Consumerism in a Sexual Economy

1210 Words5 Pages
Have you ever flicked through a magazine nonchalantly and been stopped flat by some image that you just couldn’t pull your eyes away from? If so then the advertisement did its job, and may even be worth the chunk of change it cost to produce. The people of the United States have seen and heard about countless products for so many years, and that has brought about a problem for the corporations putting the ads out. With so many ads pushing into the heads of the American public, there has been desensitization and a growing accustomed to all the advertisements. If the consumer does not pay attention to the ad then the company has wasted money on an unsuccessful tactic to secure more business. This problem is a large driving force behind an era of advertising whose mottos are “shock and awe” and “sex sells.” Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns offer an invaluable example demonstrating the transition into this new era of advertising. In the early 1980’s Calvin Klein was a growing corporation that had been around for over a decade. With the ever growing market of fashion, Calvin Klein has been known for provocative advertising. However risqué Calvin Klein ads were in the past, his ads today in the 21st century continue to push boundaries to keep consumers taking that second look. The first advertisement features Tom Hintnaus, an Olympic pole-vaulter, in a clearly phallic image. This ad débuted in Times Square in 1983 as a poster and started a new trend of underwear advertising. The image is very sexually charged with the lack of clothing for starters. However, it is not just the fact that the model isn’t fully clothed that makes the sexuality stand out. In the image, Tom’s eyes are closed and he has his hips tilted ... ... middle of paper ... ...f clothing on (if any at all). The “shock and awe” and “sex sells” aspects of advertising have become more and more apparent with each new campaign to a point where, like in the third ad shown above, the sexuality is almost the only thing that reaches the viewer from the ad. This snowball effect has continued for at least thirty years, and being around for so long displaying images carries with it power to shape popular culture. The American society has been molded to attempt to fit the ideas of these images into our everyday lives, and these ideas are passed on to later generations. With all this power to influence culture, it becomes important for the American people as individuals to be able to view these images simply as advertisements and shape popular culture with ideas that will benefit the American society instead of lining the wallets of corporations.
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