Sony has taken down one of its video advertisements from YouTube after an outraged Internet decried the ad for being sexist and disgusting.
In the midst of the heated debate about the role of women in the gaming industry and amidst various reports of female video game developers becoming the targets of cyberbullying and threats of rape and violence, Sony is ratcheting up bad press with its new ad featuring an overtly sexualized female doctor trying to market Sony's PlayStation Vita, which allows gamers to play on a second screen connected to the console when the TV is not available.
The hot lady doctor doesn't directly talk about PS Vita, at least not for most of the video. Instead, she spouts out an innuendo-ridden monologue that appears to imply that the viewer has been masturbating too much.
"I know you've already done it today, and I bet you really enjoyed yourself," the doctor entices in her husky, sultry voice as she pouts at the camera. "How many times did you do it yesterday? Are you afraid you're doing it too often? In the bedroom under your blankets? Or perhaps you prefer the kitchen or in the toilet?"
"You no longer have to feel ashamed. Everybody's doing it because it's fantastic. And now you can keep going all day long," she adds. "Don't you like that? You don't even need to stop. And if you want to, you could even join me."
The Verge's Kwame Opam calls the ad "a little sleazy," but Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel is blunt enough to call it "dumb as dirt." The sexist accusations stem from the fact that Sony and a huge chunk of the gaming industry has treated women as sexual objects. This isn't the first time Sony or any gaming company put out an off-putting ad where women serve nothing more but pander to the sexual fantasies of male gamers.
In 2012, the same ad agency responsible for Sony's latest gaffe was responsible for another print ad that elicited the same negative reactions. The ad shows the faceless body of a woman pictured with two pairs of breasts, one on the front and another on her back, to refer to the traditional control buttons on the front of the console and an additional "touch pad" on the back. "Touch both sides for added enjoyment," the ad says.
In Opam's criticism of the video ad, she says Sony shoots straight at the female demographic, which make up 48 percent of the entire gaming community, which has been struggling for inclusivity in an industry that has catered largely only to male gamers. Opam says while the video ad isn't as bad as the print ad in 2012, Sony should have thought twice about using sex to sell something in an industry that is mired in controversy over the gender divide.
"And 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," Opam says. "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."
Others, such as Forbes' Erik Kain, however, cannot figure out what the fuss is all about. Kain says, while there are real institutional barriers for women in technology and other industries, the "moral outrage" that has sparked over the Sony ad does not really pose a real problem to begin with, as there are other ways, such as "humor, conversation," for society to discuss these problems in a civilized manner.
Kain defends the ad saying males are not the only ones who like sex and sex is used to sell other products as well, not just video games and consoles.
"Maybe this ad was targeted at a certain demographic - most ads are - but that doesn't mean gamers are any more sexist than people who buy cars or Levi's or shampoo or beer," Kain says. "Sex is used to sell each of these things, and why shouldn't it be?"