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Not THIS Girl's Best Friend

by Anita Sarkeesian

Aliens, robots and artificial intelligence fill the fantastical world of speculative fiction.  Often these stories are used to highlight social norms that are taken for granted. In this instance, Cameron (a cyborg from the Terminator franchise sent to protect John Connor) is asking "Why are diamonds a girl's best friend," after John used the phrase to explain the value of the shiny white stones they had found.  

The misconception of diamonds being rare was established by De Beers (a diamond miner, trader and retailer) who manufactured an intensely manipulative marketing campaign to create the illusion of diamond scarcity.  They employed advertisements, product placement and public appearances of celebrities wearing diamonds to construct the illusion of glamour and luxury.  The song "Diamond's are a girl's best friend" was included in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and it is rumoured that DeBeers' paid Marilyn Monroe to perform it, creating instant popularity.  The entire campaign was intended to construct a "psychological necessity" for diamonds and even now, decades later the slogan is still commonly used.

Through her extensive research, Jean Kilbourne has identified that advertising manipulates phrases and images to substitute products for real human relationships.  Products do not argue, cheat or require any real effort unlike the work of maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships.  A telling example is from the website www.adiamondisforever.com when visitors are prompted by a woman's voice that says "The Everlon Diamond Knot Collection is a tribute to the unfailing strength of love.  Because true love is ever sure, ever lasting and ever strong."  They are drawing on the prince charming myth which routinely presents true love as immediate, magical and effortless.  Diamond marketing campaigns employ this fairy tale fantasy by replacing prince charming with an easily purchasable product: diamonds.  

When Cameron sincerely asks Sarah if she wants a diamond because they are a girl's best friend, Sarah replies "...not this girl."  Sarah is breaking the popular convention and actively rejecting the association that diamonds are a source of happiness and pleasure for all women.  Sarah's response coupled with Cameron's repetition and child like ignorance of the phrase invites the viewer to revisit its meaning. This clip from The Sarah Connor Chronicles is noteworthy because it renders visible a deeply engrained and normalized marketing campaign.  

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Not THIS Girl's Best Friend

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its subtle subversion of the highly manufactured belief that "Diamond's are a girl's best friend."

from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)
Creator: Josh Friedman
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Television
Posted by Anita Sarkeesian
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