your preferences or desire, felt entitled to spin you around and do whatever they pleased to you? How many times do you think this or similar “spontaneous” violations have happened to this particular girl? Does she have a history of being abused, perhaps one that has taught her that for her own survival she cannot, under any circumstances show displeasure when being abused or assaulted? Does she have any phobias related to human contact? If she said to her best friend earlier in the night “I don’t care if Harry Freaking Styles shows up to prom, I will not be kissing ANYONE tonight because I-“ 

  • “Think kissing is gross and never wish to engage in it with anyone.”
  • “Have a weird taste in my mouth and would die if anyone had to be subjected to it.”
  • “Am having a severe case of body anxiety.”
  • “Am feeling nauseous/sick/tired.”
  • “Do not want anyone near my mouth or my body, for mysterious reasons that are my own and not anybody else’s business.”

WHAT THEN? Does his desire to “make a grand gesture” override her desire to not be kissed by anyone, for any reason? Will you grant her one fucking day, a dance, an hour, a minute away from being open to having her personal space breached? This might seem like hyperbole, but answering “no” to that reprieve indicates you think like a rapist. If you won’t get consent before touching someone, if you feel entitled to someone’s body, for whatever reason, you think like a rapist. Whether or not he’d be convicted for assault for kissing her is immaterial. The fact that car commercials aren’t documentaries is immaterial. Your interpretation of her body language is immaterial. This next part is the important bit, I’m going to bold it for the newcomers.

Rapists do not act alone. Rapists believe that all men (and yes, anyone of any gender can rape or be raped but the majority of rapists are men) prefer rape to consensual sex. They seek out friends, organizations, and media that confirm their belief that rape is normal and acceptable, that victims of rape do not deserve justice, and that consent does not matter. They seek out survivors online to harass, threaten and intimidate them. And even if every sex act you perform on this earth is Yes Means Yes consensual, if you think like a rapist there is a very good chance you will attract rapists who want you to confirm that the next person they rape has it coming/will enjoy it/does not matter. If you think like a rapist you may encourage and enable rapists. You may be doing all of this already.

Read the top post in this Reddit thread. Ignore his rationalizations; rapists rationalize. Notice the way he dehumanizes the women he raped? The fact that he raped women he might have had consensual sex with? That nowhere does he pretend he “lost control” or was confused about what he was doing? That he thinks consensual sex is boring? That he allied himself with powerful institutions to protect himself? This is how a rapist thinks and operates. And you can do something about it.

If you have the stomach for gore and violence, watch the horror anthology V/H/S currently streaming on Netflix, specifically the first short “Amateur Night.” Near the end you can see a guy stopping a rape in progress. The woman being raped has passed out and the man she was making out with continues to undress her. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY RAPE, CONSENT REQUIRES CONSCIOUSNESS. One of the rapist’s friends stops him. He’s not even very confrontational about it, he just chides him gently and the man is shamed into stopping.

You won’t always be in the room to intervene. That’s why when a friend of yours tells you he is intending to trick, drug, and/or coerce a sexual partner you tell him, in language he understands, that he is planning to rape someone. If a friend of yours rapes someone, recognize that attacking, intimidating, or silencing the person they raped is enabling rape. Recognize that powerful and powerless people commit rape and are raped, that consent is not a single event but a continuous process, and that thinking like a rapist is very common because of the society we live in, but it is your responsible to educate yourself and others.

If you cannot see what any of this has to do with the commercial at the top of this page, it is probably because you’ve been trained to sympathize totally with the shy wallflower dude pining for the girl and simultaneously trained to ignore the feelings of the girl he pines for. The idea that a woman may want veto power over the passing whims of every person who finds her desirable is dangerous and subversive, because, as the paternalistic maxims of rape culture teach us, as long as the guy in question is a “solid bro” she shouldn’t have the desire/need/right to complain or be upset when he demands access to her body, because that is what’s good for her. “What if this is sexual assault?” always takes a back seat to “What if this is love?”

People pushing back against the idea of the pervasiveness of rape culture often complain that Feminism is killing sexual spontaneity, that Feminists are trying to bring “contracts into the bedroom.” But a hardline stance on consent is much simpler and less likely to result in assault than simply assuming you are a finely tuned barometer of another person’s sexual interest. You being willing to take that risk is immaterial — it is not your discomfort, sense of safety, health, or autonomy at stake. I’m more than willing to shake as many dollars as I can out of you and slap it all down on black, it isn’t my money and therefore means nothing to me if I lose. The measure of your bravery or decency is not how cavalierly you disregard other people’s needs and desires for your own benefit.

You want to be a hero? You want to be brave? Think critically about how media representations of consent enable rape. Fight against rape in your community. That takes a whole hell of a lot more courage than driving a goddamn car.

Note: The official moderation policy of Tiger Beatdown is that commenting is a privilege. Any legal document, law, treaty, or executive order cited to circumvent this policy must mention Tiger Beatdown by name. You wanna express yourself go join an art class.

33 Comments

  1. Jordan wrote:

    Bravo.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  2. Katherine wrote:

    Thankyou.

    I was kissed, non-consensually, at my senior prom. It was awkward and bad and left me feeling weird and confused, and I determined that I would need to discuss it with the kisser (who was a friend of mine) to get to the bottom of it. I didn’t really have the language to describe what I felt, which was that I felt violated, so I decided just to talk to him about why he did it, and what it meant. When I mentioned it to him, he claimed that he only did it because I was “asking for it” and he “felt sorry for me” and then stopped talking to me. Because he was allowed to put his tongue in my mouth without my consent, but I was not allowed to ask him a question about it.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  3. Lysana wrote:

    And the fact the Prom King felt entitled to hit the guy for daring to kiss “his girl” is a double whammy on the rape culture/woman as property front. Her reaction was immaterial. *He* was offended at the violation of *his* territory. So what she thought of it all from first to last was meaningless to the narrative of the two young men. She may as well have been the Audi. Oh, wait, they already did “woman as car” in a different ad, didn’t they? I like the cars, but their ads are ensuring I’ll buy a Subaru instead.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  4. Jayle wrote:

    The question I have is how does a traditionally successful high school figure (white, thin, conventionally attractive, rich enough to borrow an Audi from his father) not have a date for prom in this kind of narrative? Is it because his father is the school principal, which would explain his misuse of the parking spot? Or could it be because he’s already persona non grata, thanks to prior abuses of his classmates?

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  5. Davey wrote:

    Thanks for this. I’m really kind of new to the whole discourse on rape culture / talking about gender and patriarchy, etc, and was having a hard time articulating why that commercial bothered me. Now I can just link people this.

    As men it should be our job to help other men rid themselves of these poisonous attitudes we’ve internalized. It’s not fair to ask women to do that (and then excoriate them when they try). Pointing out shit like this in commercials is just a first step.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  6. Elayne Riggs wrote:

    This ad has been running awhile on one of the Facebook games I play, so I’ve been viewing it for longer than most. The thing of it is, it’s a DOUBLE non-autonomy, non-consent thing. He kisses her without her consent or knowledge, AND her prom king supposed-boyfriend beats him up because she’s his “property.” Truly skeevy.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  7. Lindsey Weedston wrote:

    I want to start by saying that I love this post and will be sharing it with everyone who has a face that I can shove it into.

    I also want to call into question the following:

    “One of the rapist’s friends stops him. He’s not even very confrontational about it, he just chides him gently and the man is shamed into stopping.”

    I see this a lot. The sentiment that you don’t have to confront a rapist or cause conflict to stop it. That strikes me as another way of keeping quiet about rape, of being hush-hush and not offending the rapist or people who want to pretend that rape doesn’t happen. I would prefer to see the rapist screamed at and humiliated. Isn’t that a stronger message? You might suffer backlash, but if you’re brave, you can handle it, right? I’d love to see more discussion about this.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  8. Copcher wrote:

    Gugh, the ad is gross. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s excellent.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
  9. Kyle wrote:

    I can’t agree with Lysana’s reading of the Prom King’s reaction. If he were shown to be hitting on some other girl when he turned around and noticed the kiss, then sure. But he’s chatting with male friends (presumably non-sexually), when he notices someone else kissing his girlfriend.

    There are two interpretations I could see someone having at this point, depending on whether the girl consents or not (and I see no indication that the boy has this information when he reacts):

    1) If the girl didn’t consent to the kiss, someone is actively sexually assaulting a person I care about. A black eye might not be necessary, but a physical separation of the two parties seems warranted.

    2) If the girl does consent to the kiss, then TWO parties are actively conspiring to meddle with an exclusive relationship I’m working to maintain, and are doing so flagrantly in front of others with no respect for my feelings whatsoever. Again, physical violence may not be necessary, but an immediate and clear demonstration that I am *not* ok with this is well within my rights.

    We can debate whether or not the depiction of the black eye was a good idea (I’d rather have seen the Prom King and his friends push the assaulter out of the gym and close the door, for example), but I don’t see how being upset at seeing your significant other being kissed by/kissing another person and being upset is sexist.

    Had the gender roles been reversed, and some girl “bravely” walked into the prom to kiss the Prom Queen’s man, the Queen would be just as within her rights to feel disrespected and to show it.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  10. Absolutely brilliant piece, Garland – I agree completely. And you said it so well! First time I’ve been to this blog, but it won’t be my last!

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  11. Yes. This. Yes.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink
  12. Will wrote:

    @Kyle:

    Well sure, if you want to go into a psychological analysis of a fictional character, there are ways you can interpret the Prom King in a positive light. But it’s not about what the Prom King thought or did, it’s about what the writers thought and what message they’re conveying to the audience.

    In the context of this ad, and the wider context of American high school prom narratives, there’s no way that his reaction isn’t a “Hands off my girl!” thing.

    Now, the writers probably weren’t trying to endorse the Prom King’s actions. He’s the villain of the story. It’s a classic trope of high school movies that you’ve got the exaggeratedly sexist, over-possessive jock, who the girl is dating for some reason even though she really likes the underdog instead. So I wouldn’t say it’s a “double whammy of rape culture”, it’s just a terrible lack of self-awareness on the part of the writers, who don’t realise that their ‘hero’ is basically just as shitty as their ‘villain’.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  13. Emily WK wrote:

    Kyle, why do you think that is her boyfriend?

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  14. Michael wrote:

    Interesting. I remember seeing the ad during the game and while not being offended per se, I remember the obvious lack of consent being striking. When the commercial was over I supposed I was a bit wrapped up in their attempt at charm and recall that I even smiled to myself.

    Now that I really think about it I find it pretty disgusting. It’s sick in its own right, but when put in the context of peddling luxury material goods it’s even more dangerous still.

    I’m glad I read this article.

    Monday, February 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  15. jb wrote:

    Grumble grumble grumble. When this aired, I told my gf that “some people were going to make a big deal about the fact that he didn’t ask first.” Grumble. Is it really necessary to criticize literally everything? One commercial insinuated that it was ok for people to graffiti public spaces if they write nice messages, another says that plagarizing work without giving credit, another implies that its ok for Amy Poehler to make insinuating comments to best buy employees, and yet another encourages us to resort to violence over whether cream or cookie is better part of an oreo. Maybe, just maybe, commercials are not meant to adhere to the high standards of society, but rather appeal to entertainment, humor, yes, carnal desire, and anything else to get you talking about their brand. I know. Shocker. Capitalism, who knew?
    Everytime I see an article like this, it just makes me want to say, “really?” Part of me wants to ask, “do you know their back story? Do you know what has happened between these two characters before?” But the problem is that that isn’t the point. When you’re this angry about a 30 second commercial, I feel like more people are just going to roll their eyes at the serious cause that you’re trying to advance than the actual content of your message.
    yes, yes, I know, I’m a guy and I can’t possibly know what it’s like. That’s crap and takes away from any reasonable argument you have. This has happened to me too. Yes, sexual assault is a serious thing. Yes, this commercial is problematic. I ABSOLUTELY get where this is coming from, no question about it. Unfortunately, this article and the fact that it is about a commercial just makes me think that this person was chomping at the bit to write an angry article about something. Like, is it really necessary to criticize literally everything? And if it is… I’ve got a long list of things that super bowl commercials imply are ok that are quite simply not.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink
  16. Julian Morrison wrote:

    The whole “contracts” thing is so wrong, it’s backwards. Contracts are all about taking away your ability to say “no”. What we want is NO CONTRACTS in the bedroom, or the prom, or anywhere – nobody saying “you signed on the dotted line when you wore that dress, too late now”.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  17. Pat wrote:

    What about the girl’s complicity in the whole enabler scene? Women have been fighting for the last few decades to recognize and be recognized as powerful beings who can take care of themselves. Why’d she just stand there and sigh? The portrayal of the girl as a passive receptor is the most offensive part of the commercial.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  18. HV wrote:

    Thank you Garland!! I saw this commercial and hated it for all the same reasons.

    @ Kyle:

    In the 2nd scenario, where you suggest if the girl consented, you say physical violence may not have been necessary but that the prom king with the hurt feelings was within his rights to display some kind of disapproval. Why the “may”? When, in this scenario where the girl consents, would physical violence ever be acceptable?

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  19. Anne wrote:

    Ironic that you endorse the bizarre, male-identified performance by Beyonce and Company and then do a great analysis of the commercial. Beyonce was not powerful. She was a puppet of patriarchy, a pornographic image of a woman.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  20. james wrote:

    @H V

    you’re right, violence should never be used in that sort of situation, I think @kyle was referring to a more publicly acceptable way for a man to let off their emotion.

    However I agree with his(?) main point, just because the guy was buff, tall and had a beautiful girlfriend does not mean that it should be assumed that he is a patriarchal brute. Someone up there argued that the writers portrayed him that way and that may have some ground due to the fact that that is how the media portrays people like him.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  21. Alara Rogers wrote:

    JB, the problem is that no one actually thinks it’s ok to smack someone who is trying to take one of your candy bars on the grounds that no one lays a finger on your Butterfingers. But people do in fact think it’s ok to kiss a woman who has not expressed in any way a desire for you to kiss her. The plot of the Audi commercial wouldn’t be problematic if such plots *only* appear in commercials — certainly it’s kind of offensive to be running round constantly trying to steal cereal from a short Irishman, but I’ve never seen a children’s *show* that expresses that that’s ok, only the Lucky Charms commercials. But actually, the idea that it’s a good and brave thing to kiss a woman who didn’t express an interest in being kissed is presented in TV shows and movies, over and over (as well as real life; the infamous picture of the returning WW II sailor kissing a woman in public turns out to have been a nonconsensual kiss imposed on that woman by a total stranger!)

    So no, it’s not ok for Amy Poehler to make suggestive comments to Best Buy customers, but whenever such behavior is presented in actual fiction, it’s comedy and plainly not supposed to be emulated. It’s not ok to beat people up over their preference of cookie, but that behavior *never* appears except in commercials. But the Audi commercial isn’t presenting a ridiculous scenario that appears only in commercials; it’s presenting a scenario that’s shown to us in dramatic or romantic fiction all the time, and which happens in real life as well.

    This actually hits pretty close to home for me. I spent my entire four years of college being kind of haunted by a guy who believed that if he just kept trying to make romantic overtures to me, eventually he would win me over, because that’s how it works in fiction. He actually *said* so to me. I told him I considered him hideous and would not have sex with him if he was literally the last man on earth, and he said that didn’t matter because in the movies the girl always says she’s not interested in the hero and then he persists and wins her over. Now, he never did me any physical harm, but I ended up having to resort to genuine viciousness and cruelty to try to convince him that I would never be his girlfriend, and even that didn’t work; only when I started dating a guy, and specifically a guy who this guy was afraid could beat him up, did he finally get it.

    So this isn’t actually just an Audi commercial. This is a reinforcement of a trope that exists all over the place in fiction, and it’s a trope that is actively harmful to women. Even women who don’t suffer rape or any kind of physical violation as the result of the trope still have to invest time and emotional energy into trying to convince some jerk that just because he wants us does *not* mean he will ever get us. And all the fiction there is sets us up to sympathize with the ass who pestered me for four years, and sets us up to believe either that I will inevitably give in or that I am a mega-bitch who deserves to be raped or shot or something because I continued to refuse this guy who Really Liked Me, and the fact that I genuinely didn’t find him even slightly attractive and found him really annoying in medium doses just doesn’t matter because he Really Liked Me and only his desires count.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  22. Lynn wrote:

    @JB: In a way I see what you mean. Yes, the commercial is a symptom, not the source. All the same, there are so many people who see no problem whatsoever with it. Pointing things like this out is necessary. For example, it can inform people who previously knew little-to-nothing about rape culture & misogyny. I mean, take me, for instance: I always knew misogyny existed, but I didn’t know just how deeply it runs through our culture until someone analyzed a Taylor Swift music video for me. It was such a “wow” moment for me. This commercial could easily be that “wow” moment for someone else.

    You said you get where the anger is coming from, but then you entirely blew it off as an overreaction. “Is it really necessary to criticize literally everything?” Maybe not, but it IS necessary to criticize a commercial that millions of people are going to see when said commercial depicts sexual assault as bravery.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  23. Rosalina wrote:

    As I read this there is a ‘Disney City girl’ ad along the right column. YUCK>
    @HV I agree, violence should not be another method of reconciling an issue. You cannot just hit someone and get away with it.
    @JB The theatrical violence (sexual & physical) of this commercial is something to be discussed because no matter how small this issue may seem, it is a perfect illustration of the smaller seeds that become implanted in impressionable brains or reinforce ignorant ideas that then grow into ugly problems. Why is this so hard to understand?

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  24. Philip Finn wrote:

    It speaks to the bigger issue of institutional privilege, and what we’re willing to have other people suffer – without their consent and against their will – to maintain the status quo we’re willing to accept.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  25. eXXposed wrote:

    A side note on your side note: V/H/S was one of the most pervasively uncomfortable movies I’ve ever watched: not because of the expected horror content, but because of the complete lack of humanity in the characters. The women are overwhelming presented as either products for consumption or stereotypical “evil bitch” characters. The closest we get to a female character with her own human motivation is *literally* a harpie. The one singular non-reprehensible man in the movie gets thoroughly punished for his efforts and even the rape stopping “hero” of Amateur Night spends the whole time up to that voyeuristically recording the evening for posterity.
    The garage scene is one of the most gratuitously unnecessary scenes I have ever experienced in a movie.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink
  26. JADE wrote:

    @ANNE A woman asserting her own sexuality, and embracing it is not somehow making he a “puppet of patriarchy”, and I hate it when people who call themselves feminists make those kinds of arguments. As a woman, I believe in allowing a woman to portray herself in any way she sees fit. If I want to shake my ass at a club, I am not a “puppet of patriarchy”, I am a woman who is taking control of my sexuality. Your comment reeks of slut shaming, and I think you’re the one who needs re-evaluation, here. Not Beyonce.

    Friday, February 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  27. OtherBecky wrote:

    JB: You do realize that coming to a blog dedicated to feminist critique of pop culture and then complaining about the fact that feminists are critiquing pop culture is perhaps not the best possible use of your time?

    See also: Moff’s Law.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  28. Grace wrote:

    Garland!! Good to see you.

    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 1:08 am | Permalink
  29. Perla wrote:

    I have to agree with Exxposed about V*H*S, although it may have been released with different content or structure in Australia (no segment titles, for one thing).

    I recently had to watch it at work,and the way I described it to my coworker in the screening room was “Technically, the supernatural forces punish rapists, but it’s done in a way that ensures people who enjoy rape scenes with get something out of it”. This led to him asserting that he does not understand how some people can desire that and “put the two (rape and sex/sexiness) together”. My relief at this statement from a genuinely good bloke I know reasonably well? A product of living in the rape culture, right there!

    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 4:46 am | Permalink
  30. Amber wrote:

    Yes! That commercial was GROSS. After it was over, I turned to my husband and declared that in my universe, he had a black eye because SHE punched him.

    @ Jayle – The guy is white, conventionally attractive and comes from a well-to-do family, but I read him as an outcast nerd type (scrawny rather than muscled, for example) and his assault of the girl as a nerd-vs.-jock kind of act of rebellion. As this kind of narrative goes, the pretty girl dates the jock, while the Nice Nerd Guy is “friend zoned” because of his lack of confidence. Borrowing the Audi gave him the confidence to show the girl that he likes her, and (presumably) she’s pleased by his sudden display of masculinity. GROSS GROSS GROSS, as these kind of Nice Guy narratives always are.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:06 am | Permalink
  31. William Berry wrote:

    Excellent piece. I haven’t seen the commercial because I don’t watch sports, but I agree with every point.

    @27 (otherbecky): Precisely, and very well said. I was thinking the same thing.

    I have checked out this blog for a long time in order to read Sady Doyle, but I haven’t seen her here in a while. Is she still writing somewhere? I really need a fix!

    Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  32. metl wrote:

    @Jade: Is she really asserting her own sexuality? Hasn’t she been wearing hypersexualized outfits chosen by her parents since she was a teenager?

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  33. Shai wrote:

    @PAT I agree with your interpretation. The Girl in Red Dress is little more than a prop; this ad is only technologically more advanced than the old Charles Atlas comic advertisements of the lat ’50s. She’s a compliant brass-ring to be claimed by the male demonstrating the most audacious maleness; there’s no communication, no resonance between them beyond the kiss. The Audi-kid discards her as quickly as he arrived, having had his use of her for his own purposes. It’s a disgusting ad. All the women in this ad, except for the little sister were rendered less honest/effective/relevant than the men, used as foils to contextualize their decisions and actions as better.

    Friday, March 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink