I was traveling last night, which means over lunch today I’m doing the typical “watch all the Super Bowl commercials I missed” thing, and I of course sought out the popular ones first. One of the commercials I saw being referred to in tweets over the course of the night was the “sweet” Audi commercial, about a boy going to prom alone and kissing the prom queen anyhow. Okay, a sort of John Hughes premise to the whole commercial – I figured it would be some sort of kitschy montage of friendship, shyness, etc, ending in a sweet prom moment.
Instead, I got what reads as assault:
I’d certainly be interested in hearing how other people are reading this – I suppose it’s possible that in hanging around feminist communities, weird things have happened to my brain. But this commercial reads as a stranger – the solitary “geeky” young man – walking up to a woman he doesn’t know but longs for and sexually assaulting her. His punishment for this isn’t the prom queen shoving him off, but instead the prom king punching him – which certainly reads as “man defending property” rather than “hey asshole, don’t randomly kiss women without their permission.”
More than that, though, this Audi commercial – aside from the blatant assault – perpetuates this notion that the “nice” geek guy can “get the prom queen,” because her reaction is one of dreamy contentment at being grabbed and kissed without warning by someone she apparently doesn’t know, rather than horror, shock, or repulsion.1 Instead, the “nice guy” gets what he wants – the girl, who, again, is treated as property through the entire commercial – by being “brave,” thus also reinforcing the Nice Guy trope that girls only dig “bad boys.” You know, like the bad boy who’d grab a girl and kiss her without permission (implicitly or explicitly given).
Shame on Audi for conflating bravery with sexual assault, and then attempting to use it to sell cars.
- I’m tempted to go all lit crit on the symbolism behind the outfits being worn by the geek guy and prom king, as well. [↩]