Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Axe Body Spray
Though this video is meant as a parody it is so disturbing, I almost do not know where to begin. It makes a mockery of sexual assault in that it claims the genesis of this uncontrollable behavior is due to the scent of a cologne. In fact it claims that women, "temporarily loose their decorum," when they smell Axe. Apparently these women were helpless to stop themselves from committing these "lust related crimes", due to the intensity of Axe spray. It is clear that the producers of this video are referring to sexual assault. Rape is a crime of power. It originates from a mans desire to subjugate and humiliate women, and not from a desire to have sex.
The video also confronts the Whore/Madonna complex. Before women smell Axe and loose the ability to control their sexual urges they are described as nice girls, cookie bakers, perfect and pure. Positive adjectives are used to enforce abstinence, thereby disciplining the female body, and reinforcing the patriarchal desire to label, in order to maintain sexual ownership of womens bodies. The irony here, is that men are being portrayed as victims of female lust, when in reality we live in a rape culture. The media is saturated with images depicting the violation of women.
To be certain of offending all that view, the producers of this video also decided to include skewed racial imagery. The "helpless" virgins are of course white women, whereas the black women are licentious, loud, aggressive and overbearing. The white women are taken to a prison wherein the inmates are largely comprised of black women, to participate in a "scared straight" like program. Apparently, black women are more susceptible to the smell of Axe body spray. When the the black inmate begins her lecture she demands to be called "mommy" by the virgins who have been led astray. She in turn promises these white women that she will, "brush their nice little hair, give them showers and tuck them in." Yes ... oversexualized mammy will be more than happy to serve. Isn't that what black women are meant for, serving the domestic needs of white women and the sexual needs of white men? Though the inmate is speaking in a predatory tone, it clearly finds it basis for authenticity in the roles that black women have historically been made to play. To make sure you get the point, the only visibly sexually aggressive move, is made by a black female prison guard. When the white man is slathered in Axe products, she can be seen to be eagerly licking her lips. Yes, ever carnivorous in our sexual desire, we cannot wait to reveal our "true" sexual nature. Black woman are always already sexually contaminated, and as such the Axe spray becomes an excuse for us to act. Notice that in the Whore/Madonna complex narrative as presented by this video it was white women and not black women that were referred to as "squeaky clean nice girls."
Since the advent of this product, its commercials have presented skewed gender imagery that belies the seriousness of male control and aggression toward women. It is women, and not men that must run and hide from assault. It is women and not men that live in fear. Even for Axe this video is an all time low.