So Jack and the Box recently has been airing this commercial, which I must admit that in the beginning is quite funny. The woman claims she is going through menopause and desires a certain Jack and the Box drink to help ease her “suffering.” However at the end, Jack says she needs the drink to stop her from going “street rat crazy.”
Here is my issue with this commercial: Some Americans (I only speak for American culture because I have not become an expert and/or have lived in any other culture), believe now that woman can work that sexism is dead. Some Americans believe that because Obama is President that racism is dead. Some Americans believe that hate crimes are a thing of the 80’s now that we have accepted AIDS/HIV not as homosexual diseases only. Women are still sexually harassed at work, people still use racist language, and hate crimes are on the rise, specifically against those who do not identify as being gay and are only perceived as being gay.
We have come a long way, I recognize that, but there is still so much work to do.
Commercials that have any “ism” undertones at all are only perpetuating the problem. Those who are educated pick up on the patriarchal nature of such commercials as the Jack and the Box one featured in this blog. It is the people who are media illiterate that I worry about. I have people always telling me to lighten up about the media and I have to explain to them that the media is injecting us with messages about hate, body image, etc without us even realizing it. They try to send subliminal messages to us at childhood that saturate and become a part of our belief and value systems. The ideologies sent through mass media end up becoming vital parts of our family system that get passed down through the generations. I had a group member in a science course last term from Saudi Arabia that said to me “What scares me is that American culture is shaped by your media, while in Saudi, the citizens and their culture shape it [the media].” Not that I believe Saudi is the poster child nation for women’s rights, however this was coming from an educated man in his late 20s and I thought his point was valid and frighteningly accurate. Are U.S. Americans that obvious?
What Jack and the Box does is put women back in the box. The bottom of the box. The box that puts women under men in the power structure (Marxist theory of power relations). It’s only a 30 second commercial, but it’s message is centuries old. It actually dates back to hysteria when Jack says “street rat crazy.” If you know where the word hysterical came from you know what I mean. Only women could be diagnosed with hysteria and in today’s society the word hysterical is often only used when referring to women. If more Americans would understand the root world of hysterical and how sexist it really is, less of us would use it. Or at least I would hope…
The problem is, people don’t know. And when advertisers create their witty messages they should be held accountable for the work they produce if it is sexist, racist, homophobic….and all the “isms” out there. How come there is censorship for racism but not sexism? How come cable shows cannot use the “N” word but men can call each other “pussies” and “bitches?”
Bottom line, the commercial was almost funny. However, when issues such as menopause are so sensitive to so many women (or perhaps not, some women don’t claim to “suffer” all of the same symptoms) than we have to ask, “why are these women sensitive to this commercial?” The answer always should reflect our history. We need to remember where the word hysterical came from, why it was used, and what sort of problems it created in our society. Is it OKAY to call a girl/woman crazy just because she cries? Why crazy? Is it better than hysterical? Is it the modern word for it? Maybe we just had a bad day.