New Apple Ad Doesn't Use The Male Gaze

New Apple Ad Doesn't Use The Male Gaze

Much is being made about the decision to make the voice of Siri, the iPhone 4S audible assistant, recognizably female. A lot of ostensible social science gets trotted out in these discussions, but very little of it stems from actual scientific research. It's just a hodgepodge of received wisdom and urban legend posing as information. 
 
(The obvious best solution would be to allow users to choose whether they want their phone to speak in a male, female, or androgynous voice.)
 
All of which made me even more surprised when I realized what was happening in the most recent iPhone 4S television ad. The first thing I noticed was that women are well-represented in the ad. (In fact, bucking the norm in mass media, more than half of the actors are female.) I was mentally congratulating Apple on truly daring to "think different" when I realized something even more astonishing: we're not looking at their boobies.

 
The ad frames all of the adult actors so that only their torsos are in view. The frame cuts off the top of their heads at about the jawline, and cuts them off at the bottom at around elbow height. For any other product in THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD, this would mean that we would spend the entire ad staring at the women's breasts. Cleavage would be on display, shrink-wrapped and packaged for the classic male gaze.

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Instead, the women are dressed… you know, like normal people. They are of normal cup size (i.e. not the gigantic melons you usually see on television). Their necklines do not plunge. Their shirts do not cling. Their midriffs are not bared. One woman is jogging in a tank top, but she is holding her camera-side hand up to her ear such that nothing is on display.
 
In other words, this single ad respects women more than… pretty much the entire rest of the advertising industry, if not the entire Western media empire.
 
The male gaze is ubiquitous in media. So much so that it comes as a real shock to see an actual gender-neutral gaze being used in camera. Particularly for a somewhat frivolous item that no one really needs. (Those are usually the things they have to convince us to buy, which they usually do by draping a pretty lady across it.)
 
I don't think this ad is going to receive nearly the acclaim that it deserves. In its own quiet way, it is a thousand times more revolutionary than their most famous ad of 1984.