feminism, gah, gender, sexism, tv, useless observation

monday afternoon quarterbacking: the commercials

Someone recently left a comment here that consisted solely of an Oscar Wilde quote:

It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.

Apparently, it’s a problem I have, taking myself (and the world around me) too seriously. Well, whatever, because I’m about to do it again:

I generally don’t watch the SuperBowl. I find football to be boring and uninventive, and I’ve only gone to SuperBowl parties for the free beer (I may take myself too seriously, but I’m not ashamed to admit when I’m a mooch). This year, however, I was glued to the tv for the entire duration of the game, minus the 15 minutes it took me to drive home from my aunt’s house during the 3rd quarter. I participated in a football pool at work this year – another something I’ve never done before – and though I only spent $5, I was eligible to win up to $500. I got nothin’, of course. I have the worst luck.

I did, however, manage to see quite a few of the much-hyped commercials. Some of them were pretty funny (the FedEx carrier pigeons, the Night at the Roxbury Pepsi ad, the cars.com Glondor-stone-circle-of-death), although one of them in particular really irritated me: the Planters commercial, featuring a woman who is obviously meant to be perceived as unattractive and undesirable (she has a unibrow, an overbite, poorly applied and outdated makeup, a sloppy-ish hairdo, outdated clothes, etc.). The commercial shows man after man lusting after her, giving her sidelong desiring glances, tripping over themselves, running into (and breaking) glass doors, chasing down a bus – all in a quest to be near her. The culmination of the commercial depicts this woman in the privacy of her home with a can of cashews. She opens the can, selects a single cashew, and rubs it on her neck, her wrists, behind her ears and then – after a careful glance around – she dabs the nut just at the opening of her shirt, where her cleavage is visible. (You can see the video for yourself over at YouTube).

So apparently Planters wants us to know that women are good for only one thing: sex appeal. And, lacking that, the only way to get a man to notice us is to rub nuts all over ourselves.

Oh, the amazing wit it took to come up with that message. Rub nuts all over ourselves. Jesus.

Because it’s not plausible at all that a woman who doesn’t fit the standard definition of beautiful could find a partner worthy of mentioning, right? It’s not plausible at all that this woman is perhaps desired for her intelligence or talent, her compassion or quick wit, her sense of humor or intuitive nature.

Of course it’s not plausible – and you certainly won’t find the media or celebrity couples depicting many examples of the Ugly Chick + Hot Guy = Good Couple dynamic. No, there we find just the opposite: Ugly Dude + Hot Chick = Good Couple (with the added bonus of Dude’s a Stud!).

While I can only think of a two examples of the former dynamic, both of which are somewhat debatable (Harrison Ford / Melissa Mathison, Star Jones / Al Reynolds), I can think of scores of the latter dynamic: Donald Trump / any of his wives, Salman Rushdie / Padma Lakshmi, Keith Richards / Patti Hansen, Billy Bob Thornton / Angelina Jolie, Rod Stewart / several relationships, Fred Thompson / Jeri Thompson. So of course, with so many real-life examples of how the Ugly Dude gets the girl, there’s no need to advertise men wiping chocolate behind their ears or rubbing strawberries around their groins.

Although, really, fruit doesn’t have quite the innuendo that cashews do.

14 thoughts on “monday afternoon quarterbacking: the commercials”

  1. hmm didn’t see that one, but it sounds a tad (ok more than a tad) ridiculous. One would think with all the money that the companies are paying for these adds they would come up with something more imaginative than that. Does make sense that in such a man dominated demographic (I know there are women football fans, just saying a majority are men) they would use such obvious tactics to market to men. I had a party at my house, one room devoted to football the other devoted to Rock Band. Can you guess which room I was in?

  2. hmm didn’t see that one, but it sounds a tad (ok more than a tad) ridiculous. One would think with all the money that the companies are paying for these adds they would come up with something more imaginative than that. Does make sense that in such a man dominated demographic (I know there are women football fans, just saying a majority are men) they would use such obvious tactics to market to men. I had a party at my house, one room devoted to football the other devoted to Rock Band. Can you guess which room I was in?

  3. The commercial irritates me too, Rachel, but perhaps for different reasons. Don’t get me wrong; I agree with what you’re saying, but from a male perspective, the Planters people are not suggesting that we men are mindless beings driven by our gonads to find a ‘pretty’ one and overlook the ‘plain’ one (because that’s ALL that matters to us guys, right?) but now we’re also nothing less than what, a primate maybe, driven crazy by the smell of nuts?

    Puhleez.

  4. The commercial irritates me too, Rachel, but perhaps for different reasons. Don’t get me wrong; I agree with what you’re saying, but from a male perspective, the Planters people are not suggesting that we men are mindless beings driven by our gonads to find a ‘pretty’ one and overlook the ‘plain’ one (because that’s ALL that matters to us guys, right?) but now we’re also nothing less than what, a primate maybe, driven crazy by the smell of nuts?

    Puhleez.

  5. we are all stereotyped in adverts

    http://www.saintmarys.edu/~medi0639/
    malestereotypes.html

    as for the scent connection any AXE ad will do

    as far as mismatched couples go, i don’t quite know where your going. if your saying that women of unconventional beauty are lacking in the media, well yes. are you complaining that a female record executives are not gunning for the new hot singer they just signed? (that would make them just as shallow as male executives) are you saying that guys of substantial wealth are gunning for women half their age? (counterpoint – Bill Gates wife Melinda is kind of blah if i say so myself)

    should guys feel equally outraged that the media is saying that all an ugly guy needs to attract women is not nuts but wealth and maybe a touch of AXE.

    I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies. – Oscar Wilde

  6. we are all stereotyped in adverts

    http://www.saintmarys.edu/~medi0639/
    malestereotypes.html

    as for the scent connection any AXE ad will do

    as far as mismatched couples go, i don’t quite know where your going. if your saying that women of unconventional beauty are lacking in the media, well yes. are you complaining that a female record executives are not gunning for the new hot singer they just signed? (that would make them just as shallow as male executives) are you saying that guys of substantial wealth are gunning for women half their age? (counterpoint – Bill Gates wife Melinda is kind of blah if i say so myself)

    should guys feel equally outraged that the media is saying that all an ugly guy needs to attract women is not nuts but wealth and maybe a touch of AXE.

    I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies. – Oscar Wilde

  7. Scotty,
    Absolutely I see your point, and I agree with you – the commercial is insulting to men as well. Of course you’ll understand that my interest is in how it portrays women simply because I am one.

    Anonymous,
    Should men be outraged? I would think so. But too often men aren’t, because they don’t see anything wrong with the images and stereotypes that are furthered by the media.

    As for mismatched couples, my point is this: mainstream media celebrates a particular definition of “beautiful” for women, and suggests that it is the absolute standard for social acceptance. That leaves the rest of us often feeling awkward, worthless, devalued – whatever adjective you want to apply here. The same does not always apply to men, as the standards for appearance for men are certainly very different.

    Again, my concern is mostly with the images of women at this point. I think it’s safe to say that most people (including myself) choose their priorities by what affects them personally.

  8. Scotty,
    Absolutely I see your point, and I agree with you – the commercial is insulting to men as well. Of course you’ll understand that my interest is in how it portrays women simply because I am one.

    Anonymous,
    Should men be outraged? I would think so. But too often men aren’t, because they don’t see anything wrong with the images and stereotypes that are furthered by the media.

    As for mismatched couples, my point is this: mainstream media celebrates a particular definition of “beautiful” for women, and suggests that it is the absolute standard for social acceptance. That leaves the rest of us often feeling awkward, worthless, devalued – whatever adjective you want to apply here. The same does not always apply to men, as the standards for appearance for men are certainly very different.

    Again, my concern is mostly with the images of women at this point. I think it’s safe to say that most people (including myself) choose their priorities by what affects them personally.

  9. Looks like the sexism works both ways. Hopefully we raise our children with the ability to think for themselves and see the absurd nature of mainstream media.

  10. Looks like the sexism works both ways. Hopefully we raise our children with the ability to think for themselves and see the absurd nature of mainstream media.

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