If there’s one day of the year when parents are guaranteed to get the kids to set down their gadgets and come out of their rooms for some good, old-fashioned family television viewing, Super Bowl Sunday is it. More than 100 million viewers tune in on the first Sunday in February — kids included — to watch the ultimate gridiron matchup and, of course, the commercials.
Sounds like good, wholesome family fun, right? Except Super Bowl commercials have a long and not-so-pleasant history of being sexist and degrading towards women. Which is the exact opposite of fun and wholesome, and troubling for parents who are trying to raise both daughters and sons to recognize that the sexual degradation of women has got to go.
But do kids actually notice the sexist undertones of Super Bowl commercials? Do we really need to interrupt shoving our faces with pizza and wings to talk about the objectification of women? Maybe you should ask the kids. We did!
For the second year in a row, SheKnows asked the teens in our #Hatch program to take a look at some of the most popular Super Bowl commercials … to see what it is the kids will actually notice, and take away, from the ads. What they say might just surprise you:
Still think you can just watch the game, and all of that sexist stuff will go over your kids’ heads?
Whether overt or blatant, the sexism in Super Bowl ads clearly hasn’t gone away … despite increasingly vocal protest from the viewership. What’s more, our kids notice. Even when they’re laughing, as the #HatchKids did at Kevin Hart’s over-protective father in that Hyundai ad, they’re smart enough to know that the old “dad knows best” schtick is tired, old and incredibly offensive to young women everywhere (By the way, Hyundai struck out even worse with its Ryan Reynolds’ Ryanville ad, which got an average score of 2 from the #HatchKids).
Nor do ads with older references, ie. Marilyn Monroe’s famous subway skirt photo, simply go over their heads. They watch. And they take in how women are treated.
Our kids are smart. We get that. Yay us. That means when an ad gets it “right,” we can pat ourselves on the back because our kids are all over that, right? Wrong.
They might key in to the positive, but it never hurts to reinforce how refreshing it is. When SheKnows surveyed women to find out how they feel about the Super Bowl ads, 60 percent said they’re watching the game for the ads, but just 2 percent said they feel like they’re directed toward them. Having Helen Mirren dare to be a beer drinker (yes, women can enjoy a brewski … responsibly, of course), be the focal point of an entire ad and actually have something important to say (!?) shouldn’t be so revolutionary, and yet, it was.
OK, enough talking, right? Time for some football? Well, about that.
The NFL’s anti-domestic violence ad might have gotten a 10 from the #HatchKids, but the fact that the kids saw fit to give the folks behind the scenes a rating of just 1 for paying mere lip service to the issue is reminder that when our kids are swallowing up flashy, candy-coated ads, they’re not seeing the machinations of the companies behind them. It’s easy to buy that a company or product is what the commercial portrays, thanks to the brilliance of good lighting and quippy jokes. But we aren’t just raising kids, we’re raising future consumers … and we want them to be SMART consumers.
Let’s face it: this conversation can’t stop after that last touchdown is made, the Super Bowl MVP named. Advertisers are in our kids’ faces everywhere and every day. Even in a world of commercial-free on-demand programming, children ages 2 to 11 see an estimated 25,600 ads every year, 40 percent of that from non-children’s shows.
Let that sink in: 25,600 ads … in a year.
Our kids are watching.