'Distracted Boyfriend' Meme Declared 'Sexist' By Swedish Advertising Monitor
We've all seen it. It's a meme that has become ubiquitous in recent times - 'Distracted Boyfriend'.
It's actually a stock photo from 2015, but it has been transformed into one of the most immediately recognisable shots ever taken. A man and his girlfriend walk along a road, but his eyes have wandered to another girl passing by on the road and his girlfriend is less than impressed by this.
Seriously, if you aren't immediately aware of it, then please question your friends' meme-sharing abilities.
Anyway, it's been used for everything possible by this point, even passing through the looking glass (and, by extension, out of meme usefulness) by being used commercially and for advertising purposes.
Now, it has caused another controversy after a body responsible for deciding whether adverts are appropriate has found that it is 'sexist'.
Yes, the Swedish advertising ombudsman has ruled that it 'objectifies women' after it was used in a series of Facebook recruitment adverts for the Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof.
They posted a version of the meme - which is originally called 'Man Looking at Other Woman' and was shot by Spanish photographer Antonio Guillem - that labelled the man as 'You', the girlfriend as 'Your current workplace' and the other woman 'Bahnhof'.
This, according to the advertising body, is gender discriminatory.
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The ombudsman, RO, said: "The advertisement objectifies women.
"It presents women as interchangeable items and suggests only their appearance is interesting ... It also shows degrading stereotypical gender roles of both men and women and gives the impression men can change female partners as they change jobs."
If we're summing this up with another outdated internet trope:
To explain, they said that because the two women were presented as workplaces, they were being objectified. They also said that the other woman was a "sex object ... unrelated to the advertisement, which is for recruiting salespeople, operating engineers and a web designer."
That being said, the ombudsman does not have the power to impose anything on the company, as the industry is self-regulating.
Bahnhof responded to the criticism in a Facebook post, saying: "Anyone familiar with the Internet and meme culture knows how this meme is used and interpreted. Gender is usually irrelevant in the context. We explained meme culture to the ombudsman, but it chose to interpret the post differently".
They also added that if they were guilty of anything, it should be 'for using a tired old meme'.
It's certainly hard to argue with that last bit.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock