Thursday, November 04, 2010

5 hours? Try 30 seconds. That's all you'll need to view proof that the "women's movement" was an illusion.

Opening shot: a harried, attractive woman arrives home. She walks in, and closes the front door behind her with her foot. Two young boys who look about ten years old go running by, without acknowledging her, waving toys and making noise. She drops her shoulder bag on to a bench and continues into the home, carrying two packed grocery bags into her kitchen. She’s talking to us about her “2:30 feeling,” as she arrives home after her ‘first job’ to begin her ‘second job,’ presumably with her family.

She enters her spacious, spotless, granite-filled kitchen. At the table sit two other children, more sedate than the high-spirited youngsters who ran through the foyer earlier, children who appear to be either happily working on homework or otherwise quietly occupied. Note: neither of them greets the woman either.

At this point, I’m confused. I can only guess she’s either the hired help everyone feels perfectly comfortable ignoring for some reason or their over-worked, exhausted mother who demands not one thing from them, not even a greeting when she enters the room.

A cautious, responsible woman, she despairs about her stressful, tiring day and then informs us of her recent decision to load up on legal stimulants. She admits that she was “nervous” at first, but her husband reassured her of the efficacy and safety of this miracle drink. She takes two packages out of her grocery bag – his and her, I guess – and as she tells the story of his endorsement, she mimics his yapping mouth and rolls her eyes, as if he couldn’t possibly tell her anything of value about any subject at any time that could be trusted. Her husband – the moron! – this stuff works for him. Somehow, despite his seemingly poor track record for sharing relevant, factual information, she decided to give him a chance and give his suggestion a whirl. It has only a few calories – thank God! She can keep her girlish figure. Zero sugar – again, so she can fit into her skinny jeans easily.

[I’m interrupting this narrative to admit that this is nothing new. Men shown in commercials have been the recipients of derisive comments, mockery and other uncharitable depictions for years. This one is sort of like that but it’s more than that, too. It’s an equal opportunity insult-fest. Read on.]

She walks over to him to deliver his own little set of bottles, presumably to help him overcome his debilitating “2:30 feeling” and…wait a minute! I know what you’re thinking but you’re wrong. Unlike his wife, he’s not frantic with activity and just trying to make it through his own slump. He’s not vacuuming or changing the oil or raking the yard or cleaning the gutters or doing another load of laundry or starting dinner. He’s on the sofa. Sitting on the sofa quietly, as two boys run amok, as two other kids do homework and as his wife – between her two jobs apparently - carries two full bags of groceries in to the house. There he is – just sitting. And even better: reading a magazine.

She plops down next to him and then admits he was right about one thing: exactly what she needs to drink to get more energy every day. He delivers one line in this marketing masterpiece: “Told you so.”

Is it me? (Don’t answer that.) This makes me insane. I hate that it’s nearly 2011 and we’re subjected to a little commercial tableau featuring a wife/homemaker/working woman, reminiscent of Ms. Helen Reddy circa 1972. I hate that this husband sits around like a king in his castle.

And all this time, I thought AMC’s Madmen was supposed to be a period piece, pointing out the quirks and wrong-headed thinking of a different age. If this commercial is an example of the sales pitches created by ad agencies these days, it turns out not one thing has changed on Madison Avenue in fifty years, except possibly the smoking policies.


Cindy Ratzlaff said...

That magazine reading is exhausting. This energy drink message is just a spin off on the Valium message our mother's got. Unhappy with the way things are? Take Valium. In both cases, there was just one constant...the relaxed man sitting on the couch reading a magazine while the kids just assumed Mom would handle everything. And, of course, she did.

renee said...

Thanks Cindy. I think you make an excellent point. Although I'm not sure how much mom 'handled' while zonked on the Barcolounger!

Although maybe since she didn't quite notice the mayhem around her, she did just fine.

Here's what I can't work out though: our sisters of yesteryear seemed to take the "go mellow" route when they couldn't cope. Today, we seem to want to speed up to try to take control.

Neither option is a good choice - at least not on a regular basis.

As for the husband who seems above it all somehow - god knows.

sidcup said...

Sounds like someone's been skipping her meds.

renee said...

Thanks for the perspective, Sidcup. Always welcome.

Suffice it to say, I have WAY too much respect for meds and how they can help to joke about them here...except to say: if people who agree - even tangentially - with the kinds of posts I write here are ALL in need of medication, we're doomed.

Richard said...

So June Cleaver finally gets a job, and women still are angry. Harrumph!

Seriously, I had the same reaction - not at first, but when I saw the man relaxing with his magazine. (Wonder if it was GQ?) I thought the reference to sugar was more about the evils of sugar making you jittery than the weight issue.

Frankly, I'm fed-up with the whole 5 hour energy thing. My father worked mostly double shifts on the line at Mack Trucks 6 days a week. He had 42 years in when he retired. I don't think they had Energy Drinks back then either.

renee said...

Thanks Richard. As always, you bring a welcome moment of clarity to the conversation.

I'll second your comment with this: exactly. Love the story about your dad.