Stiller’s Female Viagra Ad: Sloppy Satire or Misogynistic?

stiller

They’ll call anything ‘comedy’ these days…

Ben Stiller’s spoof commercial that was recently shown on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon got big laughs from the audience members of the show. I’m discounting the laughter as my measure for any kind of comedic value of the commercial, since these were Jimmy Fallon fans. I actually can’t tell if the spoof was meant to poke fun at the old joke that men are inadequate lovers, and fail at deciphering female anatomy, or if it was meant to tear down the credibility of female sexual dysfunction issues and female sexuality in general.

I feel like the ‘comedy’ within the spoof is from another time, like, from the 80s or 90s. Whatever the intention of the commercial is, it isn’t funny. There is nothing new or clever that is said within the script, and I feel like it undermines the seriousness of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which  is what the drug, ‘female Viagra’ (which is actually called flibanserin, or Addyi) is aiming to treat. The commercial brings up the same tired examples of old-fashioned ideas of female sexuality, in that women have sex out of duty and obligation. Now, this could be satirical, calling attention to the fact that women do and can enjoy sex, but if that’s the point, then it is done rather sloppily. My instinct is that Stiller is not a friend of the third and fourth-wave feminist, and that this commercial was produced simply to poke fun at the idea of women’s sexuality and the existence of a female equivalent to Viagra in general, which are perhaps ridiculous ideas to some.

Female hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a medical disorder, and I don’t think that anyone would stand for a commercial that was making light of male erectile dysfunction by waving around a limp noodle for the entirety of the advertisement. Viagra, in all forms was simply created to help combat the sexual problems that both sexes can experience. For males, the problems are more often physical, but for females, stress and psychological issues can play a major part in decreased libido. The flibanserin pill is meant to balance different hormones within a female’s body to increase sexual desire, and early tests show that the pill can help to combat vaginal dryness and likewise,  increase blood flow and sensation in the genitals. So… I’m missing the joke here.

Even the script of the commercial is sloppily researched. One line reads, “even though 0% of women suffer from erectile dysfunction…” Right. So, women have erectile tissue within their genitals, and the myriads of reasons as to why there is low blood flow to the genitals could be described as some kind of erectile dysfunction. The rest of the line is, “… over 98% of women over 30 suffer from another condition, called ‘not being turned on by their husband anymore.'” The line is so reductive and noninclusive that it makes me think that there is meant to be some satire within the commercial… if only I could figure out the point of it all. Perhaps the joke is that Stiller’s character is the clueless ‘everyman,’ or perhaps they are attempting to support women’s rights. I’m kind of thinking that comedy only works if the audience can figure out the joke… so… good try? Or, maybe I’m over thinking this entire thing, and the commercial was produced with a much more universal, albeit, slightly more sinister agenda for a Hollywood actor; the commercial was most likely produced aiming for the lowest common denominator of a viewer, hoping to garnish some laughs and promotion for Stiller’s upcoming movie.

 

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