Animals and Us   /   Spring 2019   /    Notes And Comments

Who Pays for the Buy?

In the long run, we all pay dearly.

Karen Corinne Herceg

THR photo illustration.

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is inadvertently locked outside his hotel room wearing only his underwear. The hotel maid who shows up to open his door snaps a phone photo of the handsome athlete and departs in a sultry saunter, quickly posting the image online. The photo immediately goes viral thanks to Altice USA, the maid’s service provider. But this is a commercial—hence the implausible attractiveness of everyone involved, including the maid, who looks like a runway fashion model.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the “joke” of the social media posting, including Ronaldo himself. Naturally, there were critics, and then the critics of the critics, complaining that “a big deal” was being made “out of nothing.” Altice is using sex and sensationalism to sell its product. So what? This is nothing new. Scantily clad women sell automobiles: Buying the car will get you the girl. What you have is more important than who you are. In truth, the gender identification is irrelevant. The ad degrades us all by objectifying the people involved. It invades their privacy and exploits them for their looks, their bodies, their finances, or the vulnerability of their situations. Someone could have snapped a photo of Ronaldo in action on the soccer field and posted it, with that photo going viral in seconds as well. But that’s just not sexy.

Altice isn’t the only brand capitalizing off Ronaldo. He also appeared in a provocative ad for Armani jeans. We see him dressing in a hotel room while a maid eyes him hungrily. As Ronaldo scours the room searching for his shirt, bare chested and wearing only the jeans, the maid finds his shirt and hides it under a seat cushion. She slyly keeps it hidden in order to extend the time she can spend taking in Ronaldo’s muscled torso as he casts about for the lost shirt.

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