Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Manly Appetite

We see advertisements for fast food restaurants everyday; some of us may even eat the products being advertised on a daily basis. But it's just food, right? We're not conforming to gender stereotypes by eating a Whopper. Or are we? As depicted above, fast food chains often resort to selling sex as a way to sell burgers to men.

It's common to find sexuality used in marketing ploys for many different types of products. Sut Jhally explains the reasoning for this: "Advertisers, working within a 'cluttered' environment in which there are more and more messages must have a way to break through the attendant noise. Sexuality provides a resource that can be used to get attention and communicate instantly" (253). In the case of fast food burgers, the market was saturated with images of food; so to differentiate, many companies such as Burger King and Carl's Jr., began to insert images of sexuality to set their products apart.

But at some point it became not about selling food at all; why else would the images above of celebrities eating enormous hamburgers be used as a selling point? Because it is not just about selling the food, but selling sex. This is a typically masculine ideal perpetuated through the media: "... the predominant cultural message remains that a hearty appetite and a large size are desirable in a man" (Kilbourne 261). This "large size" can refer not only to portions (as you can see the burgers above are very large in size) but to a relational representation of the penis. Looking at the above ads saying "Size does matter" as well as another for a burger called the "7 Incher" designed to resemble a penis, it is clear that the connotations of the word "meat" are not lost on these advertisers. There is the underlying assumption that if these women are eating these products, it must be a way for men to get these women; it all starts with a burger. But the overall feeling in these ads is that men really have an appetite for two things: food and sex. And now fast food advertisers have found ways to sell both.

Works Cited

Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture." 1990. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Ed. Gail Dines & Jean M. Humez. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 249-257.

Kilbourne, Jean. "'The More You Subtract, The More You Add:' Cutting Girls Down to Size." 1999. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Ed. Gail Dines & Jean M. Humez. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 258-267.

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