Sexuality of Women in Renault Commercials & Modern Oblivion

Is it a demented sign of acceptance when lesbian couplings can be depicted in car commercials? The commercial for the Renault Twingo Miss Sixty — a car seemingly marketed at women because it has floral decals on the exterior and comes in a girly shade of metallic pink — features two women at a party who make eye contact and the next thing you know, they’re stripping down in a bedroom and one is blindfolding the other. Then, the next thing you know, the one who was doing the blindfolding sneaks off and takes the other girl’s top and then you see her wearing the top and walking out to her car, which is the same color as the appropriated top. Watch the video for a clearer understanding:

On one hand, yay for not being afraid to depict lesbians in a tv commercial. Treat it as the normal thing that it is. It shouldn’t even be remotely surprising to see gays and lesbians depicted in commercials; it should be as normal as seeing heterosexual people depicted. I figure the more stuff like this happens, the more accepted it will all become and we’ll move away from the hatred and fear.

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t just a salacious way to get attention, in the way that many commercials often sexualize women as a way to get attention. Particularly when the commercial tells you nothing about the item being sold. Admittedly, the car is being marketed to women, somehow in conjunction with the Miss Sixty brand of clothing, so I suppose they’re less likely to be trying to appeal to men through a bit of nudge nudge wink wink.

For now, I’ll just be happy that at least an implied lesbian relationship can be shown on tv in a commercial. Well, not in Italy. In one of the more hypocritical moves, Silvio Berlusconi’s media companies have banned the commercial. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. The numerous media companies owned by Berlusconi — the prime minister of Italy, who is currently facing a variety of charges stemming from having sex with a underage prostitute — think the commercial isn’t right for Italian television. Have you ever seen Italian television or even some of the poster ads at bus stops there? Yeah …

*For what it’s worth, I was stuck on the title for this post and decided to turn to Leo Steinberg for inspiration and borrowed (tongue in cheek) from his Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion.

4 thoughts on “Sexuality of Women in Renault Commercials & Modern Oblivion

  1. Terrific piece, Ali! I haven’t seen it here in the UK, so I’m glad you called my attention to it.

    I think there are a lot of valid arguments to be made about how Renault’s ad plays into certain voyeuristic heterosexual tropes (Sexy girls! In their sexy undies! Indulging in a little sexy bondage!). But in Advertising World, this may be the best we can expect, and like you, I’m just really pleased to see positive (or at least neutral) depictions of gay people on the telly at all.

    But as you say, it slams right up against broader feminist frustrations: women being sexually objectified, no representation of women of non-white ethnicities, and certainly no compunction against marketing special sparkly pink cars to women either. Renault clearly believes that this ad is going to attract notice (mission accomplished!), but there’s something intrinsically gross about co-opting minority cultures to sell stuff, isn’t there?

    That said, I’m glad Renault’s embracing the idea of representing all kinds of car-buying demographics. In a crowded market, it’s a terrific way to differentiate their brand and, while they’re at it, make some small gesture towards progressive ideals. I kinda dig it.

    • Beautifully said as always, my friend! It really does leave one in a seesaw state, doesn’t it. As for the car itself, I believe it’s not being sold in the UK, just Europe and Morocco.

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