The Whole Package

Go YouTube a few Super Bowl commercials and see if you recognize these “types.” This year’s “winning” Super Bowl ad featured an unmarried couple locked in a stereotypical gender/relationship conflict. In this commercial, a “loser” man, in couch-potato posture and engrossed in televised sports, is unresponsive to a strikingly beautiful young woman’s attempt to command his attention. In desperation she grabs his last bag of Doritos, heads into the bedroom, strips naked, and stretches out on the bed covered in nothing but the tantalizing orange chips. This tactic gained his attention for now she was the “whole package”—the complete consumable—and with this adjustment the relationship became worthwhile enough for the man to momentarily abandon the television. She had been transformed from “bitch” to “hottie.” Yet when we reach for a bag of Doritos in the supermarket we do so with a sense of value-neutrality. In the same article, Messner and Montez de Oca write, “The Super Bowl and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue are arguably the biggest single electronic and print sports media events annually in the United States. Due to their centrality, size, and target audiences, we suggest that mega sports media events such as the Super Bowl and the swimsuit issue offer a magnified view of the dominant gender and sexual imagery emanating from the centre of the sports-media-commercial complex.” In other words, if you want to know where we stand on gender and gender relations…examining our affiliation with these two events is a good place to start. And don’t for a minute think that the swimsuit edition of SI contains more objectionable sexual content than the Super Bowl

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