CriticalDance Forum

Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad
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Author:  djb [ Sun Aug 15, 2004 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

What bothers me is that the shoes the guy drapes around his neck as he's leaving the bar are pointe shoes, but he's wearing regular men's ballet shoes in the class. (OK, so maybe he's going to work on his feet at the end of class...)

That reminded me of an issue of Archie Comics that I read when I was a kid. Betty and Veronica are taking a class from their new friend, a male ballet dancer, who, of course, wears pointe shoes (with the ribbons laced up his legs) and twirls around on pointe. Archie and Reggie stand around snickering, until the dancer uses his buffed legs to kick the **** out of a couple of huge goons who try to bust up the class. Naturally, Archie and Reggie want to join the class after that.

The athleticism of ballet is always promoted in the attempt to lure boys to ballet class, sending the message that guys can still be jocks, even if they're ballet dancers. This commercial tells guys they can still be horndogs, even if they're ballet dancers. Will it ever be acceptable to appeal to men's artistic side?

Author:  Patricia Somerset [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

So you find this forum stuffy, Trabhor? Yet I can think of few things more stuffy than clinging to ancient stereotypes of macho men and women as sex objects. What a much more interesting and entertaining ad it would have been with a few feisty women in it dealing with this repulsive boy in the way he deserved! But then of course this ad isn't aimed at women, is it? After all only men drink beer!

I find it truly bizarre to think this ad would increase respect for ballet in general and "male dancers in particular". Can you explain to me, Salzberg, exactly what it is about this male dancer's attitude to his fellow dancers that you feel inspires respect?

I think it's fine to laugh at the positions dancers sometimes find themselves in. I used to do yoga in a mixed class, which included working in pairs. We too found ourselves in some very "interesting" positions, - the difference between that reality and this gruesome male fantasy ad was that it was the same for the men as for the women, so we laughed together. What was important was that we trusted each other and this ad clearly suggests that female dancers cannot trust male dancers to behave professionally or to dance for dancing's sake.

So I find this ad tacky, sad and old-fashioned and I think it does a disservice to male dancers and to ballet.

Author:  salzberg [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 8:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

If you read my response in context, I think it's pretty clear that I'm referring to the subset of young men who at this point have no respect for ballet at all -- who dismiss it as something less than manly (which may not be a criterion for us, but certainly is for them). If we can entice some -- even just a few -- of them into a theater to see a ballet performance, even if they're just coming to see beautiful, scantily-clad women, some will certainly develop an appreciation for ballet as an art form and of ballet dancers as powerful artists rather than as sex objects.

Then again, maybe we could just persuade them by beating them about the head; that's a technique with a proven track record.

<small>[ 16 August 2004, 10:03 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

Author:  Toba Singer [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Stuart encouraged me to check out the ad and respond. I'm with DJB and Patricia on this one. The beer and alcohol interests have always had a reactionary stance towards women, going as far back as when they were the financial mainstay of the anti-suffrage organizations because so many suffragists also supported temperance, and with good reason: Oftentimes, men's pay was spent at the bars (pubs) the minute they got out of work of a Friday afternoon. At age 11, my own mother lost her mother, and had to run over to the local bar to hunt my grandfather down each Friday when she got home from school and before he blew the grocery money drinking and gambling.

The pointe shoes around the guy's neck when he left the bar for the barre was a particularly obtuse and inauthentic touch, and belies the intent of this piece of commercial junk. For whatever reason he was carrying pointe shoes (maybe they belonged to one of his "girl" friends), no dancer, serious or un-, carries pointe shoes around his or her neck like ice skates. The unfunny part is that there ARE occasionally men--straight or just, shall we say, polymorphous whatever, who DO take class to grope others of both sexes--mentally, if not physically; there is even the occasional teacher... So, this is to me funny only to the extent that jokes about gynecologists and proctologists could be thought funny--If circumstances put you in and around bodies in ways that Victorian mores normally disallow, it is inevitable that there will be compromising moments. Are they funny? Sometimes they are, if nobody is made to feel uncomfortable. In this instance, the joke is on the women, who are stuck with this guy, who would no doubt smell like a brewery by the time he arrives at class, and whose drool accounts for probably 9/10 of his body weight. Personally, I won't buy that beer, but then, my companion accuses me of being a secret member of a fictitious organization known as the WCTU--the Women's Communist Temperance Union. :eek:

<small>[ 16 August 2004, 12:15 PM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 10:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Okay... folks, I've been asked to intervene and I can see why. Please have a cold drink and settle down.

We can poke fun at ads and what not but no presumption should be made of other members' lifestyles, habits or personal preferences. If you disagree, argue the points but don't take it out on each other.

Also, every member here is allowed to make a comment about the forum without fear of reprisal.

Finally, the commercial must be taken in context for its intended market. As far as I know, I can think of few commercials for any product that are 100% technically accurate. Commercial producers/directors will always go for storytelling first instead of accuracy.

Author:  2 left feet [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

In as far as the pointe shoes around the guys neck, I feel safe in making a presumption as to why pointe shoes were chosen over technique shoes. Pointe shoes "read" ballet instantly whereas technique shoes would likely have left the viewers wondering what he was wearing around his neck. We all know he wouldn't be wearing pointe shoes especially as he wasn't wearing them in class later in the spot. Television commercials moreso than any other form of communication are about the visuals. What exists in real life (technique shoes) is often sacrificed in favor of the audiences perception of reality (pointe shoes). I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to have art departments place elevators, phone booths, ATM, even cars in places they would never go just because their presence in that spot makes for the right visual. It's all about spit and masking tape we always say.

Author:  Toba Singer [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

In the US, many beer commercials of the ilk tend to be outright sexist and play directly to men's fantasies: in these commercials, women are almost nothing more than dumb bimbos. And even the smart ones are okay with their boyfriends dating their roommates.

In this Argentine commercial, the guy has to work for it by attending ballet class.
In most U.S. commercials, women are PORTRAYED as nothing more than dumb bimbos. In this commercial women have apparently been paid to allow the camera to shoot their crotches. Now I ask you, which women--U.S. or Argentine--are in fact the dumber of the bimbos? I'd say it's a draw. And what could be more outrightly sexist than a crotch shot of a woman, albeit sheathed in a pink leotard? And what is the "it" that the guys have to work for in this one that makes dance class such a character builder, as compared with U.S. scenarios? I'm sorry, I'm not so desperate to have straight men in class that I am willing to put up with the beer guzzler or any like-minded male friends of his that he happens to recruit on the basis of this commercial's appeal. If there's gonna be dirty dancing, please give me Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray! :) ;) :p

<small>[ 16 August 2004, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

Author:  Tom Skelton [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 2:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

I'm not desperate, either, but I'm certainly eager to reach out to and attract new -- especially nontraditional -- ballet audiences and if this commercial lures a few of those people into the theater where they can learn how beautiful dance and other arts can be, I say, "Bring it on!"

...And if while they're getting an aesthetic education, their consciousness gets raised on various social issues, that's even better.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Perhaps it’s not a problem in the US, but in the UK we have a real problem with “laddish” behaviour. A new generation of vulgar lads’ magazines treats women as sex objects in an extension of the ethos established by the UK tabloid press – Playboy they ain’t. Other characteristics of laddishness, also underpinned by these magazines, are binge drinking and results in scenes such as the one I saw recently at 7.30pm in London’s Covent Garden where a man bared his bottom in the street.

The taking of this behaviour overseas has resulted in the British being the most disliked tourists in many continental European destinations, especially Barcelona, Prague and various seaside towns.

This ad accords with this laddish culture and reinforces its underlying ethos. The reason for my antipathy to the ad is to see a dance style that I love being used to support attitudes that I find offensive.

At the other end of the spectrum from Argentina, the most emancipated area of Europe and probably the world is Scandinavia with near equality for women, including roughly 50% representation in the various Parliaments. I’m confident that most of my Scandinavian women friends would be dismayed by the attitudes expressed in the ad.

Tom, the small potential upside from the, in my view, slim chance that “lads” like these will be making their way to ballet performances or studios is completely outweighed for me by the reinforcement of sexist attitudes and the tarnishing of ballet in the process. I commend your hope that, “…their consciousness gets raised on various social issues,” but the ad’s approach of – boorish behaviour is fine and should be copied – seems very unlikely to achieve this.

Azlan, you write:

Finally, the commercial must be taken in context for its intended market.
I disagree – where an ad is causing offence or bolstering attitudes that some deplore, it is entirely appropriate not to take it in the context for its intended market, but to approach it from a different perspective. If some find this ad funny, then fine. But it is entirely appropriate for others to be dismayed and to indicate the reasons why.

I’m pleased that you brought this ad to our attention Maria and I look forward to reading your views, knowing your interest in gender politics.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 9:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

But there is real danger in presumption when you apply your own standards to someone else's culture, no? There are those who believe it sexist that a woman adopt her husband's last name (right, Toba?). By those standards then, are many in the UK sexist for that?

Even within a homogenous culture, the differentiation can be thin. Can ballet itself not be seen as sexist? After all, one purpose of ballet in the 18th and 19th centuries was to give gentleman patrons voyeuristic entertainment before the third act. Just because ballet has been accepted into high art, it's no longer sexist? Isn't that a condition of the specific culture?

If a man secretly enjoys the sight of a woman walking by, is that sexism? Or is it sexism only if he happens to be in a commercial?

Can we do justice by seeing others from an absolute perspective?

<small>[ 17 August 2004, 01:14 AM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

As some of you know, I used to champion women's rights in various capacities. One of my responsibilities was to help identify sexist materials.

It's not always easy to recognize sexism partially because while sexual discrimination and sexual harassment are defined legally, the broader definition of sexist behavior is not (and we found that in many countries, neither sexual discrimination nor sexual harassment were even legally recognized at all!). It came down to interpretation and, even among the women who were feminists, the definition ranged considerably. And something being offensive was not a reliable criteria. After all, there are many people in the US for example who would be very offended by a campaign ad from George Bush while many others would not be.

However, we were all agreed on one thing, which I like to call the "source of perception." In any given case (ad, commercial, movie etc.): 1) Was a group of people being sexually objectified? and 2) If so, what is the source of that perception? This latter question was the key, which I will illustrate using these three real-life examples:

A. The Simply Palm Ad: A nude woman is crouched with a PDA in her hands. Her privacy is preserved by the PDA and her legs. She is facing down and partially hidden by the PDA, so her face is also hidden. The caption reads, "Simply Palm."

B. The Carl's Junior Commercial: Male office workers ogle a female office worker across the street. She is working through lunch. The men bet whether sauce from her burger will drip on her blouse.

C. The Network Security Billboard: A fully-clothed female secretary looks seductively out, with lips puckered. The top buttons of her blouse are unfastened. The caption reads, "Who's watching your network?"

Let's analyze these:

1. Is objectification present? Hard to say. The ad was very tastefully done. Could they have used a male model instead? Maybe but it's hard to imagine a male body with the same simple elegance, which was the message in the ad. So, the answer is probably no.
2. But, let's say for argument purposes, that female model is indeed the subject of objectification, where is the source, i.e. who objectified her? Well, no one in that ad.

1. Is objectification present? Yes, certainly. The female worker was being objectified.
2. Where is the source? The men. So is the ad sexist? Well, it didn't put the woman down as being dumb, stupid or a sex object. She didn't even know they were looking at her. In fact, she appeared to be a go-getter manager working through lunch. It painted the men as sexual beings for sure. But was the ad itself sexist?

1. Is objectification present? Yes, most definitely.
2. Who is projecting it? The secretary herself. Is the ad sexist? Oh, yes, it most definitely is. It not only portrays female secretaries as whores but it seems to imply that secretaries are a distraction to the "real," male workers. I guess network security technicians can't be women?

The primary difference between the Argentine commercial and the typical US commercial is that in the typical US commercial, the women jump out of no where, all bubbly and scantilly clad, with nothing else on their minds but to satisfy the men's desires. This type of ad is most definitely sexist, as it portrays women in a demeaning light.

However, I'm not too sure about the Argentine commercial. The expressions on the women don't give away much; it's like they're so into their ballet that they don't care about the man. At worst, they just tolerate him. Also, note that he doesn't really grope them. The man for sure was a lout but the ad?

<small>[ 17 August 2004, 12:49 AM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>

Author:  Thinkerbell [ Mon Aug 16, 2004 10:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Not that I liked it, but I'd have liked it twice as much if it had been half as long. ;)

I can't help but wonder what the girls who made the ad were thinking...About the money, perhaps? There's exposure, and then there's exposure... :p

Now, would I have done it once upon a time? Probably. *shudder*


<small>[ 17 August 2004, 12:55 AM: Message edited by: Thinkerbell ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Still wonder whether this is the right place for this discussion - it looks like an "Issue" to me.

Author:  Toba Singer [ Tue Aug 17, 2004 4:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Is it sexist to adopt your husband's name? I'm not the best person to ask, Azlan. I'd suggest making that inquiry of Alicia Martinez de Hoyo, who was forced, when she came to the U.S., to take her husband's name--Alonso. She found it ludicrous AND sexist, as in her country, the very heartland of machismo in many people's estimation, a woman kept her own name. She was stuck with that as not only her personal, but also her professional name, even after her husband and she went their separate ways. So, I guess it depends on the period in history, doesn't it? If Alicia Alonso were starting out as a dancer today, she'd more than likely be Alicia Martinez. There is no absolute rule or standard or "political correctness" that governs these questions, unless you strive to live some sort of impossible Aristotelian, ahistorical existence. These assessments have to be made in accordance with what history has achieved or lost. Is ballet sexist? Ballet is a creature of the monarchy. Is a society sexist when the heads of a succession of its queens are cut off so that a monarch can marry another queen, or women are discarded because they don't produce heirs? Yah-huh! And so it follows that its royalist dance forms will reflect sexist praxis. Does that make the dance form bad? I don't think so, or I wouldn't be here. If after two waves of pretty successful struggles for women's rights, a commercial of this type is made in order to make "real" men feel comfortable around ballet (oh, and sell beer to them--as well as to women ballet dancers?!?--Hey, let's catch them "walking by" and pull 'em into the bars, "our" men's turf), I'd say it's quite deliberately (not innocently) sexist. I'd go further and say it's part of the post-women's rights Thermidor. It offends me, but it doesn't worry me, because look at all the women who marched for abortion rights this past Spring--a record number. To me, this commercial is implicitly anti-gay, as well as anti-female (female people v. objects, that is) and the only thing about it to admire is how much reactionary propaganda can be finessed by a little spit and masking tape into such a short segment.

<small>[ 17 August 2004, 07:01 AM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

Author:  Admin [ Tue Aug 17, 2004 5:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ballet in the Eisenbeck beer ad

Since this topic's moved far afield from the type of thing we usually discuss in "Fun Stuff", it's in "Issues" now.

<small>[ 17 August 2004, 08:41 PM: Message edited by: Admin ]</small>

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