Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ladyfans: A Fairy Tale of the World Cup

A few quick thoughts on this story, of how Belgian soccer fan Axelle Despiegelaere, who attended the Belgium-Russia World Cup game, is now modeling for L'Oréal after being singled out in photos of the match:




You'll notice her unofficial fan page, created not long after the June 22 match, has more than 230,000 "likes," which I know can happen in a matter of hours but which is remarkable nonetheless. It's being spun as a fairy tale of sorts, along the lines of how film star Lana Turner was discovered at a Los Angeles drugstore. But I have to wonder how much this fairy tale is really a benefit to Despiegelaere, versus how much it's a benefit to L'Oréal. By seizing upon something that has much of the world in a frenzy for a full month*, the company A) gets exposure without having to actually sponsor anything in the World Cup, B) gets to seem particularly savvy, and C) plants itself inside the fantasy of many a pretty young woman of being "discovered" simply by being herself. It gives us a backstory, and should the Belgian's contract land her in a major campaign, it lets viewers associate a neat story with their product (and if any particular viewer doesn't know the backstory, no worries; it's still a beautiful young woman). It's brilliant.

The story is actually just a commodified extension of the way games are broadcast. Sports games are televised with plenty of crowd shots interspersed, in the hopes of transporting the home viewer into the stadium; the painted faces of hopeful or disappointed fans are a stand-in for ourselves. By plucking a lovely young creature out of those fan shots, that sense of proxy is doubled, except now there's the commodification of fandom involved. And let's not forget that it's commodification of female fandom, and that a solid third of the fan shots used in game broadcasts feature stunningly beautiful female fans (made all the easier by not only the internationalism of the tournament but by its location in Brazil, which exports many a young woman who suits the current tastes of the American modeling market). Turning women into one of the benefits of sports played by men has a long history, whether we're talking cheerleaders or the publicity given to WAGs. This World Cup has seen the connection cemented with two Kia commercials that show Adriana Lima and other Brazilian beauties seductively telling gaga male American football fans that their football—that is, what Americans know as soccer—is superior. The commercials annoy me for any number of reasons, primarily that I doubt men watch any particular sport on the basis of how pretty its female fans are (and that it ignores how many women across the world love the sport), but it's not like the agency that created the ads dreamed up "sex sells" all on its own.

But Despiegelaere's story isn't being marketed to men; it's a product and story squarely aimed at women. This fairy tale—normal girl is spotted and becomes internationally famous—is one that fits particularly nicely with the reality-show ethos that we find ourselves surrounded with: Anyone can become famous if you land yourself in the right kind of outlet. Frankly, I'm wondering why we don't see this narrative exploited more often by beauty lines. Who doesn't love a local girl made good, even if "local" is Belgium or Brazil? When it's a tale like this—of someone landing something generally seen as out of the reach of normal people, despite being a normal person herself—everyone becomes local.



*Myself included, as evidenced by The World Hair Cup. It's in the final round at last—vote now! Finalists are Côte d'Ivoire, Portugal, Chile, and Ghana. That's some remarkable hair.

10 comments:

  1. If it had been a male fan who'd become a model, now there's a story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent point! Funny how you never hear that kind of story, of men being plucked out of random crowds to be the next big thing. (Actually, I think I heard that about Keanu Reeves, that he was just accompanying a friend to an audition and was asked to read. But that's not quite the same thing.)

      Delete
    2. Yes! Being picked to be a model, IMO, is very different than being picked to be an actor.

      Delete
    3. Futbol > FootballJuly 11, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Not a sports fan or sports related, but that guy who got a modeling contract after his mug shot for a felony crime in California went viral.

      "The story is actually just a commodified extension of the way games are broadcast. " Aren't most stories, events, whatnots, just a just a commodified extension of the way life goes.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey! I've been meaning to tell you for months that I can't comment from an iPad. This is true on all Blogger blogs, and I'm not sure there's anything you can do about it. Still a fan!

    ReplyDelete
  4. http://nesn.com/2014/07/loreal-cuts-ties-with-belgian-world-cup-model-after-hunting-picture-emerges/

    ReplyDelete
  5. I always liked Ashley Harkleroad, she made a large splash by posing about the cover of Playboy, which is definitely good enough to obtain her rated pretty high.
    best american female tennis players

    ReplyDelete
  6. Before the determination was made to try out virtually any unconventionally physical exercise system, It's a good idea to do a very little homework 1st. The purpose of the subsequent review is usually to offer a number of methods frequently asked questions concerning the well-liked trx for sale Headgear Coach workout method.
    The concept regarding TRX Revocation Coaching was a idea of the past You Deep blue Close off and his teammates. Most of these significant athletes needed a moveable, flexible and effective strategy for residing in ideal Trx Suspension wherever the adventures could be.
    Fitness at any place, designer along with owner with the TRX, warranties it truly is goods with regard to one-year protecting any disorders around supplies as well as skillfullness. Also, cheap TRX for sale items have a very 30-day satisfaction ensure if you're the item isn't for you.
    The particular TRX insides coach is a adaptable as well as easy exercising procedure for convenient efficient exercises for strength training, main steadiness, flexibility, in addition to metabolic teaching. This TRX Straps is very easily transportable and so now you may exercise anywhere: at your house, on a trip, for the store, or even at the gym.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Web sites selling faux louis vuitton replica UGGs often use photos of actual UGG boots, chanel replica which can make it difficult to tell whether you're ordering a counterfeit version. But once you've got a pair replica shoes of boots in your possession, there are telltale differences. If your boots are made with real fleece-lined louis vuitton replica sheepskin, you won't be able to separate the fleece from the suede -- at least not without the help of sheep shearer chanel replica. Knockoffs are often composed of foam sandwiched between cowhide on the boot's exterior and fleece chanel replica on the interior [source: Kemp]. To find out what your UGG (or counterfeit UGG) is made of, grasp the inside of the boot with one hand louis vuitton replica and the outside with the other, and attempt to pull them apart from each other. If you're able to separate them chanel replica, you're probably holding a fake.

    ReplyDelete