YouTube project nets over 475K views in one month

A YouTube video that was filmed and edited by several University of Saskatchewan students has gone viral, with over 475,000 views since publication on April 3, 2013.

The video, titled Representations of Gender in Media, is a school project that was created for a Women and Gender Studies class at the University of Saskatchewan by Sarah Zelinski, Kayla Hatzel and Dylan Lambi-Raine.

The group wanted to show how the media portrays gender roles and stereotypes in advertising.

And it’s absolutely hilarious.

The video showcases some seriously outdated advertisements that feature overtly sexualized gender roles. The students cast several of their friends in a role-reversal throughout the video.

It’s both eye-catching and thought-provoking.

Did we mention absolutely hilarious?

Ominocity caught up with Sarah Zelinski, one of the students responsible for the video, on going viral, feminism and YouTube comments gone wild.

Ominocity: This was originally meant as a school project. So when you were filming and putting this all together did you have any idea this video would go viral?

Sarah Zelinski: No, not at all! We didn’t really expect many more than our 30 classmates to see it. I think in the back of our minds, at least mine, we all kind of hoped it would go viral and we joked about it, but never actually believed it would.

OM: A lot of big sites are sharing this video as well – dare I say you struck a chord? Have you thought about following this up?

SZ: I’m still stunned by the response. We owe Upworthy.com for giving us the major push that made us go viral because they’re such a massive website with tons of followers. Having Bitch Magazine share our video was really cool too and an honour because I’ve been a big fan of them for years. And yes, we definitely would like to do more. The three of us have discussed doing more related videos and Dylan and I are planning on making one in NYC this summer. We’ve even been contacted by a couple other organizations asking if we could make videos for them too. So we’ll see what happens!

OM: The video sparked a lot of comments and discussion on YouTube about the subject matter. How do you feel about the wide ranging reactions to the video?

SZ: More or less the reactions and comments we’ve received have been positive, however feminism is a touchy topic and once the video started getting big the attack comments flooded in. It was kind of expected so none of us are taking it personal. Most are so ridiculous that we just have to laugh them off. A couple favorites so far “women have a genetic predisposition to being objects” “Realize that females always & forever will be sexual objects. Get over it.” “Fucking feminist as shit video.. . get over yourself” and “but i like tits..”

OM: What was the best part about putting out this video? Would you do it all over again?

SZ: The overwhelming response has been amazing and it feels great to know that we reached so many people. Several people and organizations from around the world have contacted us requesting to use the video for teaching purposes. There probably isn’t anything more rewarding than that. The entire process from start till now has been incredible and is exciting; our hard work really paid off. We were really lucky to have such a great group of people to work with during the photoshoots and we all had a blast together. I think it’s safe to say that all of us would definitely do it again!

Representations of Gender in Advertising

Representations of Gender in Advertising

Representations of Gender in Advertising

192 Responses

  1. RW

    Why didn’t they use good looking men to do the role reversal? They didn’t use fat, chunky, ugly women for the original. The men looked more ridiculous than the Ad or the message.

    • A

      That is the point, both that if it is a man in the ad it looks ridiculous as men aren’t subjected to over sexualization, and that men can get away with being chunky and not so attractive. Women cannot.

  2. Erin Gee

    As much as I like the topics explored in this video, I find the spoof a little off. The idea that putting “men” into womens’ roles was ridiculous was highlighted by ironic music and men that looked as far away from male fashion models as possible. The question really is: are these ads ridiculous because men are in them, or is it actually just ridiculous because they are unattractive men according to the norms of advertising campaigns.

    • maorsi

      I’m so glad you made this point because these were my thoughts exactly. The men looked unattractive purposefully and the women looked good, made-up, and well-dressed for most of the pictures. I didn’t see any gender role reverse here at all. The first part was well-done, with the disturbing fashion images and well-put together facts, but the second part was giving the impression that guys are just soooo funny (giggle, giggle). I think this video killed its own point about half way.

  3. Mike

    That Ketchup ad is like 50 years old. I would love to see agneder studies group look at how the fathers and men are idiots in commercials. Could the Rav 4 Genie commercial joke about a women being too fat? Or her kids not knowing she was alive? Would there ever be an Honda commerical where the silly wife plays with the seats in Van while the competent husband waits with groceries?

    No there couldn’t becuase gender studies classes are looking at Ketchup adds from 1950 and calling it topical.

    Commercials overwhelmingly project men as dumber than women and as childish idiots.

  4. Anne

    I would like to thank the students for making this video. It is poignant and compelling. I completely disagree with Chris Morin, however; it isn’t hilarious. there is nothing funny about the way women are portrayed in the media. I cried watching this video.

    • Julie

      I found parts of the mock photos funny, but some real ads made me cry too… Some of them I had never seen before and I don’t know how the companies got away with making them, or getting them published in magazines! Where are the morals of the designers, models, photographers, editors…?

  5. Miranda Brown

    Mostly very extreme & disturbing examples of amoral advertising.These ads seem
    designed to offend. (Any attention is good attention…)Don’t know where they found them, certainly not in mainstream publications, (one hopes!) I’ve personally never seen anything that disturbing. It would be helpful to know where the ads were published, so we could give them some $#%!

    Less extreme examples might lead to a more subtle investigation or discussion of our cultural slide into insensitivity. I think the gender-reversal is counter productive, since portraying any human being in those scenarios is abusive. The ads are so outrageous in themselves, why would we need this? I don’t find it funny.There is no subtlety, perhaps another symptom of our growing insensitivity as a culture.

  6. Mark

    The only thing proven in this video is that the author is engaging in an activity just as biased and sexist as is directly oppositional to the supposed anti-sexist message of the video.

    “[The video is] absolutely hilarious” says Morin. Well, that’s quite interesting that you find it hilarious Morin, because looking at the “outdated” ads that obviously are extremely sexist, one could very easily surmise that these ads drew attention when directed at the bigots and sexist men who “got off” on seeing women objectified.

    The problem is, men are equally being objectified in this video, and you’re find that “fucking hilarious” eh? I guess we should, in the name of educational liberties, hold the view that art is allowed to stand outside of mainstream advertising as a commentary.

    The only problem is that men are objectified in ads today as well as women, much like they are in the video. Ads feature men portrayed as the dumb husband, with the “all-knowing” wife holding the REAL power in relationship, (namely the power to purchase, for advertisers). This sort of reverse sexism is the new “phad” these days, as you certainly know by your suggesting the video is “fucking hilarious.”

    The problem is that this video demonstrates the hypocrisy that exists in the world; the immature impulsive drive to strike back immediately at a perceived wrong instead of taking the higher ground. Obviously ads objectifying both genders is wrong, but based on my viewing this video exploits sexism against men to gain attention and popularity; perhaps once having good intentions, it does no more than propagate the gender wars more than offering a solution. Hence you have obvious idiots attacking back (“fucking feminist as shit video..”) with ridiculous replies that obviously are going to be shown as the male defense which stand to embolden the male “dumb” stereotype.

    I believe men and women are equal, however I believe that this video serves to further the divide between the sexes.

    Now listen. Men and women are both players in a bigger game. Problems that exist with both genders are OUR problem, collectively. When you write an obviously superficial article about a video which objectifies men as its focus and consider it “absolutely hilarious,” you are part of the problem. You’re writing sensationalism, and you’re promoting a biased viewpoint.

    There is so much trash like this on the internet, much of it is much worse than this. This one is written passively enough that the sexism can easily go unnoticed as many will be laughing at the objectification of men.

    But you can’t be to blame for what others find amusing right? If you happen to include a video that has gone viral which includes male (and female) objectification but subconsciously supports the gender wars for viewers, you can’t help that society likes that, right?

    If you write an article about a video that appears on the surface to be anti-sexist while combating sexism with sexism, that’s ok, as long it’s what people WANT to see, right?

    Does this not sound a bit like advertising? The only difference with advertising, is that it openly employees sexism. I would suggest that you try thinking a little deeper about the message you’re putting out there before you cover stories in this fashion.

    • Master Tex

      Human males are initially almost 100% attracted to the opposite sex by appearance. Appearance is not the most important attraction to a male for human female. What is really happening in our modern society is that reproduction is no longer the prime drive for human interaction.