Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Take It Off!

Hockey fans are hypocrites. Maybe not all of them, and maybe not you, but a LOT of them are definitely hypocrites.

Georges Laraque is in trouble this week for appearing in a TV ad for an alcoholic, caffeinated drink that walks the line between what league policy allows an NHLer to endorse and what it doesn't. That's fine, and the league should examine the ad to make sure it doesn't violate its rules. (The idea of a hockey player a lot of kids admire promoting energy drinks many health professionals say are harmful to their health is another issue altogether.) But the other trouble Laraque finds himself in is with women's groups who say the nearly-naked women who appear in the ad, playing road hockey with Laraque, are being exploited.

It doesn't surprise me that women's-rights advocates look askance at yet another ad aimed at young men that uses scantily-clad females to grab some attention. What does surprise me, though, is the number of hockey fans who slam that point of view because they like looking at women's butt cheeks hanging out of their tiny shorts. They like closeups of large boobs and they like long hair and longer legs. I've got no problem with people liking the images, but that doesn't mean the women who oppose them shouldn't have a differing opinion, just as legitimate as the one of the people who enjoy Laraque's ad.

That, however, isn't what makes hockey fans hypocrites. What makes them hypocrites is the reaction ESPN magazine got for its images of hockey players in this week's Body issue. Zdeno Chara and a trio of Oilers, including ex-Hab Sheldon Souray, pose in the altogether...tastefully, and even humourously the issue. The almost universal opinion of hockey fans, however, is that the images are repulsive, in bad taste and generally disgusting. A lot of fans aren't hiding feelings of homophobia when they talk about the pictures being "gay." This is what I don't get.

Why is it acceptable to admire the mostly-naked women in Laraque's commercial, but not acceptable to see hockey players showing their bodies? I admit, Chara's ugly mug doesn't do much for the otherwise artistic shot of him in the ESPN magazine. But the picture isn't disgusting or threatening. And the shot of the Oiler guys is whimsical and entertaining. It's not exactly gay porn.

I'm not saying all hockey fans are hypocrites in this way. Or that you're one of them. But if you enjoy the women in Georges Laraque's Octane ad, while you think Chara's picture is horrible, you might want to ask yourself why that's so.


NailaJ said...

It's so very true. All advertising is aimed at a certain audience. In Laraque's case, the target audience was clearly young males. In the ESPN case, it was clearly women.

We should just admit that this is and will always be the reality and move on.

Unknown said...

I enjoy your posts J.T., especially since, I believe, you're a Newf (as am I). Thanks. Regarding the hypocrisy, have you read many of the posts on HIO? If so, suggesting self-reflection for folks who have an issue with the guy images is like asking Dick Cheney to support an end to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the U.S. military. Nice thought though!

Unknown said...

Just had another thought: I find it somewhat hypocritical of some women's groups who advocate for equal rights for women yet condemn those who choose careers or opportunities that involve being scantily clad or nude. I'm not saying that I agree with their choice of careers or that I think it's a dignified way to make a living...but, they are individuals and I assume that for the models in the ads, it's something that was freely chosen. I realize that the porn issue is much more complicated.

Scott in Montreal said...

It is the objectification of the women in the BGL ad that is offensive, because it legitimizes the concept that women amount to sex objects with no other discernible value. There is nothing artistic in the ad, evidenced by its borderline pornographic direction. It promulgates the kind of thinking that leads young men to rationalize gang-rape. That's what I find offensive about it anyway.

Unknown said...

And once again you hit the nail on the head. It's about time some of the idiots at the CBC get rid of jerks like Milbury and replace them with people that can think like you.

Christopher Sama said...

Where are these advocacy groups every other night of the year? How many teams have puck-bunnies? They "entertain" on-ice and have countless photo spreads on the official team sites. I find that content worse.

I don't think Laraques should be scape-goated but rather, the entire culture be critiqued. It's too easy to get BGL to apologize and then say everything is okay again. There's more to it than that.

Unknown said...

Ever notice those feminists never look like anyone in those t.v ads? Seriously though, these women got paid to show off their bodies. They did it by choice, and werent forced to make this commercial. So, no they werent exploited as far as Im concerned.