Over the past few years, getting offended by the GoDaddy commercial has become a Super Bowl tradition. The gratuitous objectification of 2012’s body-painted domain bit elicited feminist eye-rolling, while 2013’s ad — in which the “sexy” Bar Refaeli made out with “smart” anonymous nerd-guy — united feminists, nerds, models, and the bros who love them in righteous indignation.
This year, feminist media literacy organization the Representation Project (behind the documentary Miss Representation) came prepared. There was a designated hashtag, #notbuyingit, along with an app for cataloging all the sexist Super Bowl ads. But rather than the usual avalanche of breasts and hair, viewers were treated to a series of sentimental spots about puppies, horses, cows, and America the beautiful. Winking at past years’ controversy, GoDaddy’s commercial objectified a bunch of male bodybuilders.
Which is how this fairly innocuous Volkswagen ad, in which all of the “German engineers” are men — except for the one who gets accidentally groped in the elevator — came to be Twitter’s unofficial Most Sexist Super Bowl ad of 2014. The commercial aired not long after ad for GoldieBlox, the toy company that hopes to use girl-friendly construction kits to get more girls to pursue a career in engineering. Progress?