About BMC 277: Media and Diversity

This course asks students to critically examine the role of the media in facilitating and challenging the social constructions of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in U.S. culture.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Women, Stereotypes, and Applications: Pepsi's AMP Up Before You Score

Sam Guenther

Though the Pepsi Company has previously released many promotions and commercials exploiting a woman’s sexuality, it’s newest product may have crossed the line. In the interest of promoting their new energy drink, AMP, the Pepsi Company recently released an iPhone application titled “AMP Up Before You Score.” Immediate criticism of the product has been so abundant, that PepsiCo officials have release an apology about its content. When investigating this application, it is not hard to understand why. This application intends to provide men with tips to “improve their game”, but instead illustrates to the public the social construction of gender stereotypes and the ideology that insists masculinity is valued over femininity.

The application, which is available only to people seventeen and older, promises to equip users with the tools necessary to hook up with 24 stereotypical women. To use, customers of the app begin by choosing from two dozen generic female profiles such as the “Artist”, “Nerd”, “Cougar”, or “Tree Hugger.” Following the selection of a stereotype, users then flip the card of, for example, the “Rebound Girl”, and are given a cheat sheet listing her various interests while simultaneously providing them with pick-up lines and directions to local ice cream shops.

In examining the similarity of each female stereotype within the application, one can observe the social construction of femininity. Though 24 different drawings of women are available to choose from, each picture is slightly different from the next, though all have an enhanced chest, tiny waist, and round hips. While the clothing and hair of each female changes according to their specified stereotype, all outfits portray sexuality; revealing their bust, stomach, or both. “AMP Up Before You Score” normalizes the idea that women’s bodies are the only thing of use to a man. In addition to the idea that women must use their bodies as a commodity to men, AMP’s built-in features make it seem as if one can scientifically “score” by exploiting the socially constructed naivety of women.

Users simply choose the best fitted stereotype to place a woman into and are instantly given her characteristics and interests. For example, if a user decides a woman is a “Tree Hugger”, the app can provide them with “Your Fake Carbon Footprint Number”, Twitter posts about going green, and various vegan restaurants that she would enjoy. AMP, like much of consumer media, is constructing a woman’s personality and interests before a person has even spoken to her. Rather than learning the individual herself, users place a woman in a stereotype culturally constructed and portrayed by the Pepsi Company. Ultimately, all women are one-dimensional bodies meant for male exploitation.

Most critically, “AMP Up Before You Score” promotes an extreme ideology in which males are valued above females. This is exemplified by the fact that the app gives users a scoreboard to keep track of their conquests. AMP allows users to keep a “Brag List” of the women in which they have slept with. They can include the woman’s name, the date, and whatever details they wish to remember. The user’s “Brag List” can then be shared through email, Twitter, and Facebook.

The application dehumanizes a woman by illustrating her as nothing but a passive object to be pursued. This product, specifically geared towards men, encourages male dominance by objectifying women into a plaything to be won. The basic idea behind its content is that women should be won, used, and then tossed away. Furthermore, the fact that the app allows users to make their conquests public, further normalizes that the only use for a woman is that of game and pleasure. “AMP Up Before You Score” clearly shows that socially acceptable media has not progressed along with our technology.

Works Cited

Fredrix, Emily. "PepsiCo iPhone app draws fire for stereotyping." Yahoo Tech News. The
Associated Press, 14 Oct. 2009. Web. 17 Oct. 2009.

Hein, Kenneth. "Should Pepsi Pull Its AMP app?" AdWeek. Nielson Business Media, 14
Oct. 2009. Web. 17 Oct. 2009.

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