Monday, February 11, 2013

To Infinity

AXE, the adolescent fragrance line, has taken a note from Redbull. They're sponsoring a private trip to space and using it to advertise their product line, Apollo. However, the 'astronauts' on the trip won't be some daredevil or the CEO; they're holding a competition where contestants must be up-voted. The top ten will then go to space camp, and the two that do best there will strap in and ship out to space.

Both AXE and Redbull produce products largely aimed towards males, and, arguably, towards white males. AXE, obviously, is made for males only, so it makes sense for them to only advertise to males. They do have some commercials featuring non-whites (see below), but they all give about the same message.


As in all AXE commercials, the spot implies that using AXE products negates women's sexual selection process, and they will all but lay down and spread their legs for you based on the scent. Effective for a teenage boy. The product supposedly allows the teenager to enter into a fictional realm of happily ever after. It will create an aura around him of sexual worthiness, much like that of the hero of myth.

The new product line, Apollo, takes it one step further. Watch this commerical:

Earlier AXE commercials merely gave ordinary boys (I will not say men) the ability to catch a sexually willing woman without any sort of effort. No clear job, no saying hello, no smile. Divine women would lower their standards for him, just because he smelt good. With the Apollo line, boys don't even have to compete with the handsome, athletic, and productive. It doesn't even the playing field, but gets rid of it with a mask of musk.

I love, love, love these commercials because they are pretty clear evidence of my theories on New American Mythology. "Nothing Beats an Astronaut ... Ever" I mean, come on, that's awesome. It reverses the 'angels fall to earth' scheme to 'we'll send yo to the heavens'. Even the tagline for the space academy competition creates a sense of epic purpose: "Leave a Man. Come back a Hero" Its so beautifully full of New American Mythology.

AXE is using the Astronaut to sell their products to teens who subscribe, subconsiously or not, to the mythology behind the archetype. The Astronaut always wins, the Astronaut is the hero. And its not a phenomenon only AXE has picked up on:

This minute-long origin story implies that all babies (read: the winning sperm) are Astronauts.  They go through an mystical epic journey launching from an eden [West] to the unknown of Space, to arrive here on Earth. How heroic.The fact that the dad 'saves the day' (obscures the truth) and turns on the CD player via voice command serves to reinforce the idea of the fictionalized world as better than reality.

That is to say, the ideas behind Mythology hold a more valuable lesson than those of science. And this is an American truth. You, small boy, were one out of a whole planet, chosen(?) to launch into space and arrive here. You are special. E pluribus unum. Because you did that, you can do so much more, like get any girl to throw herself on you, and all will be well.

Star Trek, 2009
AXE Apollo worked for resident nerd Spock.
How else would he have gotten Uhura over Kirk? Brains? psh.

 It is a much nicer thing to say than: After a lot of maturation, courting, and financial stability, your mother and I did the horizontal mambo, where one of my sperm happened to run into one of your mom's ~400 eggs at the right time, and made it through the crazy thing called gestation without any major mutations or hiccups. One day you can do that too, but only after you figure out how to make your advantages stand out more than your flaws to a woman, then convince her its a good idea to commit to you (or vice versa), and then hope that everything will not be disastrous.

The odds are against us all. We need mythology to give us some direction in our lives, to give us aspirations, to give us examples of what we could do. AXE is tapping into the mythology blurring the line of reality even more. Whoever goes up is not going to be a real astronaut, not in the sense of James Lovell or Buzz Aldrin- they won't be in charge. They will get a simulacra of an experience in which all will be real except for their actual roles as astronauts. But that's not the point. AXE isn't just offering a free ride to space; it's offering an escape from reality.

Plan B: Cosplay!
Found here.

AXE Apollo promises to the males out there that they can, in fact, become the Astronauts they see in the movies. The AXE Apollo campaign will send you to Space, to infinity. Just like Disneyland and Universal Studios, AXE Apollo Space Academy allows you, the person from reality, to enter the realm of mythology. Just a a fashion photo shoot in TeenVogue promises young girls buying such-n-such products will make you more like a 'princess'/heroine, therefore more appealing, and therefore happier, AXE Apollo promises to make boys more of a hero, more appealing, and therefore happier.

Emma Watson in TeenVogue, August 2009
The situation is a bit ridiculous, but, hey, I'm jealous.

The difference in a fashion magazine and a TV commercial, however, is very, very different. In the relevance hierarchy of New American Mythology, print media is always at the bottom AND heroic epic always trumps fairy tales.* If 'nothing beats an Astronaut', where does that leave Ms. Watson? As far as I could tell magic couldn't launch her into space, and those ponies can't pull a carriage10ft, let alone to the moon.

Advertising heroism to only men has multiple implications to both male and female psyche. However, I'll save that rant for the next post: And Beyond

*Or not. I'm currently working out the new fairy-tale fad.

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