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06/20/2005

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Haarball

Alright. Let's get a few things straight here. ONE lousy country in Europe has the steering wheel on the right side of the cars and THE SAME lousy country is driving on the wrong side of the street. So, my potential friend, before even thinking of criticising "Europe", try not to plunge to the use of generalisations in order to make semi-humorous points.

Now, can we make hot homosexual luv?

CorvusE

I'm a guy and I'm with you on this one. In fact, I find ads that aim their entire message at my testosterone to be insulting. I'm capable of appreciating substance...

Alice Lee

Extremely offensive.

Foopy

I would hesistate to call this "virtual rape", and I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with objectifying a person, so long as it's egalitarian (e.g., both the men and women are objectified).

For instance, my guess is that this ad would appear less controversial (and may not have had the words "virtual rape" applied to it) if the gender roles were reversed (e.g., the drivers/gamers were women and the pedestrian was an attractive male).

What does puzzle me most about this ad is that, as you say, the whole thing with the woman seems to have nothing to do with the game or what would make it worth purchasing. Granted, most beer ads are that way too.

are-jay

There are a couple of things that can address the "why would they do that" question, and they both have little to do with video games or national preferences in the appropriate level of nakedness. Most advertisers don't seek to make a direct plea to consumers to purchase particular products based on the products' use or qualities (otherwise this commercial would have shown the game play). Rather, they place products within ideal lifestyle types and hope that consumers identify with the lifestyle, which can be purchased by using products associated with it. This is clearly the case with the two shaggy-haired, teen-twenty something actors in the Juiced commercial. The other thing this commercial tries to use is ironic humor. This is a justification device that can be found in most mens lifestyle magazines and television programs for men (think Spike TV), which basically offers sexist themes in a humorous or playful context. This diffuses potential criticism of sexist content, basically using irony to say that "we know this is sexist, but we are just kidding around, so lighten up." I don't condone the use of ironic humor as a strategy for the objectification of women. Degredation is degredation. And needless to say, ironic humor works just as well in the UK as in the US.

Now this is the situation in which the Juiced commercial tries to work, but it fails miserably. There's virtually no irony here other than the song used, "What is love?" Had the boys gotten their comeuppance by the objectified woman/car, the ad would be slightly less offensive.

This seems to me a clear case of advertisers trying to copy a concept that they don't quite understand.

rjt

racism in a post complaining about sexism? who said irony was dead?

DannoHung

This is TOTAL viral fodder.

You're only serving their interests by talking about it. The point of a commercial like this is not to make the viewer, in particularly, want to buy the game, but to get them to make mention of it to their friends or, as it happens, on a widely read blog or other information portal.

Nell

First of all, I didn't find this post racist (I am not european, though). I think Bowler was just quoting a commonly used argument: "You hear that argument a lot here in America...". He didn't say he thinks that way,.

I am a girl, and I think the ad is degrading . It's not the nudity that bothers me, it's the gross manipulation of her body (poor boobs!) and the way the jerks in the car laugh at her distress.

Besides, the ad is very lame. I agree with are-jay's post. They tried to be ironic, but they didn't get it right.

Zild

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum, as my wife would say...

Tricky. Very tricky.

I don't think Bowler's right to start criticising the ad just because it says nothing about the product - a lot of advertising is aimed purely at spreading knowledge about a company, rather than it's specific products - if you want proof, just take a train through any Japanese city, where giant boards contain the logos of big companies and absolutely no other details. And you've got to be kidding me if you think such marketing doesn't exist throughout the world. Take TV sponsorship (in the UK at least) as another prime example.

I'd also like to point out that Juiced have taken the very common gaming theme of customisation and made a humourous advert about it; I think the joke worked, I found it amusing.

But as for objectifying women, which I must admit is the post's core point... normally, I'd argue that people really should stop worrying so much about nudity and start enjoying it. But would I want my wife depicted naked in public, you ask? Hell yes - shyness is something I abhore, but that's just personal opinion.

I guess the real crux of the matter is the bit about the changing breast size. Once again, it's playing to the old (but incorrect, in my view) opinion that 'bigger is better'. Was this intended to be malicious? I doubt it. Was it used to captivate Juiced's target audience? Quite probably. But off the top of my head, I can't think of a way that the ad could have worked without keeping either this or the stripping that followed.

So basically, I see it as a funny ad that I could respect people for being angry with, but I'm not so sure they could have done it differently.


At this point, I'm tempted to say 'Can't you guys (and girls, of course) find something better to complain about? Like the responses on the site bowler linked to, or the fact that such objectification has been going on for eons in other media, or most of all the fact that sex crimes are woefully inadequately punished (at least, they are in the UK...)?'

But then, I realise that this is our little corner of the world, and even though we may have little weight elsewhere, here is where we can truly make a difference.

So yeah, keep ragging on this kind of thing within the games industry - let's keep our patch friendly for ALL our people.

smadin

I think "objectification" is a tricky word, because it's become very loaded in our public discourse. And I think that talking about objectification in this ad might be missing the point. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with portraying women as objects of desire, just as I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with portraying men as objects of desire (though of course there can be a fine line between depicting a person as sexually desirable, and reducing the person to nothing but a sexual object). So ads that play on sexuality and titillation usually don't bother me, because typically everyone involved is shown as having fun (they rarely make me care about the product, but that's a separate issue).

I agree with Nell: the problem with this ad isn't that it has a woman in it mainly as an object of desire, so much as the fact that the two guys, safe and undetected in their car, are stripping, manipulating and humiliating the woman, who is out in public, and clearly isn't enjoying it; and they're sitting there laughing at her distress: she's not a person, she's just another thing there for them to play with. I'm going to differ with Foopy on this: "virtual rape" IS an appropriate term for what's going on in this ad, because it's about dehumanizing and degrading a woman for fun.

The sad thing is, it's easy to come up with better alternatives; the ad agency just didn't think very hard, and went for the low-hanging fruit. I guess Juiced isn't available for the PSP, but suppose it were: the two guys are standing on the street (let's give them a shave and a haircut while we're at it). They're playing Juiced, messing around with the car customization mode, they see the girl, they see that her top is changing color. Her skirt gets short. She looks shocked, looks around, sees the guys. She smirks and pulls out her own PSP, and now the guys are in tank tops, or boxer shorts with little hearts on them, or something, and it goes back and forth from there. Leave off the ass tattoo at the end, which might as well have been a brand. See? Much better ad, keeps the theme and the sexiness, but loses the humiliation.

girlcreeture

The ad is hysterical and I love it. It's also damned truthful in that it depicts exactly what most young men such as those in the commercial might do were they given the "power" to transplant customization techniques from a video game onto a random female like the one on the sidewalk.

Is it objectification? What the hell isn't these days (and I'm not talking only in the case of women) and why are we not used to it yet? The real question is: Is it harmful?

Um no. The wholly facetious nature of the commercial effectively robs it of any nasty underlying message the sponsers may have been trying to convey, not that they were trying to convey anything more than "hey remember we're the peeps who did that cool commercial".

Anything found to be nasty in the ad is completely superimposed by the particular viewers who can't let their own personal beliefs/opinions go.

Simply: it's a freaking commercial doing what almost 100% of commercials do which is marketing via sex and humor. I think all us intelligent adults will live with or without its existence and before anyone starts with "think about the children" - all those impressionable youths out there don't have to worry about turning into He-Men Woman Haters/Objectifiers due to some booby laden commercials - if that were the case all those boys oughtta be afeared for their weewers considering all the Viagra ads airing all over the teevee these days.

Malkyne

There's an important difference, girlcreeture. The issue isn't objectification so much as it is control. Nobody is making women jump on trampolines, in The Man Show. They look like they're having loads of fun. The woman in this ad is not.

If this ad had, instead, showed these two strangers walking up to the woman and ripping clothes off of her, and messing with her breasts, all the while laughing at her mortification, would it still be funny to you? How is what they're doing any better?

Zild

Does anybody have any thoughts regarding the reactions of the passers-by?

girlcreeture

Malkyne, if the issue isn't objectification, but rather control as you say, than my point would be that people should control their reactions to something that wasn't created to malign anyone in any way which is painfully obvious.

But if we were to really seriously eval this commercial then fair enough, the woman in the commercial isn't very thrilled with the trickery being done to her, however, since we're still realistically looking at it, then why isn't she reacting 100% realistically and running away?

Why isn't she screaming for help? Why be coy and look around for an answer? Is she waiting for the city's superhero to come and save her? And come on, she does not look "mortified".

Also, to respond to Zild's question, what is up with the non-reactionary passerby? What other psychological analysis can we superimpose onto them?

There's a practice used when watching films that can be used in TV and in commercialis, it's called "suspension of disbelief". It's something people do and filmmakers hope audiences will do, in order to keep the product being watched more enjoyable because otherwise people are gonna nitpick til the proverbial cows come home.

I don't find any aspect of the commercial offensive or wrong, what I find to be disturbing in the stead of the ad are people's reactions and how they can so quickly be negative, if you're looking for faults you'll find them because they're everywhere, it's the interpretation that counts.

As for the reimagined "version" of this ad from Malkyne:
"If this ad had, instead, showed these two strangers walking up to the woman and ripping clothes off of her, and messing with her breasts, all the while laughing at her mortification, would it still be funny to you?"

This is exactly what I'm talking about - if you need to present the commercial to me in the above offensively exaggerated manner in order to make a point that I find is pretty knee-jerk - then you've just made mine, not to mention, if that's what you're getting out of the ad then I think that's more of a problem for you than the ad itself...

Malkyne

girlcreeture:

(Trying very hard not to get the flamethrower out.)

No, I did not make your point. This wasn't about ME being offended. This was about me pointing out the reasons why the ad might offend people. While the ad might not horribly offend me, your implication that I'm some sort of latter-day Mrs. Mary Whitehouse *does* offend me. You don't know me or my track record, so I will forgive you. This time.

The reason the original poster used the title "Ads We Don't Need" is because the game industry (and gamers, in general) have a serious image problem, and ads like this DON'T HELP IT. The fact that the ad doesn't offend you does not magically make it inoffensive to the other 6.4 billion people on the planet. While you may not agree with those viewpoints (and those of many of the other posters), that does not make those viewpoints evaporate. Those people and their opinions matter. Those people spend money, vote, and file lawsuits. The industry ignores them at their own peril.

You don't want to see the industry censored, legislated, or litigated out of existence, and I don't want to see it either. So, are we on the same page, now?

Girl_from_Mars

My jaw dropped when i saw this commercial. I played this game at Futureshop on the weekend, and thought it was cool game. Now I feel dirty. I wouldnt rent it, i wouldnt play it, there is no way that i would buy it. I dont understand why a company, regardless of wether it is offensive to MOST people (read: male target gamers), would go out of their way to alienate a dempgraphic. From what i can tell, there arent any girls in the game, why not makret it with a female angle? It's not liek the game alienates women. Granted, i am not your 'average girl' i guess - my dad was a race car driver. He worked for Mazda, i then worked for Mazda. There is an RX-8 - my FAVOURITE CAR IN THE WORLD on the cover of the game. Why.

This is what's happened to TechTv now too, G4 has come in an MTV'd it up - made it a bunch of stupid girls talking about how hot videogame girls are, instead of talking about um, TECH. What garbage. It's pollution.

Jane asked why more girls arent into gaming journalism on her other site - well, for me - this is it. I could deal with this crap all day long.

Zild

No argument from me there, Girl_from_Mars... but where do you stop?

Obviously this ad has offended people. An ad with nudity, but without 'control' would have offended fewer people, I presume. But it still would have offended some...

The fact is that you're always going to offend somebody. Games with gang culture could offend some members of some ethnic minorities; violence could offend pacifists; magic could offend the religious. Someone, somewhere, will always take offense.

I'm not saying you are wrong to complain, nor that the advert should have been made. But where do you draw the line? And how do we agree on that decision?

girlcreeture

Take out the flamethrower, I promise I won't cry.

If it's not about you, then why do YOU have to point out the reasons why OTHER people might be offended? Isn't it terribly obvious to anyone here with a small modicum of observation that we all know the why's and wherefor's of how this ad could possibly offend someone?

If you're not part of this "Whitehouse" family that's cool esse - BUT: if MY implication toward you is offensive... what makes your implication against any number of unheard people not reading this thread INoffensive? Goes both ways...

Fact of the matter is the game industry ain't the only group with image problems and I think it'll live in the long run.

The industry knows what works and what doesn't and if they're willing to sacrifice some integrity and maturity in pursuit of the "household" name then they'll do just that and they won't be the first ones to go that route.

This has become a silly argument therefore I'm off to debate the perils of stripping and legalized gambling, which also threaten to give other groups of humans a bad image yet still continue to thrive...

StGabe

As a sometimes European, mostly American ... get a worldview people. I know this is hard to understand but...Europeans have a different culture than your own and are quite happy with that. No need to get all judgey. No need to talk about the (American) image problem for video games with respect to a European commercial. No need to bandy about indictments of an entire continent when you don't even know enough of their culture to understand that it is only one country of a few dozen that drives on the left side of the road.

This stuff just works differently across the Atlantic -- and any critique of European ways is going to have to come from an understanding of that culture (and not a stereotype). Sexxy, in-your-face stuff is a lot more common. I remember going to the massive, ancient Dom (cathedral) in Cologne, Germany. There's a huge square in front of it it and, right across the square, is a loud, well-advertised gay porn shop. That's just how things are there.

If anything I think Europeans consider themselves (and they can be right and wrong) mature enough to let this sort of stuff hang out and not get too flustered about it. Guys are horny and this commercial is the stuff that floats through their fantasy life. Period. And thus it's effective advertising. Pretending that isn't so doesn't help anything, or at least I think that's what a lot of Europeans would say. Personally, while there are lots of things I still don't like about European culture, I think this is exactly the sort of thing they do really well. Europeans just don't get hyper-sensitive to these issues. Take a real rabid feminist to Europe and she'd probably come off as offensive herself. And yet Northern Europe has to have the best gender equality in the world. If it's not broken, why are we (with almost no understanding of that culture) trying to fix it?

Which brings up an interesting point. Does anyone even know in which countries this was broadcasted?

Girl_from_Mars

It's not so much the offensive angle, but the disclusion angle.
I get the in-your-face-ishness. I was a communication student too, and i understand why the commercial was made, etc. It's very eye-catching - it's flashy, it's got cars and boobs and the power angle, people will remember it, i's perfect for the people it is trying to attract.
It just makes me sad that girls dont factor into the marketing at all, i never see myself in any of those commercials. Oh well :)

Malkyne

girlcreeture says:
"This has become a silly argument therefore I'm off to debate the perils of stripping and legalized gambling, which also threaten to give other groups of humans a bad image yet still continue to thrive..."

Do you really want electronic games to suffer the sort of regulation that gambling and stripping are subject to? I'd rather not see us "go that route."

"The industry knows what works and what doesn't and if they're willing to sacrifice some integrity and maturity in pursuit of the 'household' name then they'll do just that and they won't be the first ones to go that route."

I'm in the industry, and I'd rather you didn't represent us this way, thanks.

Malkyne

StGabe says:
"No need to talk about the (American) image problem for video games with respect to a European commercial."

Okay. Let's talk about Europe, then. How about Greece? They banned ALL video games, at one point. ;)

bowler

"No need to talk about the (American) image problem for video games
with respect to a European commercial."

Okay. Let's talk about Europe, then. How about Greece? They banned
ALL video games, at one point. ;)

Indeed! Let's also not forget that a US Senator is talking about banning a European game that hasn't even been released or played yet.

I don't even know what company made Juiced. It doesn't matter if they're European or American. It doesn't matter what country the ad was intended to run in. They hosted the ad on the internet for world-wide consumption. The game is being launched world-wide. To pretend that localized TV is even relevant anymore in an internet age where the newest episodes of BBC shows are aired in England on a Saturday night and available for download on the internet on Sunday morning, or that there are some sort of national boundaries when it comes to this kind of campaign or content is pure folly.

StGabe

Okay. Let's talk about Europe, then. How about Greece? They banned ALL video games, at one point. ;)

Woot, yet another discussion of "Europe" based on one isolated case. *smirk* You might be interested to know that not only was the law a problem of miswording (it was an attempt to kill electronic gambling not all gaming) but it wasn't really enforced and the rest of the EC was pretty vehemently against it and even said it violated EC law (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/14/greek_game_ban_to_court/). But hey, that would actually require like taking some time to understand a situation and not just using the first headline that seems to support your viewpoint.

Let's not forget that all this hype is, in the end, good for business. Or it wouldn't happen. All this image problem stuff is just, a red herring, given that these companies WANT to have an image problem right now. So some US senator is blowing steam about a 25 To Life, are you honestly worried about it getting pulled? And what is a blog like this doing? Just being part of the hype machine.

But let's see, you are fully willing to allow the internet as a global entity yet are shocked that you can actually view things that have a different cultural bias? WTF? I'd stop posting right now, some internet viewer in Laos might be offended by your eltist American views and this might generate an "image problem" for the blog community, oh noes!

Or we could let Europeans be Europeans and, if we view some of their commercials, even on the internet, we can know to expect to have to actually shift our cultural perspective to theirs if we are going to judge them. And of course this judgey, white-washing of Europe (based on almost no understanding of European culture) was really waht I was replying to (a point you seem to have ignored).

Malkyne

...your eltist American views...
By assuming that we're all American, you're exhibiting the same sort of cultural bias that you're deriding. As it happens, I'm not even living in that hemisphere, at the moment. You're lucky I'm not a Canadian, for whom the accusation of being American is such a grave offense that the temperature drop in the room can cause global climate changes.

Woot, yet another discussion of "Europe" based on one isolated case.
I was merely providing the most drastic example from among the various regulations, bans, and modifications in Europe, in recent years. I'm sorry I didn't provide a more exhaustive list. I clearly don't have anything else to be doing for the next eight hours. ;)

Seriously, while the Greek law might have been a wording mistake, and might not have been widely enforced, there were more than 50 people who were arrested for playing garden variety videogames, facing up to three months in prison, and 5000 euros in fines. There were also numerous net cafes who had machines confiscated. I was honestly afraid to take my laptop to Greece, the last time I was there.

The game industry's image problem is absolutely NOT merely an "American" thing. There are image problems in many countries, all around the world. In Europe, however, the image problem usually has more to do with violence than sex. Germany, for example, habitually bans, or otherwise requires modifications to games, based on violent content.

Let's not forget that all this hype is, in the end, good for business.

Thank you for paraphrasing the first sentence of bowler's original post.

But let's see, you are fully willing to allow the internet as a global entity yet are shocked that you can actually view things that have a different cultural bias?

Oh, for Pete's sake, you're not even addressing bowler's point. He's not shocked this stuff is available. He's saying that it's not bloody relevant if this ad is culturally acceptible in Europe, if it was deliberately put in a place where it would be seen by people in the Japanese and US markets.

Or we could let Europeans be Europeans and, if we view some of their commercials, even on the internet, we can know to expect to have to actually shift our cultural perspective to theirs if we are going to judge them.

You know, US game manufacturers are afraid to so much as put Nazis in their games, these days, because of problems in the German market. There's really no excuse for pretending to be culturally myopic, in this day and age.

But there's something even more important I need to address about what you said. You're appealing to us, your readers, to "let Europeans be Europeans." One of the points I was trying to get across in my much earlier posts is, we, your readers, don't matter. We are not the court of public opinion. Even if I'm perfectly happy to let Europeans be Europeans (which I am), I'm just one person, and I don't even remotely represent the vast majority of people who are going to see this ad.

And of course this judgey, white-washing of Europe (based on almost no understanding of European culture) was really waht I was replying to (a point you seem to have ignored).

The reason I, at least (I won't speak for bowler), ignored this, is because you were fighting the wrong war. You said, "If it's not broken, why are we (with almost no understanding of that culture) trying to fix it?" Who the heck said we needed to "fix" European culture, anyway? (In as much as there's any such thing; it's really many disparate cultures that mostly get along.) I didn't see anyone in any of the posts suggesting that we need to do anything to change the cultures in Europe, in any way, shape, or form. I honestly can't figure out who or what you're arguing with.

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