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13 November 2005 @ 16:38
Score with the symphony!  

On page 56 of the November 10 issue of NOW Magazine can be found the most inauspicious advertisement for a musical group I have ever seen. Orchestras Mississauga (which comprises the Mississauga Symphony, the Mississauga Philharmonic, and Sinfonia Mississauga) appears to be taking the "chicks dig that classical shit" approach to marketing, and the result looks remarkably—and embarrassingly—like the ads one sometimes sees in the subway for clinics that treat erectile dysfunction.1

At the top of the ad is the following text:

     She said I'm
INTRIGUING!

Below that, on the left, is a picture of a young man raising his fists to the heavens in exultation, as if to suggest that his highest aspiration in life—viz., receiving a (one can only assume) deliberately ambiguous compliment from an unspecified female person—has been attained.

To the right of the man is the following imperative, which I initially found somewhat cryptic:

    Improve your
        curb appeal...
    include the
SYMPHONY
     in your weekend plans!

I wasn't sure what "curb appeal" meant, at first, but it appears to be a term borrowed from the real estate business. Other tips for improving one's curb appeal run along the lines of "make the master bathroom smell nice" and "put a loaf of bread in the oven." Apparently, what the ad is trying to tell me is that I should use the Mississauga Symphony (et al.) for purely cosmetic purposes; that if I dab a little orchestra behind my ears, it will increase the chances that some woman will decide to buy me.

Well, maybe not me personally. I don't imagine that they honestly expect their cheesy come-on to entice a snob from the Annex2 to make the trek out to their fair city of Mississauga-on-Credit. But the conspicuous absence of any reference to the kind or quality of music they play is seriously disturbing. (Besides "curb appeal," the only selling points touched on in the ad are the ticket prices and "free underground parking.")

The sexist presupposition behind the ad is also quite alarmingly blatant. I'll bet you a cup of coffee they aren't running parallel ads with a woman pumping her fists in the air and yelling "He said I'm INTRIGUING!" No, Orchestras Mississauga seems to be quite convinced that the natural interests of men do not run to classical music,3 and that the only way to lure them in is by promising that a little culture will make their bathrooms smell nice, metaphorically speaking.


1. The one salient difference is that the guy in the symphony ad is less than half the age of the guy in the erectile dysfunction ad.
2. I live about a block away from where Tafelmusik usually performs.
3. Pop quiz: What percentage of symphony conductors are male?

 
 
 
Tishie: LOLwahooweena on 13. November, 2005 13:54 (UTC)
Ha! "She said I'm intriguing!" You pegged that one. My first reaction was, "Is he sure that's a compliment?"
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 14. November, 2005 09:20 (UTC)

Well, he seems pretty sure, anyway. See below: he's so happy his right arm is coming out of the frame. Intriguing! Compliment or no, it seems to be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to the poor guy.

Vizcacha: Turtle - realchillyrodent on 13. November, 2005 16:30 (UTC)
Euphemism for "You're a loser who happens to have symphony tickets. Never call me again."
Vizcacha: ? Question markchillyrodent on 13. November, 2005 16:31 (UTC)
85%?
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 14. November, 2005 09:17 (UTC)

I don't know what the answer is, actually. But my impression is that men are far from underrepresented.

Vizcachachillyrodent on 14. November, 2005 09:25 (UTC)
That would have been my gut response. It has been a traditionally-male field, at least as seen through my stereotypical glasses.
w1ldc47w1ldc47 on 13. November, 2005 19:23 (UTC)
What percentage of symphony conductors are male?

What bearing does that have on the percentage of men in general who are interested in symphony music, except to say that it's >0? Surely you're not trying to imply that the ration of male conductors:female conductors = the ratio of men interested in symphony:women interested in symphony.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 14. November, 2005 05:56 (UTC)
What bearing does that have on the percentage of men in general who are interested in symphony music, except to say that it's >0? Surely you're not trying to imply that the ratio of male conductors:female conductors = the ratio of men interested in symphony:women interested in symphony.

Well, no, of course not; the greater-than-zero implication was all I was going for. I'm just saying that symphonies in general do not seem to have encountered any shortage of men who are interested enough in symphonic music to perform or conduct it. (Of course, I suppose it's possible that all those guys are just in it to increase their curb appeal—they look good in tails but couldn't hack it as maîtres d'hôtel.)

(Deleted comment)
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 14. November, 2005 09:16 (UTC)

I think she must have just been trying to say something that sounded vaguely complimentary without actually lying.

Here's the ad itself, ticket prices and all ("Yes, you can afford it!" Whether you want to is another matter entirely):

Seriously, this is the wrong way to sell a symphony.
Vizcachachillyrodent on 14. November, 2005 09:27 (UTC)
You know, I think I've actually been to Mississauga, but it's not my first thought when a symphony is mentioned.