Tropes of Popular Culture: Candles, Women and Bathtime

Paleo Retiree writes:

I often marvel at the way certain situations, characters and setups establish themselves so thoroughly that they become part of our shared cultural landscape. Think of how often we’ve watched shiny new cars zooming across the Great Salt Desert or winding their way down California’s Highway One, for instance. How weird that these particular images have become as familiar to all of us as they have.

From a poster that caught my eye on the subway the other day, here’s another example:

ne_nyc_2013_12_ad_bath_with_candles01The woman-in-a-bubblebath-with-candles-by-her-side trope: Once you start noticing it, it’s everywhere — in ads, in TV shows, in chickflicks … Apparently this image has resonance of some kind. But why? Does it reflect anything in the way of reality? Or is it just an appealing fantasy? What’s the history of “the woman who relaxes in a bubbly bathtub with candles by her side” image anyway? Has it gained in popularity as more and more women have entered the workplace? (In other words: as women grow more overextended and more tired, do they dwell ever more on fantasies of relaxing?) Does the trope exist in other cultures? Guesses, speculations, insights and experiences will be enjoyed and appreciated.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Commercial art, Personal reflections and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Tropes of Popular Culture: Candles, Women and Bathtime

  1. Merry Christmas! The advantages of keeping your pussy warm, wet and softly lit should be obvious.


  2. You need to watch some more old Ernie Kovacs. It’s a clawfoot tub with a half round lip, so there’s no candles. Maybe the change in bathtub styles is what brought on the candles.


  3. Oh, nuts. The video link went to a playlist. Video #15 at the 3.33 mark.


  4. For my office Secret Santa exchange this year, everyone posted a list of three things they wanted on their nameplates. Half the women had “scented candles” on their lists and a few had “bath products.”


  5. The Hitter says:

    Best candlelit bath scene in the movies goes to Jeff Lebowski. Candles, whale songs and pot…of course, it didn’t end well.


  6. brookebove says:

    To me it seems more like a reflection of reality – at least of my reality. I have always loved taking baths – from the time I was in high school. For me, it has always been about escape – if you’re in the bathtub, your pesky little brother/roommates/husband can’t bother you – especially if you lock them out. I learned this behavior from my mom who is also a great fan of baths. Also, a lot of my girlfriends talk about their love of baths. I’ve tried all the things I’ve seen in movies and other pop culture – candles, bubbles, salts, pillows, drinking wine, etc., and I’ve settled on what works best for me. But still, I have always thought of this as art imitating life, not the other way around.


  7. Women and water, one of the major themes of ALL culture as far as I can tell.


  8. agnostic says:

    Conspicuous leisure?

    I don’t recall seeing this trope from looking through mid-century ads, when status striving and the inequality caused by it were falling.

    It seems more about “I deserve more than I’m getting, so I’m going to treat myself in the meantime.” Folks during the Great Compression were supposed to be content with a simple lifestyle, so they didn’t think they deserved such pampering.


  9. Robert Nagle says:

    Forget about water. What’s the deal with women and scented candles? I’d rather you just cram a pack of Marlboros down my gallet.


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