If you think the sexism in "Mad Men" is offensive, consider this: The E.U. is seeking to ban gender stereotypes in ads. Maybe it was what some considered a depiction of gang rape in the Dolce & Gabbana ad above that broke the proverbial camel's back, but according to the New York Times, the legislature will be actively assessing and slapping companies on the wrist for even minor transgressions.
And lest you think the move is laughable--after all, who cares if Mr. Clean represents the idea that it takes a "strong man" to clean a floor?--consider the idea that these moves could eventually become legally binding. The thought of the government regulating advertising sounds scary: I would rather they outlaw companies making outrageously false claims about wrinkle creams than focusing on the creative side. And what next? Editorial output? Journalism?
"The concern, according to the committee report, is that stereotypes in advertising can 'straitjacket women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed-down for both sexes." Well, that sounds noble. And it seems like the advertising industry is experiencing a small but significant revolution in general. The prevalence of blogs has created a kind of public awareness of airbrushing and the other types of tomfoolery advertising has traditionally relied on to sell products, and the usual tricks don't seem to be working anymore. France is even proposing to levy fines against ads that feature overly skinny individuals in order to combat the promotion of anorexia, and who could forget Dove's campaign aimed at "real women?" It seems like we're slowly but surely moving toward a radically different set of standards. Still, one look at the ad above and it's clear we have a long way to go.
The question is, is it the government's place to regulate such things? Or is it up to the public to simply self-ban and boycott by refusing to purchase products that use gender stereotypes and degrading images to sell? You tell us.
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