The issue of representing women in media has always been complicated, due to the changes in women’s role in the society and perception of women from weak and dependable to strong and self-reliant over the past few decades. Despite the obvious tendencies to portray women from a chauvinistic perspective in most media for an impressively long period (Williamson, 1987b), in the twentieth and twenty-first century, feminist tendencies have been introduced into new and popular media. However, because of the specifics of the current popular culture, the effects of feminist ideas in media can be driven to nil, which the recent controversial advertisement of Killer Queen perfume shows in a very graphic manner.
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It is quite peculiar that the given advertisement can be used as the ultimate proof for Karl Marx’s statement concerning commodities representing “social relations among things and material relations among persons” (Marx). Indeed, considering the advertisement closer, one will be able to spot numerous implications concerning the social links between people and objects (Goldman, 2013a). To start with, the crown on Katy Perry’s head can be interpreted as an indicator of social status, with the scepter enhancing the given impression and, thus, sending the audience the message concerning the nobility of the product. The skimpy dress, in its turn, creates a contrast with the previously mentioned item. Another important detail of the given advertisement, the red color is used as a symbol. Even though the idea of using red color as a metaphor of passion seems to have worn out its welcome quite a while ago, in the given picture, the red color does create an atmosphere of passion.
The most interesting part of the analysis, however, concerns the ideological aspect of the product (Williamson, 1987c). On the one hand, the given product seems to spur female empowerment in the postmodern pop-cultural, consumerist world. Indeed, some of the elements can be interpreted as a graphic manifestation of feminist ideas, e.g., the scepter as the symbol of power and the portrayal of a woman as the beholder of this power. However, after considering the rest of the details, such as the overly sexualized image embodied by Katy Perry, the semantics of the color (Williamson, 1987a) and the pose that the model strikes, one will see inevitably that the given advertisement was created to satisfy the tastes of the chauvinist audience.
The commercial featuring the Killer Queen perfume makes one ponder over how inanimate products embody social relations and human values. Casting a glance at the advertisement under discussion is enough to realize that the concept embodied in it could emerge only in the society that lacks equality in gender relationships (Goldman, 2013). The given advertisement is a peculiar commentary on modern society, with its idea of creating an overly sexualized image of a woman as a role model to promote to young women and teenage girls with the help of mass media. The given advertisement, therefore, shifts the emphasis from selfhood to transforming one’s self to fit into the current trends.
Therefore, it must be admitted that the advertisement in question is a product of its time (Williamson, 1987), colorful, dull, and plastic to the point where it becomes an element of a Barbie-style commercial. Being targeted at a specific audience, the product knows what exactly it needs to be, and it incorporates every detail of the glamorous, thoughtless, and alluring fashion-meets-celebrity reality. Killer Queen was bound to become a hit, and a somewhat tasteless commercial only cemented its success.
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Williamson, J. (1987). Chapter one: A currency of signs. In D. McQuail (Ed.), McQuail’s reader in mass communication theory (pp. 20–39). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Web.
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