Friday, January 25, 2008

"You've Come a Long Way, Baby."

Are any of you AiS scholars old enough to know that cigarette companies used to advertise on billboards near schools or even on TV? If not, you might be shocked to see the following video from the makers of Virginia Slims cigarettes. If you're pressed for time, you don't need to watch more than a minute of the video to get the point:



The only reason why we have access to this and other tobacco-related documents (many of which were kept secret from the public), is that a number of states (including Illinois) sued the tobacco companies for all of the damages they had done to the state-run health insurance plans. The result is a treasure trove of audio, visual and paper documents "related to the advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific research of tobacco products".

Now the question remains: why are we viewing this video under the umbrella of our current theme, "Women and Children"? Pay special attention to how the manufacturers of Virginia Slims cigarettes try to appeal to women. What parallels are made to the act of smoking cigarettes? It may surprise you.

9 comments:

Lars said...

The idea of women not being able to handle a man's cigarette and needing a cigarette tailored for the feminine hand that was used to advertise for Virginia Slims relates to our current theme, "Women and Children", in that women are less brute than men and incapable of doing what men do. Also the idea of women's role changing in society is shown not only in the name "You've Come a Long Way, Baby", but also through comparing the times when women were scolded for smoking cigarettes and now when they have their very own cigarette. I thought that women would be affected by this mentality for a long time to come but it is surprising how much things have changed since this commercial aired considering how many women would be offended, to the same advertisement that appealed to women during that time, if they were to see this advertisement today. So when is it going to be impolite to treat women special?

Sara D said...

Before watching the video I could not possibly understand why this was something to be viewed under our current theme of women and children. However, once i saw it it was obvious. The commercials showed that as womens rights of voting and such grew, the right to be able to smoke was also included. I think it is really interesting that they tried to make a cigarrette designed towards women, because mens cigarrettes were too large. I think this shows how delicate women were actually handled in society.

Josh said...

My favorite part in this video was when the women almost shed her clothing and cut of layers or cloth almost as if he was cutting off layers of rule and servitude and that if she had Virginia Slims then she could do that. This video shows how people think women were the weaker gender they need their own custom tailored cigarette. They are not capable of using mens.

The theme song " You've got your own cigarette now baby you have come a long way". This shows that the have gone through great lengths to vote and progress through history but they have now got their own cigarettes so because of that, women have no need to fight for themselves now.

Bernadette said...

I think the ad is very interesting living in today's times. The ad company likens suffrage to smoking in public. I actually do agree that those are somewhat related. In the 20s, many status quos changed with voting rights and activists like flappers. I think they brought up a key point for women. They harp on the fact that women are empowered and not there only to serve men. "Back in the old days, men were the masters, women were the slaves...Then at last women won their rights." The ad shows the company adapting to women's adaptation to society. I think it was a great ad in that it was effective. If I were watching that 50 some years ago and I smoked, I would probably have thought how great is it is that someone is paying attention to womens' needs.

But addressing the fact that cigarrette ads used to be targeted toward children and schools and on TV, I think the same is happening today with fast food. There is currently no legislation blocking fast food companies directly targeting children. There are happy meals, play houses and characters like Ronald McDonald that draw kids in. Also a large portion of fast food restaurants are within a short distance from a school. Most public and private schools in Chicago are only a five- to 10-minute walk from at least one fast-food restaurant, says a study in September's American Journal of Public Health. Cigarette ads and billboards used to be the same way before legislation was passed banning this. But I think one evil was just replaced with another. We should be standing up for the kids in our country who are easily influenced.

Hannah D. said...

This video really pinpoints how women were treated during a the sufferage movement. The part that was talking about how the men were the masters and the women were the slaves relates to the background information of that packet precisley because they addressed how women did all of the work. Like Josh said, I really liked the part of this video where the woman was shedding her clothing because I thought of the same thing as Josh did: she is shedding her enslaved years by smoking a cigarette just for women. Also, they talked about how women come off as weaker so they need to smoke a cigarette that is basically "tuned down" for them.

helfmank said...

Coming into the video, I had a general idea of what was to be expected. yet, after only thrity seconds, I thought it was a joke. How could this clip have been possibly realistic? Sending women to their room for punishment for smoking cigarettes. Then being able to get the chance to vote and being able to chose Virginia Slimms. In my mind, the clip portrays them as second class.In today's modern view of women, I see there being many parallels to the commercial. Rap videos, tv shows, movies. Lots of these One Tree Hill shows or james Bond movies portray women as something they are supposed to be. Which in my mind, I find it to be ubsurd.

Zmalkin said...

The first thing I wondered about was why the name for the cigarette's used the name of the state "Virginia". Is this because virginia is a southern state? Or one of the first states established?. Second, I could not help but notice the music being played during the commercial. The lyirics said "You've come along way, baby". Obviously the target audience for this advertisement is women meaning that women have come a long way. And now they have their own cigarettes as if that is a big accomplishment for women. In my opinion having your own cigarettes is not the reward from "coming such a long way". Things like voting and other equality rights make more sense to me as the rewards for those years of struggles.

Elizabeth L said...

-"SLIM" "tailored for feminine hand"
-"a beautiful cigarrette"
-in a slim purse bag
-"you've come a long way BABY!"
First of all is it really necessary to say baby at the end of the slogan "you've come a long way Baby"? I mean come on just in that it puts women down oh now you are sooo much better because you have your rights and actually mean something to this world. Even the fact that a man with a soothing low voice is talking throughout, why can't a girl be saying all this?
I also love how most of the time they just model these beautiful, graceful blonde girls just soo GlAMOROUS and SEXY, taking off her clothes. It's like ohh please is this really necessary. It reminds me of the victoria secret comercials with the european models whom talk with an accent and just are like fluff and spin around. This is how america views women in a sense even today, yet girls even men go along with it. The entire video broadcasts this show girl feature just entirely working it.
SLIM is the other word that connotates a picture, a picture filled with almost making you slimmer, like the diet comericials constantly shown on tv (especially MTV- how ironic? targeting teenage GIRLS) I find it sad that people fall for this irony.
But overall the thing that hit me the hardest was when they commented on women not being paid the correct "wages" they earned,making it seem like- now it is your time to shine and be a new women but in reality they are just giving everyone cancer. Thanks alot VIRGINIA SLIMS!

I also think it is interesting how you rarely see cigarette ads on tv and in magazines.

linzerfield said...

Watching those virginia slims commercials, the whole time i was just thinking that the man narrating the story was just saying "here ladies, have another way to be different from men," by pointing out that the feminine cigarettes were far more superior than those silly bulky male cigarettes...while at the same time saying, "it's ok, we'll let you be just like us now," inviting women into the male society...irony? It seemed to me that the image being projected to women seeing these comercials were supposed to be these dainty, gorgeous ladies. The male narrator (emphasis on male) even pointed out that the cigarettes were long and slim, suggesting that those women should be tall and slender, just like the women modeling the product... though all of the rights activists may have made a huge impact in society, I can't help but notice that it seemed that their lives were still being dictated to them subliminally by men. So the question I'm asking is, did the rights activists really make as big of a difference as they thought they did?