Sexual tint to campus advertising unnecessary

“Want to show off your winter tan?” reads a Daily Message for ACE’s Jan. 17 Pool Party, “Dying to see hot girls out of their turtle necks?” If I remember correctly, last year’s advertisement for a similar event focused on the pool party’s wide array of beach balls and floats, and now ACE is marketing Chandler Pool as the set of MTV’s Spring Break.

In the past year, ACE has become the most prominent student organization on campus, so I thought it would be appropriate to highlight these particularly embarrassing advertising campaigns. Yet, they are only part of a disturbingly widespread trend of sexually-charged posters plastered onto every available surface on campus. During the last spate of a capella advertising, for example, one poster asked “Why is there no good porn in Massachusetts?” while another paired a phallic arrangement of beer bottles and billiard balls with the suggestive slogan “Goes down easy.” Personally, I was most incensed by a series of ads for a Halloween party built around the image of a naked female torso, her private parts concealed by strategically-placed pumpkins. Such ads indicate a cynical and grim shared conception of the average Williams student.

I applaud organizations like ACE for thinking beyond alcohol-based events, but it’s not enough to shift the emphasis onto alcohol’s close bedfellow, the drunken hook-up. As Stephen Collingsworth pointed out in a letter to the Record last semester, it’s both hypocritical and flat out strange that on a campus so routinely upset by the explicit nature of Gay Pride Week chalkings, images with a pornographic aesthetic or suggestive tone hardly draw any fire at all. Perhaps this is because the chalkings have been designed to promote dialogue about sex, while most of the advertisements I have mentioned simply use sex as a punchline, or treat it as something dirty and vaguely illicit. At this point in all our lives, we are fairly inured to heterosexually-charged advertising, and only dimly aware of how thoroughly it has infiltrated our culture. In short, it is a reasonable and realizable goal to tone down – if not eliminate – sexually-charged advertising on-campus.

To reach this goal, I in no way support censorship or a ban of any kind; instead, I call upon individual groups to act more responsibly in their advertising campaigns, and to ask themselves candidly whether they consider sexually charged writing and imagery to be an absolutely necessary selling point.

Colby Chamberlain ’04