Editorial

In the November-December issue of its newsletter, the UCSD Women’s Center ran an article titled, “”Controversy Over Sony Ads In The UCSD Guardian.”” This headline refers to the Sept. 24 issue of the Guardian, in which Sony Screenblast purchased four advertisements.

Three of the Sony advertisements described by the Women’s Center were photographs of young women, and one portrayed a young man. Overlaid onto each ad’s photograph was one of Sony’s slogans: “”Use me,”” “”Share me,”” Enter me”” and “”Manipulate me.””

In the weeks following the circulation of these advertisements, the Guardian received letters to the editor that criticized these ads’ sexual overtones and the Guardian’s publication of such material.

The Women’s Center newsletter notes this and states that it has scheduled a presentation and discussion in response to readers’ reactions. The forum is intended to address questions such as, “”How do media images affect our view [sic] of women?”” and “”What is the line between advertising and pornography, between criticism of the media and censorship?””

These questions, and their relative answers, are interesting, thought-provoking and certainly deserving of scrutiny. However, the Guardian should not be held responsible for the content or the implied messages that advertisers choose to rely on when marketing their products. Advertisers throughout many generations have perpetually relied on selling sex in order to sell products, and criticism of Sony’s advertisements is best directed not at the Guardian but at Sony, the creator of the images and slogans that some have found offensive.

Admittedly, it is apparent that the Women’s Center newsletter does not necessarily intend to hold the Guardian solely responsible for these ads’ content.

Still, concerns regarding the overt sexuality of advertising should not have been prompted by these ads alone; any individual who regularly accesses the Internet, television, magazines, billboards or major newspapers is constantly exposed to sexually based advertising techniques. That such techniques happened to appear in the Guardian may have served as a wake-up call for groups concerned with these issues, but this instance is in no way a unique one and should hardly be the catalyst for an analysis of the power and nature of advertising. That power is expressed daily in much larger ways and on much grander scales — even on this campus.

Furthermore, the Guardian believes that many of its readers, especially as students, possess a honed and powerful ability to critically analyze anything put before them. Although it may be argued that advertising can be powerful enough, in some cases, to “”contribute to violence against women,”” we presume that readers are capable of detecting the covert, money-driven purpose of advertisements such as those recently criticized, and that our audience can intelligently interpret such ads for what they are worth.

It seems from some students’ responses to Sony’s advertisements, however, that we can only be hopeful that in making this assumption, we have not engaged in a leap of faith.

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