An ad for the Playstation Vita handheld Sony video game system was pulled by the electronics giant shortly after it was posted to the company’s YouTube channel, when numerous online critics attacked the ad for its alleged sexism.
Sony has given no public reason for pulling the ad, in which an actress speaking in suggestive tones and with a British accent, dressed as a doctor, appears to encourage gamers — or anyone, for that matter — to masturbate.
“I bet you’ve already done it today. Or are you afraid you’re doing it too often?” asks the “sexy doctor” in the online ad. “In your bedroom under the blankets? Or perhaps you prefer the kitchen or the toilet? Or do you like it in the garden?”
As the Playstation Vita ad continues, the actress playing a doctor strikes a number of stereotypically seductive poses and facial expressions, before telling viewers that they shouldn’t feel bad because, in fact, everyone does “it,” and that she will be happy to do “it” with you, the viewer.
The camera then pulls back to reveal what “it” actually is — playing Playstation Vita.
The ad was quickly condemned for what its critics say was “pandering” to the sexist attitudes widely associated with video gaming in the public mind.
“Our sexy doctor is pretty clearly designed to entice the straight teen male demographic gaming companies have been pandering to for decades,” wrote Kwame Opam on the Verge site. “Even if the doctor merrily joins in on the fun (gaming, that is), it’s after the fact — she’s a sexy lady first and a gamer second, never fully eroding what the target always is. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being sexy, but that sexiness is in service of a male audience that’s fixed and behaves in a certain way.”
A number of other online publications reacted with similar disgust, with Jezebel calling the ad “stupidly sexist,” Business Insider labeling it “blatantly sexist,” and the Huffington Post slamming the Playstation Vita as as “blushingly sexist.”
The message was clear: The Playstation Vita ad, critics say, is sexist.
Boing Boing scribe Rob Beschizza took a different approach, dismissing the whole Playstation Vita ad campaign as “so dumb I’m convinced it must be fake!”
A lonely voice of dissent came from the online version of Forbes Magazine, which was no fan of the ad, but didn’t find it particularly objectionable either.
“It’s not particularly funny or effective, but it’s hard to get too worked up over the spot being ‘sexist’ or horribly offensive, despite the thin-skinned internet deeming it so,” Forbes gaming writer Eric Kain shrugged.
While Sony has pulled the Playstation Vita ad from its own site without comment, it has been reposted elsewhere and can be viewed above.