We're big fans of MAC Cosmetics and DC Entertainment's Wonder Woman line of makeup and other products. Like the Hello Kitty collection from Sephora, the Wonder Woman line is as cool and tasteful a cross-corporate marketing idea as you can find. But an animated promotional video for the Wonder Woman makeup leaves something to be desired. The clip, produced by MAC and featuring the beautiful artwork of the esteemed Michael Allred, depicts the Amazon princess in a battle against Medusa, who aims to turn the "MAC Girls" of the world into "Plain Janes." Naturally she is defeated by Wonder Woman, at which point makeup rains down from the sky.
The animation and storyline are the sort of cute, kitschy things that fans of Mike Allred's Madman are used to taking in a certain context: It's a joke, it's a bit camp, it's about the pop art sensibilities, it's not meant to be serious. But in the context of Wonder Woman, whom to many is seen as a feminist icon, "saving" the world from a villain who wants to strip away women's makeup and hairstyles seems in conflict with the character's idiom.
Obviously, this is a makeup commercial, and its job is to portray makeup as the answer to its viewers' problems, as is the case with any product. "In essence, every makeup commercial is saying in some way or another, 'Don't be ugly! Buy this!'" said Laura Hudson, Editor-in-Chief of ComicsAlliance. In that way, the Wonder Woman MAC video is actually quite clever, turning that very real message women are ceaselessly confronted with into a cartoon -- an actual battle between the forces of plainness and beauty.
"The overall effect of the commercial is light-hearted and entertaining, but I'm not necessarily sure that I'd give two thumbs up to the underlying message that if women don't prance around in a maelstrom of lipstick and eyeliner, their lives will become a Final Crisis of unattractiveness," Hudson added. "Also, I'm a little confused because the plain janes are still pretty hot."
Many adults will of course not be offended by this ad and take it as the bit of fun it's obviously meant to be, but the whole thing becomes a little uglier -- no pun intended -- when you take into account Wonder Woman's status as a role model for young girls and combine it with the ongoing debate over female standards of beauty in society.
We don't doubt that MAC, DC and Allred -- who draws an uncommonly powerful and beautiful Wonder Woman, it has to be said -- had pure intentions and were trying to make something fun and silly, but we have to wonder if this Wonder Woman ad missed the mark. What do you think?
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