Why are all the Evil Profession jokes about lawyers, accountants, politicians?
Q: What do you call 10,000 accountants at the bottom of the sea?
A: A good start.
OK, so there are plenty of ambulance-chasing lawyers, and sleazoid politicians and money-grabbing accountants. But it is at least possible to be an ethical lawyer who stands up for the weak and vulnerable. It is possible to be a politician who champions worthy causes and fights the good fight as best she can. It is even possible to be an accountant who works diligently and honestly for the benefit of small businesswomen struggling to get by.
So will somebody please tell me – how can we have missed out the profession whose very soul (soul? ha!) is to deceive, to manipulate, and to fleece the ordinary woman on the street?
How did we miss the advertising executives? They are truly the evil ones.
Don’t believe me?
Turn on a commerical channel on the TV, or grab the nearest mainstream magazine or newspaper, or take a look at a few of those ads to which you are exposed when surfing the Internet. Look at them with clear eyes and see if I’m wrong.
- I just logged onto Yahoo. The first ad I saw was for Mariah Carey (yes, women are products – didn’t you know?), showing her in all her unattainable, touched-up, conventionally-beautiful glory, in a seriously sexual / objectified pose. The overt message (“Buy this song because Mariah Carey is a hot babe!”) is so ingrained into our culture that we scarcely stop to think about how silly it is. And the underlying message (“This is what successful women look like, and it is what they do to get ahead.”) is worse because it is insidious and objectifies women generally, equating beauty with worth. These silly, objectifying messages are what advertising is all about.
- The only magazine I have to hand (for reasons I won’t go into, but not because I read it regularly) is one called “Natural Health and Beauty”. This markets itself as a slightly alternative version of the mainstream beauty magazine, but even so it is no surprise to see it crammed full of advertising for Beauty Products. Beauty Products are products that nobody would need if it wasn’t for the equation of beauty with worth (see no 1 above). They are products sold to “help” women who are too fat, too spotty, too ugly, too hairy, women whose hair or skin is too dark or too pale, too greasy or too dry, women whose teeth aren’t white enough, whose bodies smell horrible, who look too old and wrinkly. Women who don’t comply with the requirements for this beauty thing. It is in the advertising of Beauty Products that the overt and underlying messages are blurred. “Buy this product because your teeth need whitening!” goes hand in hand with “Beautiful women with white teeth are happier, more successful and more valuable.” I hate these ads.
The above are just a couple of examples of things I happen to have come across in the last few minutes.
What about that TV ad for Horlicks – be as mean as you want during the day, it doesn’t matter as long as you buy our product to drink afterwards! Or the Yorkie Bar chocolate campaign – “Not for Girls!” Think about those endless adverts for cleaning products that place the women firmly in the kitchen / bathroom where she belongs. Think about that “Shaking that Ass” advert for Renault cars. Or any advert (think chocolate, think shampoo) where the woman acting in it has to fake an orgasm to show how great the product is.
So far I’ve pretty much stuck to sexist adverts – they provide a rich seam of material.
But the evildom of advertising execs is not limited to propping up the patriarchy and perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Oh no. Advertising executives also want to sell junk food to kids (think Ronald McDonald), they want to sell alcohol to irresponsible teenagers (think WKD adverts), they want to sell overpriced life insurance to older people who don’t need it because they no longer have dependents (think Christopher Timothy or Thora Hurd), they want to sell overpriced loans to people who are already in debt – “with enough left over for a holiday!” (think Carol Vorderman and her ilk).
These people have no scruples. If they were allowed, they would still be selling cigarettes through big ad campaigns, and they’d be telling you that smoking is good for your health.
Having scruples, in fact, pretty much disqualifies you for the job, it seems. Above all – they want to sell you stuff you don’t need. If you needed it, there would be no challenge in selling it, and no need to spend gazonga-wads of cash getting advertising executives to come up with snappy new campaigns. You’d buy it anyway. The whole point of advertising is to make you spend your hard-earned cash on stuff you don’t need and wouldn’t have otherwise bought.
[An aside - when I was a kid the electricity companies (which were still in monopoly status then) started running ad campaigns on TV. My Dad would say - "Oh, yeah, SWEB are great! I'm just going to turn on another light."]
Since most people are, on the whole, too sensible to part with money they can’t spare for stuff they don’t need, the whole point of advertising must therefore be to persuade you that in fact you do need this stuff. The whole basis of the advertising profession is to trick you, deceive you, lie to you and generally get you to believe something that isn’t true.
No doubt about it – advertising executives belong to the Evil Profession.
[This post inspired by Laura at I’m Not A Feminist But.]