Tag Archives: media

The Sweet King: Chocolate in the Modern Media Age

With the rise of food media in the modern age, there are countless avenues through which we are exposed to the most avant-garde of gastronomy. From the massive influx of visual information on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to the constant features of shows on Netflix and The Food Network, food has captured attention far beyond its functionality utility of nourishing and sustaining the human populace. This effect has only been reinforced with the globalization of certifications for the most prestigious of restaurants and businesses in the world. The moment that Michelin adjusts its stars, San Pellegrino announces its 50-Best list, or the James Beard Foundation names its honorees, the modern media swarms to cover stories around these businesses to highlight what distinguished each establishment from the huge field of competitors. Given the increased emphasis on food within the modern media age, food occupies an extremely powerful point of influence for pushing specific agendas.

Historically, chocolate has always occupied a controversial space in terms of media representation. Since chocolate first emerged in Europe as a highly sought-after commodity and then became a delicacy appreciated by the masses, there have been a fair share of scandals experienced by chocolate producers, despite the global addiction and appreciation for the product. Given the complex process and numerous entities which chocolate production requires, chocolate producing companies are under incredible scrutiny for the ethics behind their product production, and this sentiment has largely continued into the modern media age. Furthermore, while chocolate has yet to shed its historical baggage in terms of its production process, there are numerous agendas committed to improving upon this practice that aim to shed a more positive image of the product, while bringing about tangible change in the chocolate industry. Therefore, chocolate serves as the perfect case study for an examination on the historical role of media and the development of the practice into the modern age. Despite its immense history, the narrative of chocolate is still being written.

Early Media History of Chocolate

There are limited written records that can commentate on the history of cacao associated with its endemic regions in Latin and South America. However, there are several artifacts that serve as “media” in terms of documenting the significance of the ingredient and the practice. Due to modern archeological techniques, the Rio Azul vessel has been characterized to contain certain compounds present within cacao such as theobromine, while also having the Mayan hieroglyphics for cacao (Stuart 2009, Coe 2013). This piece constitutes historical media as the hieroglyphics displayed on the vessel would be presented for ceremonial events (Stuart 2009). However, as other forms of historical media are still being discovered or were not preserved, it is difficult to assess the extent to which media associated with cacao propagated the indigenous populations, but there was media for the sake of documentation and ceremonial purposes.

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The Rio Azul Vessel represents one of the earliest indications of chocolate and media interacting (Image via Hollis).

While Hernan Cortes is commonly attributed with the movement of cacao and thus chocolate to Europe in the 16th century, there appears to be a lack of media documentation during this time period (Coe 2013). This lack of documentation is likely related to limited accessibility to sources in this time frame and thus cannot be thoroughly examined within this essay. Starting in the mid-17th century, an abundance of media sources became accessible in terms of disturbing the preparation of a wide array of exotic foods such as chocolate, coffee, and tea. Within France and Spain, chocolate consumption appears to have become a ubiquitous practice as it is represented in many texts that were released (Coe 2013). These texts purported the health benefits of cacao and chocolate, while also presenting numerous methods of preparation that would make it more palatable (Colmenero 1640).

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As these texts represent early presentations of chocolate within Europe, there is a focus on emphasizing the exoticism of these products through imagery and descriptions of their indigenous use cases (Dufour 1671). Additionally, as the media was intended to encourage further consumption of cacao and chocolate, these articles encourage the literate population to partake in the exotic goods as there are innumerable benefits from coughs to indigestion (Colmenero 1640, Dufour 1671). However, as addressed by Coe, chocolate consumption took substantially longer to become normalized within Great Britain (Coe 2013). This can be clearly observed within the texts are it is clearly indicated the original documents for these media pieces were translated media from Spain and France (Crook 1685). Therefore, through following the translation and distribution of media within the Europe, the popularization of chocolate can be followed in a precise manner.

Drama in Chocolate Paradise

As chocolate became increasingly popular within Europe, there were numerous innovations that allowed for its rising accessibility. With innovations such as the Dutch process by Van Houten, conching by Lindt, and milk chocolate by Peter, chocolate was mass producible and thus while still a luxury, was consumed by a substantial proportional of the population (Coe 2013). Accompanying the rise in chocolate availability, numerous social movements emerged in Europe such as the abolition of slavery, which subsequently resulted in increased awareness on ethical business practices (Satre 2005). Through the increased interest in business morality, cacao farms and chocolate factories became a focal point for media scrutiny.

The most infamous case of media involvement was introduced by Henry Nevinson through an article and subsequent book on slavery-like conditions observed in São Tomé and Príncipe on cacao farms (Nevinson 1906). These cacao farms were primarily managed by the Cadbury chocolate company, which was founded on morale Quaker values, so the cries of possible slavery on their farms was incredibly problematic. As the article and book by Nevinson circulated throughout Great Britain, where Cadbury was headquartered, there were countless cries for Cadbury to stop sourcing their chocolate from São Tomé and Príncipe or risk being boycotted by the general populace (Satre 2005). To exacerbate the issue, Portugal which owned São Tomé and Príncipe had banned slavery in the islands earlier and therefore insisted that the report did not accurately reflect the conditions labeled on the island (Higgs 2012). In response to these circumstances, Cadbury deployed their own reporter, Joseph Burtt, to assess the situation, under slightly different pretenses as he was instructed to amicably engage with plantation owners (Satre 2005, Higgs 2012). As this scandal increased in intensity, Cadbury sued newspapers such as The Standard for libel but ultimately did stop importing cacao from São Tomé and Príncipe (Satre 2005). Regardless of the actual reason Cadbury decided to boycott this cacao, it demonstrates the immense power of media and chocolate on a national and international scale.

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Various news outlets covered the response of Cadbury to the slavery allegations (Image from The African Mail via Hollis).

While media played a role in terms of maintaining accountability of the Cadbury cacao farms within São Tomé and Príncipe, there were additional instances of media playing a supplementary role in facilitating advertising and sales for chocolate purveyors. The rigid but benevolent life of Milton Hershey and the Hershey chocolate company demonstrates the possibility of positive media reinforcing the narrative behind a product. Hershey was a disciplined and compassionate individual who sought to provide for those less fortunate in his environment (D’Antonio 2007). As part of his personal quest, a model town was constructed in Hershey, Pennsylvania to accommodate the needs of the factory and provide a safe and hospitable environment for the local community. Furthermore, when Hershey expanded sugar facilities into Cuba, the company was praised immensely for the quality of the development and the sustainable business practices (The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer 1920). Through features in numerous periodicals, the model town in Hershey, Pennsylvania and the Hershey’s chocolate factory became nationally and internationally recognized as the gold-standard for effective operations (Young 1923, Times 1928, Times 1933). The success of this positive media campaign can be observed during the peak of the Great Depression as demonstrated by an increase in profit margins, due to the unique advertising strategy of relying on word of mouth and media coverage (Allen 1932). Essentially, this indicates that through leveraging the media, the Hershey’s Chocolate company was able to forego substantial advertising, while retaining premium status of its products. The media played a crucial role not only in maintaining business ethics but also in establishing positive agendas within the chocolate industry during its development.

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Milton Hershey built a business that relied on positive media and word of mouth to spread the product. (Image from Wikimedia)

Chocolate in the Modern Media

Moving into the modern age, there is almost an overabundance of media that is available, which presents a unique challenge as the user can curate their own opinions regarding products like chocolate. Therefore, the utilization of media must be strategic and diverse to appeal to specific interests of users but also be sufficiently applicable that a wide array of viewers could be drawn in. Despite the excessive number of media options, chocolate remains at the focal point of food media as numerous individuals within the field are leveraging their positions to improve the state of the cacao and chocolate production.

Chocolate Smudges on Pen and Keyboard

            Following in the footsteps of Nevinson and other chocolate journalists, cacao and chocolate have remained at the forefront of food writing. Articles that feature chocolate and cacao are often highlighted on major media outlets such as The New York Times and Washington Post, which demonstrates a continued interest for a broad audience. Furthermore, the creation of boutique food magazines such as The Lucky Peach and online food platforms like Eater have made accessing musings about the guilty pleasure even easier. However, that is not to say that the issues surrounding chocolate and cacao have deviated immensely from the past.

Given the global nature of the chocolate industry, historically, it was difficult for journalists to fully engage with every party involved. Therefore, while certain situations such as the Cadbury situation in São Tomé and Príncipe were exposed, many others likely slipped beneath the radar. As the world has become more interconnected and accessible, many of the problems that plague cacao and chocolate production have come to light. Starting from the beginning of chocolate production on the cacao farms, numerous media outlets have exposed that horrific conditions that workers often experience alongside issues with child labor (Romero 2009, O’Keefe 2016). Despite numerous instances that have raised these problems in the past, the chocolate industry has yet to address these problems in a constitutive manner. However, through raising awareness of these issues on a broader scale, the hope within media is to inspire groups to act and address these problems.

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Child labor is still a problem plaguing the chocolate industry. (Image from Wikimedia)

 

Alongside the continued discussion on labor concerns within the chocolate industry, another vestige of the chocolate past is discussions on the purported health benefits associated with chocolate. The healthy discussion surrounding chocolate has continued in the modern age as various “experts” with the field attempt to leverage their authority for the sake of pushing their respective agendas. Media outlets basically constantly contradict themselves through the slew of articles published in both support and dissent for the health benefits associated with chocolate (Oaklander 2014, Drayer 2018). Therefore, while the narrative has shifted from the historical perspective that cacao and chocolate having almost magical therapeutic properties, the jury is out on the current state of the field. Due to the immense amount of media content that is available, there is the unfortunate consequence that the true nature of chocolate is diluted. While each viewer has the privilege of establishing their own opinion towards chocolate and cacao, it becomes increasingly more challenging to distill the truth.

Ready, Set, Chocolate!

While traditional forms of media such as newspapers and journals remain influential, newer forms of visual media have become increasingly prominent and preferred to primarily text-based articles. From TV shows to documentaries and from Youtube series to Netflix features, the number of video-based chocolate media has also reached incredible levels with the profound advantage of providing a glimpse into the reality behind situations beyond words. Even after disregarding the innumerable recipes and delectable showcases of chocolate, videos and visual representations play a pivotal role in highlighting the production process and issues that surround the chocolate market.

In line with written media, video content has been utilized extensively to challenge the chocolate industry and condemn problematic practices of cacao farming. Numerous documentaries have been released that demonstrate instances of child labor and abuse on cacao plantations, but also reveal the context for why the practice occurs. In Brazil, while cacao farming is relatively smaller in scale, it is apparent that the use of underage labor stagnates the progression of youth within the state (Papel Social 2019). Within numerous African countries, the child labor problem within the cacao industry is even more rampart as there are further indications of abused and forced labor (Romano 2010, O’Keefe 2016). However, this issue presents a conundrum because child labor is almost necessitated in both of these situations to provide sufficient income for the families at large. As these pieces of videography highlight the labor issues surrounding the chocolate industry, it demonstrates the prominence of this issue, while providing a more visually compelling argument for the viewer.

The Cocoa Route from Papel Social on Vimeo.

While many negative aspects of chocolate production have been revealed through video media, through visualizing the whole process of cacao farming, there are numerous movements by leading chefs and food personalities within the world that aim to inspire change through chocolate.On Parts Unknown, the enigmatic chef, Anthony Bourdain, explored the reaches of indigenous Peru and was inspired by the discovery of white cacao beans (Bourdain 2013).

By engaging with these local purveyors, Bourdain and Eric Ripert, head chef of Le Bernadin, collaborated with Eclat chocolate to create the “Good and Evil” chocolate bar, based on sustainable production of a unique ingredient (Eclat Chocolate 2013). Other prominent chefs have taken advantage of their media opportunities to promise similar movements for the chocolate industry.

Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert discuss Good & Evil Chocolate Bar from Eclat Chocolate on Vimeo.

Joan Roca, the head chef of El Celler de Can Roca, spoke regarding compassionate cooking and mentioned his goal to build a sustainable chocolate company within Spain (Roca 2017). As his family restaurant remains number one in the world on San Pellegrino’s 50-best List, Roca is leveraging his position at the pinnacle of food to improve the chocolate industry further (Jenkins 2018). Given the profound interest in food video media, it is reassuring that numerous prominent figures chose chocolate as their method of instigating change within the world.

Chocolate in Focus

            Chocolate is one of the world’s most intriguing topics for media coverage due to the complex nature of its production and ubiquitous appreciation around the world. Through a historical and modern examination of media representations of chocolate, it is apparent that chocolate serves as a controversial platform for raising awareness to sociopolitical issues. Despite its ambivalent history and problematic present, chocolate will always be in the media spotlight. In this modern media age, there is a surplus of information for each user to establish their individual stances on chocolate, but effective media efforts have pushed the narrative towards making the chocolate industry more ethical and sustainable.

 

References

Allen, E. E. (1932). Hershey Chocolate’s Success: Turning Smaller Volume Into Increasing Profits–This Year’s First Quarter Not So Good. Barron’s (1921-1942); Boston, Mass., p. 22.

Boudain, Anthony and CNN. (2013). Peru: Anthony Bourdain sees source of rare white cacao beans (Parts Unknown). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v064HmUSJNg

Central Hershey. (1920). The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer (1888-1924); New Orleans, 64(7), 108–111.

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The true history of chocolate (Third edition). London: Thames & Hudson.

Colmenero de Ledesma, A. (1640). A curious treatise of the nature and quality of chocolate. VVritten in Spanish by Antonio Colmenero, doctor in physicke and chirurgery. And put into English by Don Diego de Vades-forte. Imprinted at London : By I. Okes, dwelling in Little St. Bartholomewes, 1640.

Colmenero de Ledesma, A. (1652). Chocolate: or, An Indian drinke. By the wise and moderate use whereof, health is preserved, sicknesse diverted, and cured, especially the plague of the guts; vulgarly called the new disease; fluxes, consumptions, & coughs of the lungs, with sundry other desperate diseases. By it also, conception is caused, the birth hastened and facilitated, beauty gain’d and continued. / Written originally in Spanish, by Antonio Colminero of Ledesma, Doctor in Physicke, and faithfully rendred in the English, by Capt. James Wadsworth. London, : Printed by J.G. for Iohn Dakins, dwelling neare the Vine Taverne in Holborne, where this tract, together with the chocolate it selfe, may be had at reasonable rates., 165[2].

D’Antonio, M. (2007). Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s extraordinary life of wealth, empire, and utopian dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Dufour, P. S., Colmenero de Ledesma, A., & Chamberlayne, J. (1685). The manner of making coffee, tea, and chocolate as it is used in most parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America / newly done out of French and Spanish. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6km558

Dufour, P. S., Dufour, P. S., Colmenero de Ledesma, A., & Marradon, B. (1685). Traitez nouveaux & curieux du café, du thé, et du chocolate. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/9ToUT7

Eclat Chocolate (2013). Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert discuss Good & Evil Chocolate Bar. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from Vimeo website: https://vimeo.com/54406874

Higgs, C. (2013). Chocolate islands: cocoa, slavery, and colonial Africa.

Jenkins T. (2018). Take a Look at the Roca Brothers’ New Chocolate Factory. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from Fine Dining Lovers website: https://www.finedininglovers.com/blog/news-trends/casa-cacao-girona-roca

Mathon, M. (1911). Angola-San Thomé Labour. The African Mail, p. 263. Retrieved from Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

McNeil, C. L. (Ed.). (2006). Chocolate in Mesoamerica: a cultural history of cacao. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Oaklander, M (2014). Should I Eat Dark Chocolate? Retrieved May 3, 2019, from Time website: http://time.com/3593624/benefits-of-dark-chocolate/

O’Keefe, B. (2016). Inside Big Chocolate’s Child Labor Problem. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from Fortune website: http://fortune.com/big-chocolate-child-labor/

Papel Social (2019). The Cocoa Route. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/332509945

Romano, Robin. (2010). Documentary. The Dark Side Of Chocolate. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vfbv6hNeng

Roca, J. (2017). The World’s 50 Best Restaurants & 50 Best Bars.  Joan Roca on why cooking is caring at #50BestTalks. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOp5PkVMt4c

Romero, S. (2009, July 28). In Venezuela, Plantations of Cacao Stir Bitterness. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/world/americas/29cacao.html

Satre, L. J. (2005). Chocolate on trial: slavery, politics, and the ethics of business (1st ed). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Times, S. C. to T. N. Y. (1933). CUBA HONORS HERSHEY.: Machado Bestows Highest Honor on Chocolate Manufacturer. New York Times, p. 15.

Times, S. to T. N. Y. (1928). Hershey Gives $2,000,000 Community Centre To Pennsylvania Village He Has Built Up. New York Times, p. 1.

Young, J. C. (1923). HERSHEY, UNIQUE PHILANTHROPIST: His Munificent Gift to Orphan Boys a Long Cherished Idea. New York Times, p. XX4.

 

Naughty but Nice: Gendered Sexualization in Chocolate Advertising

Chocolate is recognized as one of the most craved foods in the world, resulting in the coinage of terms such as chocoholic or chocolate addict. However, going from targeted marketing by most chocolate companies around the world, one would assume that the majority of the chocolate addicts or chocoholics were, women. As soon as a woman takes her first bite, in an advertisement, a sense of ecstasy follows triggered by the chocolate, invariably showing the relationship between women’s sexual pleasure and chocolate. Women’s sexual pleasure, much like the attitude towards chocolate, is considered sinful; the juxtaposition of these two views woven into narratives through chocolate commercials, only solidifies the concept of “naughty but nice” as they objectify women sexually while they are consuming chocolate.

Women tend to be sexually depicted in commercials in two ways, one, in which women are aroused by consuming chocolate, or two, women become attractive to men after they consume chocolate. Below are examples of two ads from Dove and Godiva that exemplify these two categories of portrayal of women in chocolate advertising. 


In both the commercials, chocolate is seen as a sinful treat that women consume. In the first Dove commercial, a woman is being wrapped in chocolate coloured silk as she sighs and savors the luxury of consuming chocolate whilst being wrapped around by a luxurious fabric. It is depicting the after effects of consuming the chocolate whilst showing what a privilege it is to be able to consume chocolate. The background music and noises further alludes to the effect of sexual arousal post consumption and the use of silk in the commercial shows luxury and class, and at the same time, it represents a material that is often used to portray sex. In the Godiva commercial, three women are shown in three different locations wearing long dresses that represent three kinds of Godiva chocolates; dark, milk and white. Three men can be seen gifting chocolates to the women, which in turn sexually arouses the women and thus excites the men. It is interesting to note that the commercial does not show men consuming the chocolate, but only women. In one instance in the commercial, one of the women almost shares the chocolate with the man but then teases him as she eats the whole truffle herself, because she just cannot share it or resist it.

Professor Peter Rogers, from the University of Bristol, explains: “A more compelling explanation lies in our ambivalent attitudes towards chocolate – it is highly desired but should be eaten with restraint”, he further states that “Our unfulfilled desire to eat chocolate, resulting from restraint, is thus experienced as craving, which in turn is attributed to ‘addiction’.” (Rogers, 2007) Women in the above commercials depict this relationship of resistance and indulgence with chocolate, not only through the consumption of chocolate itself but also through their sexual desires. Due to the perception that “nice” women and their sexual pleasures should be restrained as opposed to men’s sexual pleasures, chocolate gives them the narrative, the chance of indulgence, and gives them the opportunity to be “naughty”. Chocolate then starts to show women’s relationship with their own sexual desires, that relies on chocolate to be fueled.

Chocolate, then hence is portrayed to being the food for women by commercials. In contrast, a Burger King commercial shows meat as the food for men, aptly titled “I am Man”. The commercial shows men eating burgers while chanting socially accepted norms that make them men; these are men who are strong and can lift cars and pull heavy weights, men who cannot survive on “chick food” such as quiche. Commercials such as the one by Hungry Man, as well as Mc Donald’s McRib advertisement, show only men, consuming meat products. When catered to men such as the ones that are shown in these commercials, chocolate becomes delicate and feminine. When contrasted, meat becomes the socially accepted food for men while chocolate becomes the socially accepted food for women. 

Without any concrete scientific evidence, chocolate is now widely believed to be craved by women more than men. Dr. Julia Hormes from University of Albany states in her study published in Appetite in 2011 that “half of the women [in the U.S.] who crave chocolate say they do so right around menstruation,”. (Hormes, 2011) Hormes’s study tried to correlate menstruation with chocolate craving however, she arrived at the conclusion that “These biochemical, physiological hypotheses didn’t pan out.”  (Hormes, 2011) Hormes believes that the strong influence of culture, particularly the kind portrayed in commercials plays a role in how women tend to react to chocolate.

In an interview with Kate Bratskeir of Huffington Post, Hormes talks about chocolate marketing, she says;

“Chocolate is marketed as a way for women to deal with negative emotion (like, say, the stress and headaches that come with PMS), Hormes said. It is an “indulgence” because it is an exception to the rule — women who diet and subscribe to a certain ideal of beauty should only consume chocolate when they “need” it.”…“Only in America. In Spain, for example, women don’t report craving chocolate perimensturally nearly as much as women in the U.S. do. It’s not that Spanish women have a different make-up to their cycle, it’s really that tampon and chocolate ads aren’t aired during the same commercial break. In the U.S., it seems, there’s something so strongly feminine about chocolate that fewer men report wanting it. But, “Spanish men are almost as likely to crave chocolate as Spanish women.” In Egypt, neither men nor women really report craving chocolate; “They tend to crave savory foods,” Hormes said.” (Hormes, 2011)

The need that is described above by Hormes is a culturally manufactured one that is fabricated through commercials showing women needing chocolates, specially when it comes to sex.

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Ferrero Rocher Print ad. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/02/guest-post-sex-desire-and-chocolate-propaganda-research/

Chocolate advertisements not only play into women’s sexual desires but also women’s body image and various insecurities. The above print ad from Ferrero Rocher shows a naked model being tempted by chocolates that are growing from the tree. The ad is attaching the narrative of Eve and the forbidden fruit to chocolate, depicting this woman as a “sinner” for consuming chocolate and having sexual desires. The ad also shows a skinny model indulging in the sinful act of consuming chocolate. The inclusion of a model, gives off an image that makes it okay for women of regular sizes to indulge in chocolate. It shows that women can still be thin and be naughty, and consume chocolate as a guilty pleasure. While talking about the relationship of female body image and chocolate marketing, in his paper, Occidental College student, Jamal Fahim writes,

In order to remain slim and attractive, women must avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories. Images of the ideal body have permeated the minds of many consumers who are inclined to view the body as an object of admiration and a model for self-construction. Moreover, consumer goods may serve to compensate for a person’s “feelings of inferiority, insecurity or loss, or to symbolize achievement, success or power” (Campbell 1995:111)”.

Image
Dove Print ad. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/02/guest-post-sex-desire-and-chocolate-propaganda-research/

Chocolate companies tend to play up various different feelings that Campbell described whilst talking about consumer products, however in most cases those feelings within the wide spectrum from insecurity to success are usually related to sex and women in chocolate advertising. The print Dove advertisement above, for example, associates itself with an insecurity that is often linked with sex, lasting longer. The ad compares indulging the Dove bar to lasting longer while showing the face of a woman who is satisfied.

All the advertisements mentioned above adds to the misconception of chocolate as an aphrodisiac and that it works more on women. The New York Times article, tries to evaluate this claim stating;

“Nowadays, scientists ascribe the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate, if any, to two chemicals it contains. One, tryptophan, is a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal. The other, phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine, is released in the brain when people fall in love. But most researchers believe that the amounts of these substances in chocolate are too small to have any measurable effect on desire. Studies that have looked for a direct link between chocolate consumption and heightened sexual arousal have found none. The most recent study, published in May in the journal Sexual Medicine, looked specifically at women, who are thought to be more sensitive to the effects of chocolate. The researchers, from Italy, studied a random sample of 163 adult women with an average age of 35 and found no significant differences between reported rates of sexual arousal or distress among those who regularly consumed one serving of chocolate a day, those who consumed three or more servings or those who generally consumed none.” (O’ Connor, 2006)

The article concludes by stating that, “if chocolate has any aphrodisiac qualities, they are probably psychological, not physiological” (O’ Connor, 2006).

This psychological perception of chocolate and sex is one that is manufactured by chocolate advertising bringing out various themes that are associated with female sexuality starting from the perception that female sexual desires are akin to a sin, to body image issues that perpetuates women’s need to be slim to various other insecurities associated with sex such as lasting longer or overall satisfaction. Even though the findings and correlation between chocolate and sex are negligible, the marketing for chocolate continues to perpetuate chocolate’s association with sex and its implied special relevance to women’s sexuality as it plays into societal expectations from women, that require them to be and make them more attractive if they are “naughty but nice”.

Work Cited:

Bratskeir, Kate. “This Is Why Women Crave Chocolate, Men Want A Burger” Huffington Post. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/chocolate-craving-pms-men-vegetables_n_6102714.html&gt;

Campbell, Colin. 1995. “The Sociology of Consumption.” Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies. London, England: Routledge.

Fahim, Jamal, “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing”. 2010. Sociology Student Scholarship <http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student&gt;

Hormes, Julia M, Alix Timko. “All cravings are not created equal. Correlates of menstrual versus non-cyclic chocolate craving”. Appetite. Vol 57. 2011. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21440592&gt;

Lindell, C.  Women and chocolate: A history lesson. Candy Industry, 180(3), 21. 2015

O’Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac”. The New York Times. 2006. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/18real.html&gt;

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire. New York: Manchester UP, 2009. 

University of Bristol. “Chocolate Is The Most Widely Craved Food, But Is It Really Addictive?.” ScienceDaily. September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911073921.htm>.

 

Chasing Perfection

Since the 1940s chocolate advertising has largely been dominated by stereotyped and hypersexualized images of women, or sexualized images of men FOR women4. They depict women with a lack of self-control, of women caving to their ‘guilty’ pleasures, of women giving in to the temptation and sins of chocolate4. This form of advertising, however, has consequences that go beyond its blatantly offensive stereotypes. Such highly gendered advertising perpetuates images of perfection that in turn create impossible standards. The resulting culture is one of indulgence and shame that often has extremely negative consequences. To combat the negative imagery that exists in advertising, there needs to be a shift, where women are portrayed as inspirations of a healthy lifestyle that encourages moderation instead of guilt and perfection.

Impossible Standards

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Dove Chocolate Advertisement (1)

“A six-pack that melts a girl’s heart.” This ad often appears in critiques of chocolate advertising. It shows the abs of what appears to be a black male, clearly edited and enhanced. The ad makes reference to the temptation of the male body for women in the same way that chocolate also tempts women. This reinforces the stereotype that women are both sex crazed and obsessed with chocolate; a stereotype that is largely a consequence of chocolate’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities4. But I would like to dig a little further into the effects of this ad. To sell the product, the advertisement compares Dove chocolate to this impossibly perfect male figure. The association begins with women, who are clearly the target of this ad, desiring this perfect male figure. His figure dominates the visual space of the ad, filling the image with a picture of desire for women. The attention then focuses to the bottom right hand corner, to the bar of chocolate. This bar and the figure have the same coloring, the same editing, and even the same shaping. This resemblance serves to create an immediate association between the man that is desirable and the chocolate, thereby making that chocolate desirable. The text at the bottom is the final focus, since it is small print that blends into the coloring of the picture, which serves to reinforce the association between this “perfect” man and thus the perfect chocolate that all women are supposed to want desperately. This ad plays to the sexual desires of women as well as their insecurities about body image and its implications for actually being in a relationship with the perfect man. This ad has two major implications: 1) it is created based on the idea that women must desire the ‘perfect’ man who is represented by singularly physical (and unattainable) attributes and 2) that men do the “melting” while women are the ones who are “melted”, reinforcing a hetero-normative sexual hierarchy that chocolate advertising has long perpetuated. As well there is a distinct contradiction at work- the male figure is perfect in this ad, thereby selling the chocolate to women. However, according to mainstream media, to get the perfect man, women shouldn’t being eating chocolate because they too need a perfect body! Such impossible standards and contradictions breed a culture that shames women and places them into an inferior relationship with the men around them.

Inspiration

The entire purpose of advertisements is to make consumers buy a product. But in ads like the Dove ad above, marketers are inflicting a ridiculous cultural stigma onto customers with potentially very damaging effects. In a 2009 study, researchers found that women who were exposed to advertisements that used thin models were more likely to avoid chocolate2. The counter to this avoidance was that the women then experienced extreme cravings for chocolate since they were intentionally depriving themselves of it, leading to excessive indulgence and feelings of guilt and shame2. The study concluded that this could be a possible link to a culture of eating disorders brought on by the exposure to the advertisements2. The Dove ad that uses a male model may be less directly correlated to female eating disorders, but it still has massive psychological effects and contributes to the impossible standard that is present in our culture.

Blog Post 3 climbing ad picture
Original  Advertisement created for the Chocolate Class Blog (5)

As a response to such negative and damaging advertising, I created an ad that featured images of the top female rock climbers in the world. I chose pictures that intentionally showed them doing their sport rather than modeling. My purpose in including them was to inspire rather than demoralize women. These women constitute several generations of ground breaking female athletes at the top of their sport, competing and often ahead of their male counterparts. These pictures show their skill and strength rather than objectifying them. The accompanying slogan is a direct response to the previous reference that only males have six-packs and muscles. Additionally I think that despite our crazy guilt over what NOT to eat, chocolate can have a healthy place in our diet. In moderation, it can in fact be a very positive food, and not just an indulgence to an irrational craving. By showing that real women eat chocolate on a daily basis as part of a balanced diet serves to encourage a healthy lifestyle that is not fraught by a binge and purge mentality.

Reality

Ads that encourage healthy habits instead of guilt and impossible standards do actually exist in the world of advertising. In an ad for JoJo’s chocolate bark (a homemade dark chocolate snack), we encounter a woman with an inspirational story who is simply trying to live a healthier lifestyle after a close call with cancer. Additionally, the ad features a woman and a man who do cross fit and eat the bark, showing its benefits as well as showing real unedited people who live a healthy active life. While not entirely rid of stereotypes (white woman in her kitchen, making chocolate that her son likes to eat… sounds eerily similar to the original housewife ads of Cadbury and Rowntree) I think it is a step in the right direction. Ads like this will help to break the relationship between women and the stereotypes of guilty eating and hypersexualization, as well as help to make chocolate a part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

 

References

  1. Dove Chocolate. Dove Chocolate Ads and Commercials Archive, Seoul. Ed. Mars, INC.
  2. Durkin, K., and K. Rae. “P02-53 Women and Chocolate Advertising: Exposure to Thin Models Exacerbates Ambivalence.” European Psychiatry1 (2009): S743. Doi:10.1016/S0924-9338(09)70976-9. Web.
  3. Food Creators. “JoJo’s Chocolate: Cure the Craving”. Youtube. Dec.22, 2014. Web.
  4. Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.
  5. Photos used to make the advertisement
    1. Abshire, Megan. SBC at ABS Nationals. 2015. Rock and Ice the Climbing Magazine, Colorado Springs.
    2. Burcham, John. A Female Rock Climber in Joshua Tree National Park, California. National Geographic Creative. Sports, Joshua Tree National Park.
    3. Patagonia Climbing Ambassador, Lynn Hill. 1993. Patagonia, Ventura, Ca.

Pseudoscience, Pseudoreality, and Subjectivity in the Natural Sweetener Debate

Cadbury
The picture of “purity” soon to be equated with “Natural”

William Cadbury was no stranger to the influence that the media could have on a business’s image, particularly if the business was involved in unscrupulous dealings and production practices (Coe & Coe, 242-245). Control of the media and the terminology used in the media gave Cadbury a competitive advantage (Higgs, 133-165). Cadbury, like many other corporations, began hard campaigns amongst the public to discredit rivals, demand apologies for libel, and promote the supposed health and purity of their products (Satre, 13-32) (Higgs, 133-165) (Coe & Coe, 242-245). Cadbury’s subjective reconstruction of the definition of “slavery” on the Sao Tome chocolate plantations laid the framework for future strategic definition terminology manipulation when profits and business image would be effected (Satre, 1-32). The use of the media in the definition of “natural” terminology by American agro-business and their rivals follows Cadbury’s example of media manipulation (Corn Refiners Association, 2016) (Minton, 2014). Ambiguity of the FDA’s definition of “natural” and their reluctance to harden this definition has allowed special interest groups and amateur bloggers to perpetuate a culture of pseudoscience and misuse of information through multiple media outlets since the controversy first broke out (“Meaning of ‘Natural'”,2016).

 

Early newspapers were America’s predominant method for access to “reliable information” regarding “natural” food production.  Yet since its advent, in America, newspapers have been used to publish invalidated data and facts under loose or non-existent federal legislation concerning proper documentation and verification procedures (“Shield Law”, 2016). Since Yellow-journalism rose to prominence in the mid-1800’s, a sensationalist style of reporting became the norm in media portrayal of nearly any subject matter (Office of the Historian, 2016). This style gave a small, special interest minority the power to control information flow and access to the public (Wright & Rogers, 2010). Special interest information flow created public ignorance and enabled special interest propaganda (Wright & Rogers, 2010). Even public health was up to the discretion of the media owners, as to what they would and wouldn’t publish, particularly if they were also investors or owners of a company polluting public health (Coe & Coe, 243-245). Even the reporting of “facts” in the news is not without its consequences, as in the libel case of Cadbury Brothers Limited v. the Standard (emphasis mine); which awarded Cadbury with a legal precedent against itself being defamed, even with proper factual verification of Cadbury’s purchasing of slave produced cacao (Higgs,133-152). The problems with newspaper articles are: they lack factual verification requirements; lack peer-review processes (to catch factual or interpretation errors); cater to special interest group agendas (subjectivity through objectivity); lack source citations for the mass public to verify the facts autonomously; and professional newspapers do not speak for the public voice (even though some claim to) (Wright & Rogers, 2010).

The Lyrics in this song discuss the blinding effect that mass media has on the public.

Radio stations and broadcasts have the exact same problems as newspapers (Wright & Rogers, 2010). Radio did offer new opportunities for discourse concerning public health (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013). With radio, political debates could now be heard first-hand rather than reading second-hand (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013) (Wright & Rogers, 2010). This gave the public more agency to come to their own conclusions about public health policies (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013). Yet this unprecedented access still struggled with factual verification (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013). The public had little means by which to verify claims made by the radio or newspapers, even when made by so-called scientists (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013). Little can be known about who, what, where, and when the facts were collected or under what conditions they were analyzed. As the telephone was invented, the ability to call into radio stations and ask questions stirred up trouble for special interest groups, who had a near monopoly on information traffic (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013). Callers could now debate with the radio hosts and their guests to poke holes in arguments, and question motivations and agendas (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013). Eventually more radio stations were created and the science (or pseudoscience) became lost in hundreds of talk shows, advertisements, and music (“Radio’s Basic Problems”, 2013).

Television (1920’s) was the next medium by which information could reach the American public (Stephens, 2016). Food advertisements became misleading particularly when there were no regulations about how foods were described (“Meaning of ‘Natural'”, 2016). All “natural” ingredients and public polling engendered a level of trust in brand  names and terminology (Coe & Coe, 242-245) (Stephens, 2016). Companies could claim that ingredients were “natural” in-name-only; the origin of some of the ingredients were a company secret (Coca-Cola), or they were simply synthetically produced from genetically modified foodstuffs (which are “natural” as they are “biologically” produced) (“Vault of the Secret Formula”, 2016). News shows use even looser fact verification in the interest of being the first to cover a story (Mortensen, 2011) (“Definition of News Ticker in English”, 2016). Television also enabled non-news television shows to air, which garnered a larger audience (Stephens, 2016). These shows could often have “natural” subtext that could indicate a writer’s, often satirical, attempt to inform their viewers of a new factoid (Stephens, 2016). Yet even these subtextual shows were not without censorship, from private entities not wanting to be slandered or special interest groups that would pull financial support from shows that could pull focus away from their agendas (Number, 2010).

Please start video at 1:14.

 

The Internet (1960’s) was not initially of much use to anyone until the 1990’s and the invention of the World Wide Web (Andrews, 2013). This new form of information enabled special interest groups to reach straight into the homes of Americans (Andrews, 2013). The combination of newspapers, radio, and television accessibility through the internet created a storm of pseudoscientific articles which in-kind created hosts of new special interest groups to lobby against them with their own pseudoscientific articles (“Bonvie, 2014) (“Corn Syrup”, 2016). Social-media and multi-media sites enabled any American with internet access to engage with all this information (Leiter, 2006). Blogs became a major outlet for individuals to expression opinions and attempt to

chex_vanilla
This picture is a subject of much controversy after lawsuits were settled about subversive labeling.

root them in “fact”(Leiter, 2006) The pro/con High Fructose Corn Syrup debate has raged throughout blogs with claims that it is “natural” or un-natural, citing equally unverified pseudoscientific research whilst largely ignoring empirical academic scholarship (Landa, 2012) (Barrett, 2014) (Leiter, 2006). Even sites such as Consumer Reports have documented the mass “natural” definition confusion (Consumer, 2014) (Collins, 2014). Blogging constitutes the most dangerous form of unregulated pseudoscience. Facebook debates and Twitter outbursts on the definition of “natural” are often uncited (Leiter, 2006).

 

The “natural” debate has polarized the food industry and perpetuated ignorance of the dictionary definition (Leiter, 2006). The FDA refuses to define “natural,” which would obligate the government to enforce it (U.S.F.D.A., 2016). Agro-business lobbies against a definition since they constantly attempt to get negatively stigmatized, “un-natural” ingredients relabeled to disguise themselves again as “natural”(Landa, 2012). Even the opposite special interest groups have an economic bone to pick, especially if they invest in farms/businesses that already cater to their “natural” definition (Settlement Agreement, 2016).

“Natural” must be defined by the FDA in order to maintain a health standard across America (“‘Natural’ on Food”,2015). Until the FDA officially recognizes “natural” foodstuffs by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition, all subsequent constructions of “natural” are all equally subjective (Natural, 2015) (Leiter, 2006). The public must consider all possible sources and biases when contact with any information is made, even when it comes from a “credible” source (Leiter, 2006).

Bibliography

“About High Fructose Corn Syrup – Corn Refiners Association.” 2016. Corn Refiners Association. Corn Refiners Association. http://corn.org/products/sweeteners/high-fructose-corn-syrup/.

Andrews, Evan. 2013. “Who Invented the Internet?” History.Com. A&E Television Networks. December 18. http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/who-invented-the-internet.

Barrett, Mike. 2014. “Mega-Corp Using GMO Ingredients Forced To Drop ‘100% Natural’ Labels.” Natural Society. Natural Society. November 25. http://naturalsociety.com/general_mills-gmo-ingredients-forced-drop-100-natural-labels/.

Bonvie, Linda. 2014. “New Research on Drinks Finds Super High Fructose Levels | Food Identity Theft.” Food Identity Theft RSS. Citizens for Health. June 10. http://foodidentitytheft.com/new-research-on-drinks-finds-super-high-fructose-levels/.

Cadbury Advertisment. 2015. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=willam%2bcadbury&view=detailv2&&id=9368f81534c3c2941037967f6e42ad7765047cfa&selectedindex=47&ccid=g5qbgwtz&simid=607987947776249378&thid=oip.m1b941b1b0b597e13c5d805ee7a2ab9d5o0&ajaxhist=0.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. 2013. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Collins, Sam P.K. 2014. “General Mills Will Stop Marketing Synthetic Products As ‘Natural’ To Make Them Appear Healthier.” ThinkProgress RSS. Center for American Progress Action Fund. November 19. http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/11/19/3594144/general-mills-settlement/.

Consumer. 2014. “Food Labels Survey.” C ONSUMER R EPORTS ® N ATIONAL R ESEARCH C ENTER: 1–23. http://www.greenerchoices.org/pdf/consumerreportsfoodlabelingsurveyjune2014.pdf.

“Definition Of News Tickers in English.” 2016. Accessed March 11. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/news-ticker.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016. “Shield Law.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/topic/shield-law.

Higgs, Catherine. 2012. “Cadbury, Burtt, And Protuguese Africa.” Essay. In Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa, 133–165. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

“History Of Television – Mitchell Stephens.” 2016. Nyu.Edu. New York University. Accessed March 11. http://www.nyu.edu/classes/stephens/history%20of%20television%20page.htm.

Kripke, Erik, Andrew Dabb, Daniel Loflin, and Guy Norman Bee. 2012. “Supernatural Season 7 Episode 22.” Episode. Supernatural. The CW. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqmbzzjcxtm.

Landa, Michael M. 2015. “Response To Petition from Corn Refiners Association to Authorize ‘Corn Sugar’ as an Alternate Common or Usual Name for High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).” U.S. Food And Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. June 23. http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeoffoods/cfsan/cfsanfoiaelectronicreadingroom/ucm305226.htm.

Leiter, Brian. 2006. “Why Blogs Are Bad for Legal Scholarship.” The Yale Law Journal 116. http://www.yalelawjournal.org/forum/why-blogs-are-bad-for-legal-scholarship.

Minton, Barbara. 2014. “Corporations Have Renamed ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’.” Natural Society. Natural Society. December 10. http://naturalsociety.com/watch-corporations-renamed-high-fructose-corn-syrup/.

Mortensen, Mette. 2011. “When Citizen Photojournalism Sets the News Agenda: Neda Agha Soltan as a Web 2.0 Icon of Post-Election Unrest in Iran.” Global Media And Communication 7 (1): 4–16. doi:10.1177/1742766510397936.

“Natural.” 2015. Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/natural.

“‘Natural’ On Food Labeling.” 2015. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. November 12. http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/labelingnutrition/ucm456090.htm.

Number, Prime. 2010. “Comedy Central Pulled South Park Episode ‘201’ Off The Air Amidst Controversy.” 37prime.News. 37primenews. April 23. http://37prime.com/news/2010/04/23/comedy-central-pulled-south-park-episode-201-off-the-air-amidst-controversy/.

Satre, Lowell J. 2005. Chocolate On Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

“Settlement Agreement.” 2016: 1–16. Accessed March 11. http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/general-mills-settlement-agreement.pdf.

“System Of A Down – Hypnotize.” 2009. YouTube. Vevo. October 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lohecz4t2xc.

“U.S. Diplomacy And Yellow Journalism, 1895–1898 – 1866–1898 – Milestones – Office of the Historian.” 2016. Office Of the Historian. U.S. Department of State. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/yellow-journalism.

Vanilla Chex Nutrition Information. 2015. http://www.leanitup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/chex_vanilla.jpg.

“Vault Of the Secret Formula.” 2016. World Of Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola. https://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/explore/explore-inside/explore-vault-secret-formula/.

“What Are Radio’s Basic Problems And Future Prospects?” 2013. American Historical Association. American Historical Association. https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/how-far-should-the-government-control-radio/what-are-radios-basic-problems-and-future-prospects.

“What Is the Meaning of ‘Natural’ on the Label of Food?” 2016. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. March 4. http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm214868.htm.

Wright, Erik Olin, and Joel Rogers. 2011. “Democracy And Corporate Media.” Essay. In American Society: How It Really Works. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/contemporaryamericansociety/chapter%2019%20–%20the%20media%20–%20norton%20august.pdf.

Men and Chocolate: Chocolate Makes Everything Bearable

Original Commercial:

Our Version:

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Commentary:

Pam Nesia’s Story:

dove-individuals

This particular Dove commercial was a segment from the Australian advertising campaign for the “Dove Individuals” product, the individually wrapped bite-sized chocolate.  The featured “Dove Individuals” characters are Pam Nesia, a frazzled woman who eats chocolate to forget her most embarrassing moments, and Em Ocean, a woman who claims to only eat chocolate when she is emotional, however, she often puts herself in “emotional” situations through attending funerals and weddings for people she does not know as well as binge watching romance films (see the video below). We chose to closely analyze the video featuring Pam Nesia, which begins with Pam’s French boyfriend, Alexandre, explaining that “Pam Nesia eats chocolate to forget her troubles, but she never thought it would actually erase her memory.”  He then begins to describe the transgression that led to Pam’s current forgetful state beginning with the moment in which Pam’s gynecologist, during the middle of a pelvic exam, mentions that he remembers her as she was in his English class in high school.  Pam now “forgets the little things.”  One scene features Pam playing Beethoven’s Fur Elise: in the middle of the piece, she consumes chocolate and immediately forgets the next progression of notes and begins to bang fruitlessly onto the piano keys with an emotionless expression.  Another segment retells the moment in which Pam accidentally sends a nude picture of herself to the entire staff at her office job.  Naturally, Pam eats a Dove Individual to Dove Individualsforget the incredibly embarrassing mistake.

 

Goals of Our Remake:

The blatantly sexist nature of this commercial is what inspired us to recreate our own version of the commercial, however, this time, swapping the gender of the two main characters.  The female character, Alexandra, rather than Alexandre, is sassy, confident, and independent.  She expresses the extent to which her significant other embarrasses himself through his attempts to portray himself as “macho” and his multiple other failed attempts at everyday tasks.  Alexandra gives her significant other chocolate after each embarrassing moment.  Once he has tasted the sweetness of the Dove product, he is now under the spell of Alexandra, as is shown by the storyboard’s portrayal of the male completing housework.  The commercial ends with Alexandra winking at the camera, sharing her best kept secret with the audience, chocolate.

Issues of Reception:

Australian Vs. American Social Norms:

Upon first viewing this commercial, I was initially shocked as to how this advertisement did not generate criticisms regarding the sexist undertones.   More interesting is the comparison of Australian and American societal attitudes towards gender.  Based upon the multiple similarities between the two countries, the most obvious being the shared language, I was shocked as to the differing levels of what is deemed acceptable to air on television.  I naturally imagined the threshold for insensitive public content would be comparable to that of the states, especially after stumbling across articles such the following (link) which states that “following several complaints about the ad for menswear retailer Roger David, the Advertising Standards Bureau asked for it to be withdrawn , saying it ‘’inappropriately depicted a young girl in a sexualized manner.’” Regarding the Dove commercial, it must be noted that the naïve and frazzled female character has an American accent meanwhile the male significant other has a French accent and the remainder of the characters sport Australian accents.  Perhaps the blatant sexist elements were interpreted as a parody of Americans as opposed to being derogatory toward women.

Issues of Gender:

The unfair representation of women in the media, as housewives, naive girlfriends, and damsels-in-distress, dates back to the very beginning of time.  Robertson reveals the origins of the “magic of housework” and how this role came to be associated with woman; and more importantly how women working outside the home have become to be represented.  As can be seen through Pam’s workplace, a small cubicle at a seemingly dull office job, “women workers have been either neglected or trivialized as pretty but temporary employees.” (Robertson, 6)  After Pam sends the embarrassing photograph, she is able to easily forget her professional faux pas. Through the representation of the situation, it is implied that she is not the breadwinner as she does not seem to be worried about the state of her job after a major offense.  More specifically to chocolate advertisements, women are represented as the major consumers of the product and as Robertson points out, “Women are positioned as the consumers early in the narrative…it is the indigenous woman as consumer who first gives Cortes knowledge of chocolate.” (Robertson, 68)

Most of Pam’s character is portrayed through nonverbal elements such as her clothing, makeup, and facial expressions, as Alexandre seems to do most of the talking.  For the majority of the commercial, Pam looks straight ahead with an emotionless stare with her large, docile eyes, incredibly pale skin, and excessive makeup, appearing childlike or submissive.   Alexandre is presented as a sophisticated intellectual whose duty it is to look after his naive girlfriend.  Regarding Pam’s chocolate dependence, Alexandre states that it is “good for her, [but] for me it’s kind of difficult.”  Pam is a burden for Alexandre and this representation of a woman and her relationship with a chocolate product is chock full of severely sexist undertones.

Conclusion:

By switching the gender roles, we believe our commercial portrays men as the docile and naive housewife, which is completely contrary to the modern cultural portrayal of the ideal housewife.  Additionally, by choosing to feature embarrassing moments that are activities that are culturally isolated to be fields that men dominate, such as sports, wooing women, and watching television with food in hand, we feature a male character that fails to uphold this well-established stereotype of what it means to be a perfect male specimen.  These moments of failure, along with the inclusion of a male completing housework, a role that falls in the hands of a woman, completely contradict every stereotype that currently exists in modern advertising.  This image is presented in a comical nature and thus provides a means for anti-sexist viewers to laugh at the ridiculous nature of existing stereotypes through the mockery of an age-old, and ready to be retired, cultural dynamic.  Overall, we find our remake of the commercial to be much more enjoyable.

Works Cited:

Gray, Emma. “Swiffer Ad Uses Rosie The Riveter To Encourage Women To Clean The                           Kitchen.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 03 June 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.         <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/swiffer-ad-rosie-the-riveter-                                    photo_n_3380191.html?utm_hp_ref=women-and-advertising>.

Kermond, Clare. “Banned Ad ‘inappropriate'” The Age. Fairfax Media Network, 19 Aug.                   2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/banned-ad-                 inappropriate-20110818-1j07e.html>.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History.                                 Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.