Target's new series of domestic labor ads all go something like this: a glowering model runwalks on screen wearing high-waisted (white) shorts, a white t-shirt, and white high heels, because it is obviously the future and everyone has adopted the standard THX 1138 monochromatic wardrobe in order to dress more efficiently. She is immediately presented with a very un-futuristic dilemma. The lightbulb has fizzled! A jar of pickles needs opening! Boxes of cake mix are spraying neon currents of partially hydrogenated powder ejaculate all over the place! How will future hausfraus climb a ladder in her heels, pry open the jar of brined cucumbers with her delicate arm muscles, or get those cupcakes ready for the PTA bake sale? With Target's help, of course (assuming, as we must, that this hausfraus has recently lost her domestic robot to a tragic toilet-cleaning accident).
Are these new ads, as AdRant's Steve Hall wonders, misogynistically misguided attempts at parody, or are they successfully parodic? Hall points out that, though Target's approach "aims to...parody fashion advertising, simply reinforces long-held stereotypes many would like to see eradicated." Exploding boxes of cake mix and orgasm oatmeal are a pretty obvious tip-off that Target's ad makers are, as in the parlance of our ironic times, "just kidding!" but, the ads don't quite reign in the stereotypes they're obviously trying really hard to skewer.
Women are still doing all the housework. They're doing it sexy-like, as if anybody performs any gritty tasks in heels. That's the joke, of course, but wouldn't it have been even more joke-y — since Target wanted so badly to make jokes about ejaculating baked goods — if the ads just featured male models doing all the exact same chores and wearing all the exact same outfits, right down to the heels? That sort of reversal would cut straight to the point of lampooning the absurd poses visual media often twists its female models into. Instead, Target has offered a series of ads that manage only to pay lip service to parody while swaddling themselves in a visual safety blanket of the same gender stereotypes advertisers have been relying on for years.