The very first draft I submitted in October 2015 for my I Researcher was related to Twitter and its fandom. But the initial oomph factor of doing a research project on a Social Media platform died as quickly as it began. So after much reading I found something I was truly passionate about; and finalised my research topic as ‘The Sexualisation of Product and People in Fast Food Advertisements’.
We live in a day and age where advertisements occupy a large part of our social life. Many of these advertisements profile men and women as per their accordance in order to form a connection between product and people. The motto of several advertising agencies for the past few decades has quite simply been to sell sex. Men and women are commoditised as ‘sexy’ in order to increase sales and maximise revenue. Modern fast food chains, for example, attach the idea of sex appeal to their products where the object, i.e. fast food is sexualised through the discourse of the advertisement. My research focuses on critically analysing how fast food advertisements use sex appeal to target their audience.
Burger King’s advertisement for their Super Seven Incher Sandwich below is a clear such example. The positioning of the woman’s mouth and the sandwich and a play on the words “blow your mind away” is the company’s way of trying to maximise sales by sexualising their product.
Carl’s Jr. for the past decade has been releasing sexualised advertisements with bikini-clad women ravishing their burgers. Since the popularity of their very first advertisement the company has continued to objectify women and sexualise their advertisements. Celebrities like Kate Upton, Kim Kardashian, Padma Lakshmi and Paris Hilton – all have appeared in their advertisements.
The first part of my Media Research essay was focused on critically analysing three different journal articles falling in the same theme as my research topic. The feedback I received was quite good and also extremely helpful. One particular point of the feedback was not providing any images. It’s strange that up until I read so in the feedback it had not struck me to include any images of advertisements or sexualised food as part of my essay. There’s an odd unsaid rule in India where from middle school onwards images and pictures are not allowed to be included in essays or any other academic work for that matter (this of course does not include diagrams). Apparently it is assumed that images reduce the credibility of one’s work. And like a sheep in a herd I’ve followed that rule up until now – up until I realised how little sense it makes!
Over and above the images dab, I was also given feedback to develop further ideas and concepts surrounding feminism, post feminism and gender stereotype in advertisements since I had covered only a small part of the same in my essay. So keeping the feedback in mind I had moved on to the second part of the essay.
The second part of the Media Research essay was aimed at identifying a method of analysis and justifying the same with the help of materials (film, images etc.) For this part of the essay I chose a Carl’s Jr advertisement and three other advertisements by Burger King and Arby’s. The further I go into my topic the more companies I find sexualising fast food. How unfortunate, really.
In this segment of my essay I focused on a Qualitative method of analysis. A qualitative method of analysis focuses on the possibility of multiple meanings which is crucial to my research. It requires one to understand the context, the people and the interaction. Every individual is subject to an opinion and in my research topic it is imperative that I take that into consideration. This form of analysis research is involved in every step being responsive, flexible, adaptive and open-minded. I also further developed concepts of postfeminism and gender stereotyping in fast food advertisements basing it with the theme of my research.
I received quite a good feedback on my second essay. When our MA began and when we were introduced to the ideas of research we were told to pick a topic that we feel strongly about, that we’re passionate about. I’m more than happy to say that I am truly passionate about my topic because it drives me to read more, to find out more and to keep myself up to date with the happenings of the world. But of course, with yin comes yang. I probably may be too passionate. This was part of the feedback that I received in my second essay. I understand that I need to be a little more critical regarding my research topic – look at it from all angles.
The optional modules I have chosen in this second semester should help me to broaden my perspective and gain a critical edge.