Women in Tech, Best Buy, and Media Messages

Last night I tweeted about the following Best Buy ad, which first aired during the Super Bowl:

Watched it? Okay, good.  The ad features a series of inventors, mostly of things related to smart phones, and they’re all men.  I tweeted the following:





Mostly people retweeted without comment, but at least two people said, they’re just aiming at their target market: men.  Okay.  I get that.  I also get that it is actually hard to find a slew of women directly responsible for something smart-phone related that everyone’s heard of.  Though there is a list of some things here. But here’s the thing, the commercial is a) airing during a show I am watching, so clearly men can’t be their only target audience; and b) a commercial isn’t just a commercial.  So, about a).  I have written about a couple of hilariously bad experiences at Best Buy before.  I go into Best Buy all the time and usually walk out empty handed.  The only thing I’ll say is their stores = their commercial, all guys all the time.  Demographics are working against them.  More than 50% of the population are women and many of them make more money than their spouses and/or have no spouses.  And they like their technology.  Just sayin’.  It would be good business sense to at least try to appeal to women.

About b).  Here’s where my having my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition pays off, though I think a good couple of classes would be equally useful.  Lesson one in Rhetoric is that everything sends a message.  That Best Buy commercial isn’t just trying to sell me a smart phone.  It’s also telling me that men do the inventing, men like tech, and men buy tech.  Women, shown at the end, sell the tech.  Honestly, it’s one step above booth babes. Is it sexist? Not blatantly, no.  And Best Buy certainly has no obligation to attract women into the tech industry.  But they’re certainly not helping.  And by not helping, they may also be hurting their own bottom line.

How technology, especially video games, is ruining us all

I have a Google search feed with the key words “video games education” in it because I have an interest in the use of video games for learning.  What I find interesting, however, is that a certain portion of articles that come through this feed are not about that, but are about how video games are terrible in multiple ways.  Among recent titles and pull-out quotes are these:

  • With technologies such as the Internet, video games, television and iPods, it’s difficult to get together and spend some time with your family.
  • Texting, video games, iPods, and Facebook have replaced playing, daydreaming, reading, and creating.
  • US: Women gain in science while video games hold back boys
  • I think alot [sic] of teacher really are doing there [sic] job but the parents got to get involve more instead of letting those kids watching tv,playing video games,etc
  • Besides, they have a BETTER WORK ETHIC than a lot of lazy, ENTITLED American children with their video games, ipods, cell phones, and tvs in their rooms.

That last is from a comment on a protest by NJ teachers, who are potentially going to be laid off as a result of some severe cuts to education that Gov. Christie is proposing.  I couldn’t find the comment he/she was responding to, but it’s pretty easy to guess what the substance of it was.

There’s a whole “kids these days” kind of tone to many of these articles, blaming them for their immersion in technology, sometimes blaming the parents.  I was kind of glad to see tv thrown in there a couple of times, because often people regard television watching as superior to spending time online.  I’d rather my kids play an online game for an hour than watch some of the stuff that’s on tv.  Even though these articles are not what I’m looking for, I find they provide an interesting perspective on the portrayal of video games in the media.

And yes, I know it’s WoW Wednesday and I’ve been remiss in posting.  I promise two more posts today, actually, a WoW one, and an exciting review.  Stay tuned!