Surf Porn

The advertisement I chose to analyze is a short clip of the beautiful professional surfer Stephanie Gilmore in what seems to be a surfing advertisement for Roxy.  The images seen in the clip seem to challenge some of the ideologies of professional women’s surfing while at the same time over sexualizing the professional athletes image. The stereotype seen in this advertisement addresses the fine line professional women surfers walk as professional athletes and sex icons the way their sponsors reinforce these rolls. Upon watching this clip we as an audience, can’t help but notice the sexually charged position the advertisement takes. It seems as if the untrained eye would struggle deciphering what type of ad this commercial representing if it wasn’t for not considering the last fifteen seconds of complementary paddling we see. The commercials campaign while focusing on the popular surf brand, Roxy seems to highlight the athlete’s status as a glamorous model and not the five-time world champion that she is. The visual description of the ad starts off by showing an early morning shot of a beautiful coastline that seems to represent a foreign landscape or an exotic place. We then are introduced to the female athlete for the first time in the frame by showing her almost naked body lying in a bed of white sheets. At this point we realize the cameras angle shooting directly down her backside focusing on the strikingly blonde hair and perfectly tan skin. The frame then changes a few times to show different angles of her slim waist and toned legs which creates a vulnerable and sexual disposition about the athlete. As the camera follows her leaving the bed we get the impression due to the lavish display of breakfast foods she is in an upscale fashionable hotel. Next we see the shower sequence only revealing her naked shoulders and back but still presented in a very sexual manner. By this point in the advertisement the audience has yet to see the athletes face. The next arrangement of views the commercial represents seem to only highlight specific body parts on the female such as the long legs, butt, and breasts. The objectifying views the frame shows of her body suggest a different motive then the ad displays. The advertisement finally towards the very last fifteen seconds or so shows professional surfer Stephanie Gilmore paddling into the line up suggesting we know already how good of a surfer she is without any footage of her really surfing. This advertisement sets up a discourse for women’s professional surfing that seems to create a media sport that focuses on the sexualizing of the women through the lenses of the producers. We see in this advertisement how the professional surfing women’s lifestyle is stereotyped as glamorous and consistently sexy with a little surfing on the side. On the surface, the cultural meaning can be interpellated as her primary reason of recognition is due to her sexy appearance and not her competitive surfing ability. Women’s professional surfing is a highly competitive athletic sport that requires copious amounts of training and experience. The hegemony these advertisements promote leave viewers with a skewed vision of the sport adding to the bias stereotypes. The majority of surfing advertising is focused on men and boys which might play a big role in these types of ads and why they happen to be so sexy, because sex sells. This idea shows us how the meadiasport, plays a major role in the representation and depictions the surf companies choose to show. In the reading, Reflections on Communication and Sport on Women and Femininities it says,   “Mediasport provides resources for understanding who ‘‘we’’ are and who ‘‘they’’ are.  It symbolically marks bodies and behaviors as normal or abnormal. What then results is a situation where regardless of what is actually happening, it is the media’s interpretation of that event that shapes our attitudes, values and perceptions about the world and about our culture (126).” We see this in the advertisement I chose to analyze and how its discourse simply creates the medias interpretation and representation of women’s surfing and its identity as being lavish and erotic rather then competitive and serious. Sources: Fraser, Jaime. “Surf Brand Roxy Courts Controversy With Sexualized New Spot – Meme Machine – Social Video Experts.” Surf Brand Roxy Courts Controversy With Sexualized New Spot – Meme Machine – Social Video Experts. Unruly Media Ltd., 10 July 2013. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.

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One Response to Surf Porn

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Your point that, “the professional surfing women’s lifestyle is stereotyped as glamorous and consistently sexy with a little surfing on the side” is a good one. The question now becomes why this is so, and how this commercial actively undermines the athleticism and individuality of the athlete. Her face is never show, and her most active moment (paddling) remains quite passive. I was honestly shocked that this ad was for the Women’s World Surfing Competition. I felt as if this ad basically implied that watching the competition would be similar to watching soft porn, an interpretation that your title and closing remarks seem to allude to. This seems to quite actively sexualize rather than promote the athleticism of women!

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