Under the Radar

This site is hosted by GoDaddy, so if that offends you, you may wish to quit reading right now.  There are a variety of Christian sites that are moving their site hosting from GoDaddy servers, due to unhappiness over GoDaddy’s racy superbowl ads.  I don’t have immediate plans to follow suit, though at some point I probably will- and when I do, it will be for similar theological reasons, not because I’ve ever been unhappy with GoDaddy’s service.  I just find the sudden reaction to be interesting.

Firstly, GoDaddy has used this type of advertising for several years.  This is not the first year that GoDaddy has aired racy Superbowl ads.  I’m not sure why Christian sites are just now beginning to take offense.  Perhaps this is just the first year that GoDaddy has a broad enough name-recognition for people to begin taking offense at it. 
Secondly, I’m hoping that these people (since Christian groups are really just  Christian individuals) are being consistent in their protests.  I’m going to assume that they are, in which case, I applaud their consistency.  It’s important to take a stand about what we find acceptable or not in our media.
Without a doubt, the advertisement focusing on double entendre about ‘enhancement’ is tacky.  However, it isn’t what I’d consider overtly sexual – other than the fact that it deals with attractive and enhanced women.  Tacky yes.  Enough to generate righteous indignation?  I guess that depends on how you define righteousness.  I can see equally tacky and indignation-inspiring images driving down the 101 freeway, or plastered over bus stops, and certainly all over TV.  Dancing With the Stars has some pretty darn risque outfits, doesn’t it?  And we won’t even start in on shows like Beverly Hills 90310 and others.  Those shows combine revealing clothing with explicitly sexual overtones and situations.  I hope that Christians are vocally boycotting these shows as well?
Augmentation certainly appears to be a more and more accepted part of our culture.  This ad parodies not just that trend, but also our obsession with sports stars and their alleged use of illegal performance enhancers.  Personally, I think it’s an interesting (and undoubtedly completely unintended) juxtaposition and question.  Why is it that we expect those with great talent to demonstrate it without artificial enhancements, yet we appear to have a far lower expectation for those  that we consider to be very beautiful?  Why is it that beauty can be accepted in a culturally enhanced fashion, but sports performance cannot?  
The second ad I find even more curious.  Danica Patrick, the Indy racer has been a GoDaddy spokesperson for several years.  She does it for the exposure and financial backing it brings to her and her racing team.  She’s an attractive woman, which I’m sure is appealing to GoDaddy.   The advertisement in question involves a college student who has a domain name with GoDaddy, and has found that he has complete control of a lot of things – such as encouraging Danica to take five showers in a day.  Or arranging for her to be joined in the shower by the attractive guidance counselor from college.  There is very little flesh shown (nudity is clearly implied), and while there is obviously a sexual purpose to the male college student’s actions in arranging this scenario, there is clearly no sexual interest on the part of either of the women involved.  The ad finishes when the tables are turned, and the women force the three students watching them to slap and otherwise injure one another in retaliation.
I found this ad to be rather refreshing.  It begins with what appears to be a predominant assumption, particularly amongst younger males (and females) who have had greater access to pornography, courtesy of the Internet.  The assumption is that women are basically sexual time bombs that just need to be activated properly.  Put into a sensual situation, the woman or women’s sexual nature will burst forth.  They lack only the proper stimulation of a male – in the commercial’s case, a voyeur college student.
But the commercial refutes this stereotype.  It refuses to play along with the porn assumptions.  Neither of the women are in the least aroused or interested in one another.  They are not simply there for the sexual enjoyment of the men watching – either the actors in the commercial, or the television viewers at home.  They take command of the situation, punishing the boys in the advertisement for their rude attempt at manipulation, and demonstrating clearly that they are not sexual dolls to be positioned for the enjoyment of men.  
Of course,the final seconds of the commercial have the damp women laying on a bed in front of a laptop – wrapped in towels and clearly enjoying – not one another, but rather their ability to gain revenge against the boys who sought to manipulate them.  They’re still damp, attractive women wrapped in towels, but there’s not a hint of the sensuality that the boys had sought to elicit and observe.  
We need to be careful to discern between how a message is presented, and what the message is.  No, the two are not completely separate things, but we need to be careful not to react just because an ad features an attractive woman.  I believe the first GoDaddy commercial was more sexually exploitive than the second, but it’s also mocking that sort of exploitation at a certain level.  The second commercial cleary refutes the attempts to exploit two attractive women for sensual enjoyment.  I would think that this would be a message that Christian groups would wish to affirm, despite the fact that it takes place in part in a shower.
When a culture is saturated in sexual imagery and exhortation, it is difficult to know when to draw the line.  I’m not sure that I would say the Christian groups pulling their sites are wrong for doing so.  Actually, I probably agree with them.  But I also think that we need to really look at what is being said, not simply who is saying it.  

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