The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Eros and Advertising

Paradoxically the place that understands this erotic secret well is in the world of advertising. Even when television programs are bland and insipid, advertising is often erotic. We all realized long ago that advertising uses the sexual as a primary tool in its campaigns. Somehow we are meant to associate the beautiful woman with the sleek car.

Moralists often accuse the advertisers of a great moral wrong in this kind of advertising. After all, advertising seems to falsely suggest that we will somehow get the girl if we buy the car. I think we have all figured out that the girl does not come with the car. Rather, the implication is far more subtle. On some level this kind of advertisement actually intuits the secrets of the cherubs. The profound implication of the girl/car nexus is that the sexual eros expressed by the girl is a model of the kind of eros the driver wants in his means of transportation. This profound and true idea drives much of advertising.

It is perhaps more than a telling coincidence of language that these glamorous women are called models. An obvious shoo-in for our theme! For essentially they are illustrators of the metaphysical (and physical) fact that sex models the erotic. Their sexual allure is used to pull at the erotic strings of our soul. When we buy into the ad we are chasing not the sex it displays but the eros modeled there, the eros we so deeply if subconsciously quest after. Models then become a handy visual and linguistic reminder of the fact that all we are really after is some good eros.

Mind the Gap
The Gap’s ad campaign in the fall of 2001 shows slender stylish young ladies with a caption underneath that says, “My First Love.” The reader/gazer/consumer expects some sexually provocative image or story to follow. Then comes the wonderful twist that makes this ad stand out. We see a picture of the model with a book – “My first love – Anais Nin,” or with a tape, “My first love – the Ramones”...or a photo, “My first love – my mom.” What the Gap ads effectively did is suggest an explanation of the erotic beyond the sexual to include art, music, and personal nonsexual relationships. The ad plays off the Western mind, which expects the sultry story to fill in the blank of what is “love” or what is erotic. The Gap is ever so subtly suggesting that the Shechina needs to be liberated from the merely sexual. You can live erotically in all areas of life.

While we give kudos to the Gap for intelligent, soul-broadening advertising, it is understandable that all too often Madison Avenue goes wrong by manipulating eros rather than serving eros. That is to say erotic manipulation is used to sell us products we don’t need or want. Madison Avenue feeds on our eros-starved soul purely for the sake of uninhibited profit. That is not the exile of the Shechina, for indeed sex and eros are not split. It would be more accurate to describe Madison Avenue as pimping the Shechina – making her a prostitute, selling her wares to support “the Man.”

- The Mystery of Love


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