It's a topic of conversation that's become all too frequent among parents and non-parents alike: What in the world is going on with these disgusting new ads?
It was bad enough that parents have to shield their children from what Hollywood calls entertainment. Now they have to be equally vigilant with the messages and visuals put forward by the advertisers who sponsor that filth.
Parents can become discouraged by the sheer intensity of the commercial manipulation of sex. It's everywhere. Reporter Matt Spector of ABCNews.com recently underlined how the hypersexualization of teenagers in advertising is intensifying. A Greek print ad for previously owned BMW autos features a clearly teenage-looking girl shot from her naked shoulders up, her blond hair splayed around her head across the page. The ad's come-hither sentence: "You know you're not the first."
Ads for American Apparel underwear are so suggestive they seem like a "homage to pornography." That is no exaggeration. They've actually used porn actresses in their print ads. Spector reports that in one ad, a girl wearing only American Apparel underwear can be seen crawling between a man's legs. In the next shot, the model is licking the crotch of the man's underwear, glancing seductively at the camera.
Liz Perle, editor-in-chief of the group Common Sense Media, said advertisers are selling more than a product. They are marketing a complete sexual lifestyle. "Kids are exposed at younger and younger ages to more and more sexually graphic material. When you show an ad that showcases shortcuts to those things, you're not just selling underwear or T-shirts, you're selling whole ways of being."
Perle is correct when she insists that hyper-sexual ads using teenage models (or twentysomething models that pass for teenagers) creates a template for what could be considered normal behavior for a teen, and she insists that advertisers shouldn't be allowed to use teenage models (or younger) to peddle that message: "I'd just say to the creators of these ads, Put your 12-year-old girl or boy in front of them and see if you repeat them' That should be the sanity check."
Spector also focused on the new print ads for the teen drama "Gossip Girl" on the little-watched CW network. They drew attention by using the disapproving words of TV critics to sell the show. One features a teenage girl character with her eyes closed and her mouth open as a man nuzzles her neck, with the Boston Herald's verdict: "Every Parent's Nightmare."