Are you in possession of a vagina? Well then! Surely you must be longing for some diamonds, as well. At least that's what your television would have you believe, as diamond-hawking season is in full swing, with holiday ads pushing everything from bracelets to earrings to "8th anniversary of that time we ate hot dogs and you were all, 'Hey, I like ketchup, what do you know!'" momento keepsake rings. Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon points out the increasing horribleness of holiday diamond advertisements, pointing out a ridiculous commercial wherein a husband who buys his wife a very nice vacuum cleaner is sent to "the doghouse" with a bunch of other husbands who've screwed up with their spouses. The ad, as Marcotte says, "might be the most obnoxious and obvious example" of the annoying "buy your wife diamonds- or else!" sales pitch, and I'm inclined to agree with her. Clip after the jump.
It's bad enough that the commercial relies on the old "You suck, husband! You bought a shitty present and need to be punished" routine, but the fact that the wives come off as greedy, materialistic, and somewhat insane doesn't help matters either. The doghouse scenes read like a bad version of an already bad sitcom, wherein the dumb husband makes a sexist remark, and the wife, while trying to defend herself, does so in a manner that makes her sound like a shrill nag. Because women wanting respect and equality are soooo annoying! You better buy them some diamonds so they'll shut up, boys!
But as Marcotte points out: "I think the most depressing part of this advertising blitz around every gift-giving opportunity is that a lot of people live their lives in this way, where women’s compliance is bought off by a false pretense that women have power and a lot of shiny baubles." And she's right: there is no happiness in this commercial at all; there is rarely a sense of happiness in any diamond commercial that doesn't seem to come from the gift itself. "Tell her you love her," the commercials begin, "Tell her you'd marry her all over again." Yes! Tell her that! Go on ahead. But you don't need a $3,000 ring to make this happen.
Love is easily marketed: the equation of a ring's worth with a person's worth is nothing new. But where commercials once tried to sell us on romance and memory, they are now trying to sell us on security: for men, it's a way to prove their love, or, as the commercials would have you believe, something that is "owed" to their wives for the "services" they provide in every day life. For the woman, apparently, diamonds are a necessary payment of sorts, something that has been earned and is expected. Which is why, in commercials such as this, the women seem to hold the power over their mates. The strange and disturbing nature of these commercials isn't lost on Marcotte, who notes, "When a more powerful person makes the jewelry gesture, then it invokes unpleasant associations. But if you pretend that the woman holds all the cards, then the gift of diamonds feels more like ass-kissing, and everyone can laugh it off, because it’s just a game anyway. Like all acting, I can see how it works, but it doesn’t mean I have any skills to do it, even if I wanted to."
This type of advertising makes both genders look stupid, greedy, and shallow. And yet millions of people will wake up on Christmas morning and find a tiny box under the tree. The gift itself isn't an ugly thing: it's the intentions behind it. Do some people buy jewelry because they enjoy it and know that their significant other would enjoy it as well? Of course. But if the thought behind the gift is one of obligation, a sort of bizarre holiday transaction to ensure relationship peace for at least another year, then perhaps diamonds aren't really anyone's friend, after all.
Diamonds To Hold You Over Until February [Pandagon]