Animals Awake, a Dutch organization for animals akin to PETA in the U.S., “takes a page from [their] playbook,” according to David at Adfreak. This commercial, in which a stripper is brutally murdered in front of a live audience, is so shocking that my first I thought was that it was a parody. It’s not.
Major major major trigger warning:
The critique, of course, is that Animals Awake is contributing to an atmosphere in which violence against women is ubiquitous (see Jezebel, for example). But I actually think that this commercial works in that we are (I hope) genuinely horrified by the murder at the end. I don’t think it normalizes violence against women like so many other ads/media/products do (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for examples).
BUT it does normalize the connection between violence and sex. There is absolutely no reason why the person murdered in this ad had to a stripper. There is no reason to spend the first half of the commercial titillating us, only to have it suddenly turned into a horror show. There’s absolutely no connection. But because sex and violence are so frequently linked in the American imagination, it actually took me a few minutes of thinking about it to remember that. And I’m kind of horrified that, in my mind, sex and violence go together like peas and carrots. This ad only reinforces that connection.
Sorry I made you watch it.
Here’s another PSA, this one from the U.K., with exactly the same idea.
UPDATE: In the comments, jeffliveshere points out that the commercial is based on a pun:
I agree that the sex and violence connection is unnecessary–but, to be clear, there is wordplay involved–“stripping fish” is apparently a technical term for removing the guts of fish…
Okay, so maybe there isn’t “absolutely no connection.” Even so?
—————————Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.