Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reading Pictures: Levi's Outdoor Exposure

What is happening in this picture?

The model is exposing himself to us.

He sits on the corner of a car's trunk, legs slightly spread. His crotch is dead center of the image. A tarp, pulled up and tucked beneath his crotch reveals the car beneath, reinforcing and doubling the expression of "exposure". The position of the gathered tarp and exposed, protruding portion the the car draws further attention to his genital region and focuses energy into the image's center.

This is not a flirtatious exposure, but a menacing one, as is clear by the model's non-verbal expression. The fact that he is sitting on a car also has communicative significance. If the car belongs to someone else, it is an act of dominance and transgression. If it belongs to him it is a display of possession, of "owning".

It is no accident that the tarp is blue (jeans are blue) and the car red (the color of genitals flushed with blood).

Is it going too far to look for further connections between the car and sexualized behavior? Cars, in the context of advertising, are often fetishized sexual objects. Acts of indecent exposure often take place in modes of public and private transportation.


ka-kaw,Spartan said...

serious kudos to the agency if they in fact knew what they were doing. i suspect it was done by instinct and they didn't even realize all the deep mental judo they baked into that ad.

dave giles said...

It's an oldsmobile. Why would they pick and old man car like that? Flush with blood or not?

Thomas Sherman said...

for the very reason you cite.

It is a BIG car and a traditional male brand, one that speaks to masculinity and patriarchy and reproduction.. "your fathers oldsmobile"

Thomas Sherman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kathleen said...

Based on the Levi's 501 ads, they knew exactly what they were doing. The outdoor is more subtle, probably to prevent lawsuits from vehicle pile-ups.