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"The Gaze" A Look Into The Power Of Looking In Advertisements

2374 words - 9 pages

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Colin Andrews 072324820 CS251-B Word Count: 2002One of the basic elements of the human condition is that we need to reproduce and need to survive. Where this element of human nature takes on an interesting spin, is in our modern day culture, where we use the basic primal characteristics of sex and reproduction to sell products and services. Whether it is a male or female being objectified, producers of the images seen around us every day, such as magazines or billboards or on our televisions, have a direct agenda in promoting an ideal self while pushing a product of service for nothing more usually than financial gain. A powerful tool used by such producers is selling the idea of the ideal self, and the product that can get you there. Through the usage of the ideal self, advertisements that sell body enhancement products use a very large percentage of ad space depicting woman in a provocative manner, which is labelled as selling with "sex". From this notion of sex sells, it leads us to a theory of visual culture known as "the gaze". Much of the focus around the gaze, as highlighted by feminist writer Laura Mulvey, is intended for the viewing pleasure of a dominant male audience [Cartwright and Sturken 76]. The camera is seen as a division of power, and the one who is looking at the person being photographed holds a position of control and judgement. The image that will be analysed in this paper is an image which depicts the gaze very well. It is an ad for 'Nancy Ganz Body Slimmers', contouring spandex sleeves that can allow a woman to control the shapes of her body. The image depicts a young woman around the age of twenty wearing only the Body Slimmers which cover her much like a bikini. What amplifies this image as having the presence of the gaze is not only is this young woman in a provocative stance and wearing just the body slimming slips, but she is being further objectified by a man who is filming her and broadcasting it on multiple TV's that are in the room. The power of marketing body enhancement products is ultimately dependent on the gaze. What a male viewer or even a female viewer take from the image needs to be an ideal self if nothing else. The producers of this image want men to think that this is what beautiful woman look like, and woman are targeted also in these ads to come away with a sense that the depiction of woman seen in advertising is the projected ideal woman in the current society. "Some argue that advertising mirrors gender stereotypes however, others maintain that advertising images actively shape attitudes, thereby creating gendered expectations" [Brooks et al. 202]. So who ultimately holds the power of the gaze? Theorists such as Mulvey say men, given the patriarchal systems of past generations which natural objectify woman as objects of desire and roles of domestication. If much of the interpretation of images is in the eye of the beholder, then images of the gaze must be made in a way that...

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