Madonna was the headlining halftime act for the Super Bowl 2012, which aired this past Sunday to a record breaking 14 million viewers. That’s 3 million more than expected and a figure which doesn’t even take into account the YouTube hits the performance will receive after the event.

It’s the first time I can think of where the headline artist has not caused controversy, though no doubt you’ll be aware of the ‘outrage’ caused when support act M.I.A put her middle finger up to the camera. Personally, I didn’t even notice the flip, and The Guardian wondered if anyone even cared:

“For most fans, it was probably more shocking to see M.I.A. performing a rehearsed dance routine than flipping the bird.”

Quite. For me, Madonna’s goddess-style Cleopatra outfit and theme for the performance, with harps and chariots, was super-stylish and breathtaking to watch.

One thing I will say, is that age ain’t nothing but a number, as 53 year old Madonna proved once again, giving a show stopping performance; performing with more energy than other artists half her age. During the song “I’m Sexy and I Know It” she proved the lyric “I work out” is absolutely true, showing of her athletic and healthy body.

On Sunday night, after the Super Bowl, Twitter was full of comments like these: “No Longer An Upset: Madonna Acts Her Age” and “The bad girl is a grown-up now”. The question that I raise from this is whether Rod Stewart or the Rolling Stones, or any other male artist/s around the same age, would be subjected to this same scrutiny regarding their age? Or, is this the world that women are living in in today’s society, where everything seems to focus on their looks and not their skill?

This leads me on to the real topic of this blog: the advertising that was aired during the 6:30pm prime-time show, which is family viewing time for many Americans watching the Super Bowl. Were these highly sexualized adverts being broadcast during prime time TV acceptable to the audience viewing at home?

The David Beckham for H&M underwear advert, for me, was the least shocking, however, reports online show that this was the one which received the most complaints. Personally, I don’t think it was a very shocking advert, but perhaps its position amongst the other adverts in the time-slot resulted in a general feeling of over-sexualisation and even misogyny.

The adverts during the Super Bowl exposed especially the young and teenaged viewer to harmful messages, objectifying the body and disregarding any respect towards the human form; promoting it instead as a commodity.

The Teleflora advert frustrated me beyond belief. This advert implies to our daughters and sons that, when a woman is given a gift by a man, he shall receive sex as a favour in return; it is no more than a glorified form of prostitution. The Fiat Advert shows a man viewing a woman as synonymous with an object to be bought (a car).

These adverts back-up the opinion that we are constantly objectifying the human form, and especially the female body. The most infuriating one for me, however, was the Toyota advert, which displayed forms of all of the topics I have discussed above, as well as treating a child like an toy called the ‘re-invented baby’, and objectification of both male and female forms, as scantly clad people are used as furniture to sit on, as well as a man who stands out in ‘skinny rain’ loses weight to achieve a ‘perfect skinny body’.

The Toyota advert ends with the quote “Everything you could possibly want”; well, what I say to this is “No, we don’t want this!” However, young impressionable minds can be sub-consciously affected when the media around them promotes body dysmorphia and a disregard towards each other. This can result in low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth and self-respect for themselves, their body and their sexuality, which they see being treated as a commodity.

If this subject is something that has stirred an emotion in you and you feel you want your voice heard
please tell us about it on the All Walks Facebook Page and/or the All Walks Twitter account, as well as following the ‘Miss Representation’ Campaign on Facebook who are also promoting a #notbuyingit campaign on Twitter regarding offensive commercials.

Post by Michael Williamson
Editor Charlotte Gush, on Twitter @CavaCharlotte

Michael Williamson is a designer, stylist, blogger and an integral member of the All Walks team, having been with us from the very beginning.

Check out his blog, Safety-Pin Charm, to keep your finger on the pulse of all things fashion – especially london based.

Follow Michael on You Tube and on Twitter @mwfrost