I was a teenager in the 80’s, one of America’s great decades of self-indulgence and conspicuous consumption. And being a red-blooded American teenage boy I was really into self-indulgence and conspicuous consumption in all its forms. But at my most animalistic I like to think that even I would have found this picture above absolutely fucking disgusting had I opened my Sports Illustrated magazine and seen this girl staring back at me. This is an advertisement for Carl’s Junior/Hardee’s fast food restaurants and it reflects just how dumb and animalistic corporate America believes that young American men and teenage boys are. It is a safe assumption that this ad is not designed to bring in the middle aged female consumer.
It is difficult to pick out which element of this ad is most disturbing so I flipped a coin and settled on the gross objectification of women. Let me be clear: I love the visual of the female form in its highest depictions- either natural or tastefully staged. But objectifying women’s bodies all the way down to the level of attaching our powerful male sexual desires to our powerful desires to consume food is DEEPLY problematic. Targeting our lowest and most base reflexes so flagrantly literally reduces us to flesh eating cannibals.
Look at the visual closely: This young woman- whom American men have been conditioned to find attractive from the time we could crawl- has cheeseburgers in place of breasts. I can’t figure out if this twisted scenario is a worse reflection on men or an embarrassing depiction for women. Call it a tie and accept that we are in a bad spot culturally where young men are being celebrated and catered to as dumb animals. Because if this ad gives you an erection OR makes you hungry you probably need to see a shrink quickly. At best, you are a man with serious issues. At worst, you are a dumb animal with cannibalistic reflexes. And if you are a woman and this ad moves you in any way that isn’t a gag reflex, then God help you.
I recognize that American men were dumb enough to select Donald Trump by a significant margin during the last election- an old man who has admitted publically to having so little impulse control that he is a habitual pussy-grabber. That is a dumb animal reflex if ever there was one and this guy has found his way to the top of the world. An interesting side note is that the guy responsible for this sick advertisement is Larry Puzder, the CEO of Carl’s Junior/Hardees who was actually selected by the Trumpster as his original choice for the cabinet post of Secretary of Labor. But regardless of who actually did put this twisted imagery into our collective conscious, at some point we have to make a decision about who we want to be as men and as a culture. Being in touch with your animal kinship is one thing, but degenerating to the point that you literally want to satisfy your hunger by consuming and ingesting the same creature that you want to satisfy your sexual urges with is the absolute bottom. The only good news is that we can’t go any lower. All that remains is the question of how long are we going to stay there. As bad as things have gotten, I cannot imagine that we will stay down here for too much longer- after all, we may act like dumb animals, but we are men. We’ll reclaim that identity sooner than later.