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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Dreaded Casting Call

Advertising is my life. That's well noted. Looking back on some of the big hits over the decades reveals how billions of dollars spent on ad time can perpetuate falsehoods and dig holes that even workers in FDR's New Deal jobs program couldn't fill:

-Fifty years ago ads for cigarettes were everywhere and endorsed by celebrities from sports to movies.

-Coca Cola, backed by the Soda Pop Board of America, once proclaim that our children's brains needed sugary drinks in their formative years to develop properly and fit in with society properly.

-Airlines used to position their women employees as a wonderful way for men to replace their wives on their travels (or even find a wife for that matter).

Now, well past my formative years in the ad game, I am beside myself about the sexist advertising that still exists. I can't say that I'm an innocent in the world of using the female form to sell product.

Check out these award-winning ice cream spots (yes, I am serious [!], I have shiny pieces of hardware touting my excellence in advertising for these misinformed was I?):

Lotte Ice Cream

Creme d'Or Ice Cream

Looking back, I can't say that I am proud, but I guess you can call me a reformed feminist because I don't do commercials like that anymore.

Hard to find, but a fantastic gossip read.
The feminist led me to paid more attention to the famous Hollywood casting call. Marilyn Monroe made the casting call famous. Monroe had resolved to sleep with anyone who could help her attain fame and fortune in Hollywood. According to countless biographies, friends of the iconic actress routinely note that she had "sex with anybody she thought might be able to advance her career."

Many others, male and female, have chosen to take this path, even today. However, women are still being subjected to the sexist rigors of the casting call and showrunners don't even seem to feel the need to hide it.

There's been some buzz about "Casting Call, The Project," which features real women—18 in all—reading real casting notices. Their reactions range from as little as raised eyebrows to exasperated sighs and obscenities.

Three friends created the project—Julie Asriyan, Laura Bray and Jenna Ciralli—summarized their work:
"In our quest to find and create work, we became all too familiar with reading character breakdowns posted on casting call notices via the numerous casting websites (some legitimate and reputable, others, not so much). Throughout this journey, we would often share with each other particularly ridiculous, hysterical and appalling casting call notices."
The project is working with over 300,000 Facebook views in its first 24 hours and it's closing in on 100,000 views on youtube:

Each casting call notes the classic stereotypes about gender, age, body type, and race with many conveying the deepest cuts into institutional segregation of the sexes:
  • "Loves being a woman, so she probably wears a push-up bra."
  • "Nerdy type of girl, nevertheless she has a boyfriend who loves her." 
  • "Her cleavage is her best feature."
  • "She's actually pretty, even with no makeup." 
My "favorites" are these lines:
  • "Lead actress needed for film about feminism. She is moderately attractive."
  • "Prefer an actor who is not thin. This is a great role for a feminist."
Seriously, who writes this stuff?!

Kudos to these real New York friends who creatively show that by taking ownership of the creative process, women can "bring about the roles we all want to see for female actors."

In other news...

...London mayor bans sexist ads...

Women react to 'body-shaming' Protein World ads.
...Advertising Agency Returns Cannes Bronze Lion for Sexist Scam Ad for Bayer...

Violating privacy of women wins awards, but doesn't pay well in public anymore.
and finally, A big brand promises less sexist advertising!