ROTTERDAM – A six-pack? Oh, come on. Who needs a sixpack? We all have the dubious privilege to be acquinted with Axe. You know, the guys that make deoderant and shower gels specifically marketed towards 15-year-olds.
Axe, of course, is the product that makes you irrestible. It makes scantily dressed, sexy angels fall from heaven in order to hook up with this guy. Axe body spray makes woman lose their goddamn minds and run after you like sex-deprived animals. It makes karmic Romeo and Juliet have their long sought after embrace.
Where Old Spice has a disclaimer on their bottles saying that they’re not saying that
this body wash will make your man smell into a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it.
Axe is definitely not insinuating it. Now, here comes the narrative. The guys that feature in Axe commercials are pretty good-looking fellas that look absolutely nothing like this guy. The guys in Axe commercials are usually not buff or extraordinarily handsome. The women, on the other hand, are hawt. Very attractive. Sexy. Usually hardly dressed.
Axe makes this everyday normal lookin’ guy into a sex god. That’s the narrative. You are average. You look average. When you take a shower at the beach no one will of their own volition look at you soapin’ it up. However, if you soap it up with Axe, ah, well…
However, you’re probably aware of all of this. After all, even if you’re not a 15-year-old boy, you’ve heard of Axe and you probably have seen one or more commercials. If you have happened to have been, at some point possibly in a far and distant past, a 15-year-old boy, you probably remember other boys emptying like half a fucking can after gym class, firstly and mostly because everyone was too prude and insecure to go take a shower. Axe, in a way, has that cheap, hormonal, pubescent smell to it that so single-handedly informs people that you in your awkward fullness of being are about to walk around the corner.
The reason for all of this, of course, is consumerism. Axe is, after all, like a welcoming salvo into consumerist culture. Welcome to Commodity Land, this is how we treat women!
Which brings me to this post. You might have seen Axe’s new commercial. I happened to have come across it because of Apple’s never-seizing pursuit to force me to update my what is now probably ancient iPad II. One of the employed strategies is to force me to watch all commercials on my YouTube app. Really. Fuck TicTacs, man. I will as long as I live never buy another packet of those fuckers.
Axe wants you to Find Your Magic. ‘Cause,
come on? A sixpack? Who needs a sixpack, when you got The Nose? Or a nose, when you got The Suit? But you don’t need a suit, when you got The Moves. Or the moves, when you got The Fire? Or fire, when you rock Those Heels? Or heels, when you ride Those Wheels? Or looks, I mean, who needs looks, when you got the books? (…)
This commercial features what seems an almost conspicuous representation across the board: men rocking heels, and then there’s the guy rocking Those Wheels (a wheelchair), and then there’s a black guy and some gay dudes…
Finding your magic is typically a postmaterialist motto. It’s not about the product anymore, it is about consuming the ideology. It’s about you believing in the narrative, and what better narrative in an individualist society, then the one about you being unique and just right the way you are?
So, come on, a sixpack? Who needs a sixpack? A sixpack ain’t interesting, man. It doesn’t have character, it’s generic.
Now, imagine the same commercial for, let’s say, L’Oreal, ’cause
come on? A well-packed C-cup? Who needs breasts, when you got The Nose? Or a nose, when you got That Dress? But you won’t need that dress, when you got The Moves. Or maybe, if you’re just really enthusiastic people will totally forget you don’t have that well-packed C-cup.
The narrative here, as usual, is that you don’t need to be extraordinarily handsome or sexy to get the girl. Axe will help you. Well, Axe used to help you. Now, Axe just tells you to find your magic. They stopped selling irrestible bodywash and now they sell confidence. That’s still helping you, right?
Now watch that commercial again, and notice how none of the women in it have abnormally large noses or a particular fiery overcompensating enthusiasm about them. The narrative is that you don’t need a sixpack to get a beautiful girl. You are unique in your own way and you should feel good about that, because if you do, you’ll get to be with a beautiful girl. If you just rock whatever you have, and just be yourself, this beautiful girl will just not be able to help herself. Like those ladies in bikini’s running towards that guy on the fucking scooter in those older Axe commercials.
You may have noticed that the only quality of the women mentioned here is beautiful. The guys may be rocking the nose or the moves or the fire or the wheels, but all of that uniqueness and magic is packed up tightly just so you can get to be with someone who is beautiful.
And that’s the only redeeming quality you need as a woman. To be beautiful. Everyone else is getting swept up in a cultural cocktail mixer in order to broaden their horizons beyond the superficial sex-appeal of an idealised body image (you know, like David Beckham here), but you just sit there and be pretty, K?
Welcome, ladies, this is the new old sexism.