Saturday, March 23, 2013

The dongle joke feminism forgot

To get up to speed with the entire "donglegate" madness, you may want to start with Ars Technica's article.

And if you want a bit more background on double standards as they apply to jokes in public settings, you can read the previous set of "Jokes you aren't allowed to tell".

For other examples of feminists going crazy about Super Bowl commercials, have a look at the Audi commercial.

Now, back to dongles.



In the commercial, Amy Poehler plays a rather scatterbrained customer of Best Buy.

Not only is she portraying a blonde that is technically ignorant, her character also is preoccupied with her looks.

Holding up two phones beside her face, she asks:
"Which one fits my face?"
This is before she launches into a rather hysterical:
"ARE WE IN THE CLOUD NOW?"
Then the comments become sexual.

She pauses, gazes at Best Buy employee, and says suggestively:
"No, I mean, do you 'deliver'...?"
With half her body in washing machine, she asks:
"Which of these are the most vibraty-est?"
And then the million dollar joke:
"Can I use a dongle with this?"
"Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word dongle?"
Taking a picture of the staff, she asks in a low voice:
"You wanna unbutton your shirt a little bit?"

And then the commericial wraps with Amy holding an e-reader, asking:
Amy : "Will this read 50 Shades of Grey to me in a sexy voice?
Employee : "No"
Amy : "Will you?"
Nothing about the commercial suggests the sexual advances were actually desired by the male. In fact with some menacing music and a more intimidating customer, the commercial could easily be converted into a "what not to do" human resources training video.

But no one will ever hear "feminists" being overwhelmingly angry about this video.

Nobody cares.

Why?

Well, for starters:

  1. The commercial is funny
  2. Amy Poehler rocks
  3. Sex jokes are not sexist by definition
  4. Sexual advances can be perfectly normal, and even [gasp!] funny.
Furthermore, Amy herself identifies as feminist. (The Slate article goes as far as to call Amy a "feminist superstar" and briskly dismisses Taylor Swift's criticism) 


The commercial and the facts surrounding its reception underline a simple conclusion.

A electronics retail giant and a "feminist superstar" collaborated create a marketing campaign for the Super Bowl and the result was almost entirely based on sexual humor. And it was well received.

It's a simple reality that the endless battle to crucify males making sex related jokes at skeptic/tech conferences is absolutely counterproductive.

Try for a moment to create a fast and simple rule to devise when a sex joke is inappropriate or an advance is creepy. It's difficult, which is why people fuck it up so often. It depends a lot on the situation, yet Twitter vigilantes and the internet hate machine will pass judgment before really understanding the perspective of anyone involved.

How do we end things like donglegate and elevatorgate?

Conferences could simply cut out sex jokes and alcohol. It could all end tomorrow.

Interesting people will go somewhere else or simply stay home.

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