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.