When watching TV, my instincts tell me to channel surf until my fingers go numb. This past Saturday morning was no different. After trying to stomach five minutes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I became incredibly bored and sort of uncomfortable, so I defaulted to MTV. The same episode of Teen Mom 2 that I’ve now seen six times was on. Ah, familiarity.
During the commercial break, the following advertisement appeared.
I found myself feeling quite irritated and angry at the end of the commercial and it took some reflecting to figure out why.
Breaking down the commercial, for those who choose not to watch it, goes as follows: a company called Carloanpal offers services to access car loans for people with “good, bad, or even no credit.” I thought this sounded nice until the commercial storyline followed. In the 63-second advertisement, a guy is driving a beat-up car. He stops, sees an attractive girl, and smugly asks, “hey Jen, need a ride?” Jen, busy texting, cocks an eyebrow and says, “are you serious? Not in that thing,” then proceeds to walk away. The guy disappointedly mutters to himself, “bad credit ruinin’ my game!” Then, after a spiel about all of the great services this company provides, the end of the commercial returns us to the story with the guy in his new car, assumedly with the help of Carloanpal, and Jen in his car with him. He smiles at the camera and says, “it worked, it was easy.” Then he drives away.
The first thing that bothered me about this was the fact that this guy pulled up to a girl and assumed that she needed his assistance. Even though it’s suggested that he knows this girl, his first thought is to try and pick her up. She clearly is not interested in him (though, as I’ll talk about later, she isn’t interested in much in regards to standards), but he proceeds to try his luck anyway. Too, it’s kind of intimidating for a guy in a car to ask a girl if she needs a ride as she doesn’t know his true intentions. His car, regardless of its condition, is able to move much faster than her. What if her saying no wasn’t an answer he accepted? He had four wheels in contrast to her two legs. We know who would have won that battle.
Following the initial sequence of the storyline is the end of the commercial. After the guy has received his car loan and can now afford a new, shiny car, he gets the girl. There are a couple of issues with this. One thing that confused me was how was he able to find Jen again so quickly? Like, dang, she already turned you down once…did you really go to all of that trouble to get a car loan just to fix your game?
Another problem is the overall portrayal of the girl. She’s highlighted in a light that is superficial, vapid, and frankly stupid. Her only requirement for getting in his car is what the car looks like? Not only that, but at the end of the commercial, she gets in his car and smiles admiringly at him, like he should be idolized, as he tells the camera that the act of getting her was easy. What sort of message is that sending to young girls? Young boys? Society in general?
I completely understand that the storyline behind the commercial is meant to be humorous. It’s apparent that something like this most likely wouldn’t happen in real life. The problematic aspects arise when nobody questions the actions in the thousands of advertisements we’re subjected to everyday. Just because the message is seemingly harmless, it’s silently reinforcing awful habits and accepted social behaviors that need to stop.
There are countless ways they could have fixed this plot in order to make it more socially appropriate. The girl wasn’t even necessary to explain the usefulness of the company. Yet again, media has used the tool of the materialistic, naïve woman to sell a product.
Oh advertisement industry, you cease to amaze me with your patriarchal undertones!