I am so glad I stopped eating BK

No, Burger King (BK) does not have the monopoly on awful advertising. Not by a long shot. But this new commercial combines sexism, racism, and probably a whole lot of other -isms that my mind wants to blank out into one nasty little package. I just… yeah. Didn’t Carl’s Jr. try this one before? And Jack in the Box? And, like, didn’t it fail? Miserably?

Shame on me for trying to apply Earth Logic to Marketing! I should know better, really. But, in all seriousness, this commercial is just plain bad. I don’t mean to pick on Burger King (well, I sort of do), but it’s making the rounds on ther internet (elsewise I never would have seen it, me being in Japan and all), and I can’t help but put my two cents in. Two cents that should be studying my kanji, but, hey, I got all but the hardest combinations right when my study partner quizzed me. I deserve a break.

So, without further ado, let’s begin with the analysis.

I. Pandering to the Caveman Mentality

Punching is Manly!Rarely have I seen such contempt shown for men as when they are portrayed as what I can only describe as “cavemen.” Uncivilized at heart, barely above animals (and, to be sure, in the minds of the person making the connections, animals are base creatures without intelligence), who have no real control over their actions. They’re men, after all!

The tagline, “I am Man, hear me roar!” (a dig at the feminist saying, as one feminist LJ commenter speculated?) sets the stage for the “caveman mentality”. Roaring, as we all know, is associated with lions (which also asserts men as “king of the jungle” — which, naturally, is to show that they are still supreme despite being closer to the animal kingdom than women). To further the lion analogy, the lines “‘Cause my stomach’s startin’ to growl, and I’m goin’ on the prowl,” show up.

Amidst all this prowling is two “manly men” punching each other in the stomach — male bonding, how quaint! And some guy ripping off his tighty whities and burning them. Given the “I am Man, hear me roar!” thing, I have to wonder if this is not another jab at feminism. The whole commercial is, after all, a backlash against the strains of feminist thought that say it’s okay (and — dare I say it? — good) not to succumb to the caveman mentality if you don’t want to.

And, really, we can’t forget the necessary “property destruction” part where they throw a guy’s van into a dump truck. For added bonus, the truck is being pulled by a man trying to get his “prize” — a whopper, of course! How manly! How virile! How… stereotyped. But, alas, you men just aren’t manly enough if you don’t buy into the caveman mentality.

II. Meat or Death!

Tofu... blechLater on I will discuss more in depth the role of “chick food” in the commercial, but here I would like to point out here that the entire premise of the commercial is based on conflating burgers with “MAN FOOD”. And, true to the Caveman Mentality, MAN FOOD (yes, it must always be in all caps) is meat. Red. Juicy. Meat. Mmm, manly. Of course, if one actually thinks about it, the BK whopper is a far cry from a steak which, in itself, is a far cry from what animals, or even our esteemed ancestors, ate. But, well, I’ve already established that logic has no place in commercials; it’s all about creating an emotional connection between your viewer and the product you want to sell.

So, back to the whole MAN FOOD thing. In order to set this up, the BK marketing team has chosen to go with an effective tactic: the dichotomy. People love simplicity, and what’s more simple than an “Us vs. Them” mentality? In this case, several dichotomies are set up. I’ll talk about the “chick food”/”dick food” dichotomy in the section on women in the commercial, but here I’d like to talk about the unseen dichotomy: carnivores versus vegetarians.

I am no expert on any form of vegetarianism (but perhaps Ariel will weigh in with her opinions on the matter?). I love meat. I love it so much that I’ve jokingly said on several occassions that I was a carnivore. However, this isn’t just pushing meat as a healthy part of a non-veg*n (catch all phrase for the multiple kinds of vegetarianism) lifestyle. It’s pushing it to the exclusion of foods associated with health, namely salads and tofu (they mention quiche, too, but I don’t know how healthy/not healthy it is supposed to be).

Seeing as men already have a tenuous relationship with their own health, I see this as a problem. A big problem. While I may find networks “for men” like Spike questionable in many areas (as I find their female counterparts, like Lifetime), one thing I noticed while getting my Star Trek fix is that the station will often emphasise the fact that men should take care of their health. They challenge the stereotype that it’s “unmanly” to take care of one’s health, often by advocating the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. I have always thought that this was a good thing — men deserve to not be shamed into leading harmful lifestyles.

What BK does with this commercial, however, is chip away at the progress that stations such as Spike have made. They quite obviously draw the line between “healthy” food (tofu, especially, is the poster child for “healthy food”) and MAN FOOD, namely BK’s burgers. And, you know what, I don’t think that’s cool. As someone who loves burgers, I don’t like one of my favourite foods being used to shame men into thinking that if they aren’t “carnivores” then they are less manly. I, frankly, see it as BK emasculating men who don’t want to buy their product. And, really, if anyone is going to be emasculating men around here it should be us feminists. I’m kidding! Jeez, y’all can’t take a joke. What are you, a bunch of humourless feminists? Ha, ha. But I’m serious about the BK thing. And that’s not cool.

III. The Sexualization of Meat

Eat This Meat!Meat already is tied to sexuality in our culture. Phrases like, “beating the/your/my meat,” are euphemisms for male masturbation. “Man meat” referrs to a phallus. Do I even need to go into all the sausage and hot dog references? Bottom line: meat is, in most Westerner’s minds, linked to sexuality, especially male sexuality.

Earlier I referenced a line in the jingle about “going on the prowl.” In the animal kingdom, this means hunting for food. For humans, however, it often means hunting for sex — most often used to describe men seeking out women. Already, here, burgers are linked with sex and conquest. Which puts burgers on the same level of women. Or, I suppose I should say, women on the same level as burgers. It’s not an overt objectification (that comes a bit later), but it is, I would argue, an objectification of women.

At another point, the lyrics go, “I will eat this meat,” and a large banner unfurls that says, “Eat this meat,” which has another one next to it saying, “I am man.” Now, dirty minded that I am, the first thing i thought of was some homoerotic action. Which, given the context of the commercial, I doubt BK would imply. Only heterosexual men deserve to eat whoppers, after all (must… resist… writing… on caveman mentality and heterosexism……). But, the first three times through, every time I saw that sign, it looked sexual to me. Now that I have to stop and analyse it, I’m sort of at a loss. Do any of y’all have thoughts on the matter?

IV. Happy Asian American Heritage Month!

All Asians know kung fu!Oh, yes, they went there. I find it subtly ironic that this little section appears in the commercial during Asian American Heritage Month (which, if I’m a good person, I’ll blog about before the end of the month). For those of you who missed it, I highly recommend watching A Chink in the Armour, which addresses (among other things) the false notion that “every Asian knows kung fu.”

But, I mean, come on, the only visible Asian American in the entire crowd and BK has to do that? And I noticed that he’s the only prominent suit wearer. There were only two others I could find — one (white looking) guy in the lineup who bare their manly arm muscles while bringing the burger to their mouthes (maybe I should have mentioned that in the caveman section?), and the other was a black man in what looks to me like a white leisure suit. Forgive me if the terminology is wrong.

I guess, if one was a fan of using stereotypes to fight stereotypes, you could see it as the AAM (Asian American Man) asserting his virility. He can be part of the caveman mob mentality, too! But maybe just him, as there didn’t seem to be any other Asians around. Of course, if one was more cynical like me, you could see it as reinforcing the asexual kung fu master stereotype without gainfully challenging any other stereotype associated with Asians. And since I am cynical like myself, I’m going with the latter interpretation.

V. What about the women?

Claim your PrizeThe commercial is, unsurprisingly, devoid of women. It’s about men, after all. However, it does make the few women present stand out. The first of whom is the assumed girlfriend of our protagonist. The implication is that she forced her carnivore boyfriend into eating at a fancy restaurant — excuse me, a women’s restaurant, which serves chick food. Although why they would serve chickens the kind of food displayed in the commercial is beyond me. I joke, I joke.

Seriously, though, Luke of Real Men Are Not (RMAN) comments on the potential harms of using the “chick food”/”dick food” dichotomy:

I really get tired of the old “men are carnivores” thing because on the flip-side it tells women to eat….guess what, SALADS. We know now, of course, that for reasons of anemia and what not, women and young girls should actually be eating more red meat but no, that’s not what the King with that chesire cat grin on his face would have you believe.

On the livejournal forums, other discussions on the implications of the “chick food” (salads, quiche, tofu… “rabbit food” as one commenter describes it) can be found here, here, and here (snark at the fact that BK used to offer vegetarian hamburgers).

The other woman, like the first, is only seen for a split second. She is the keeper of the prize — the hamburger. Much like the women at racing shows, E3’s booth babes, and other “acceptable” female jobs in male-dominated fields, I believe that this woman’s main appeal is to show off the hamburger. I must say, however, I am a bit stumped as to why they chose the woman (who does not fit the standards of beauty that I have seen levied on others of her profession type), or the outfit (which, to me, makes her seem more asexual than sexual). Is it to not detract from the focus — that of the burger? Is it that she is the kind of real woman seen in the kinds of events that the man is mimicing? Am I missing something important?

While not unexpected at all, the use of the two women in this commercial bothers me. I would much rather not have any women at all — and, seeing as the commercial specifically targets men, I don’t see why they strictly need to be there — rather than used to first set men apart (and above) and then being nothing more than decoration for the product that BK is selling. But, I suppose it is a relatively minor point when compared to the gross abuses of masculinities that BK has used throughout the commercial (thank you gender caste and gender cultism!).

VI. Conclusion

“I am a man”? All I have to say, BK, is if this is what you think men are, then you and your crack marketing team hate men a lot more than I ever could. I mean, at least I’m not out to kill them, which is more than I can say for this ad campaign.

Seriously, for all the men who read this blog, are you not insulted by this? Like, honestly? And if not, then why the hell not? Y’all are better than all this bullshit, and I know that for a fact.

Via RMAN.

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This entry was posted in Advertising, Gender Cultism, Masculinities, The Evil -ism's. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to I am so glad I stopped eating BK

  1. Sage says:

    I’ve never thought about it before, but I think you’re right: Meat is man food. My guy’s a vegetarian (I’m a wanna-be with poor impulse control), and talks about getting away from fake meat that looks like meat. We’ve been so conditioned to eat food a certain way, we’re not able to eat vegetables that look like vegetables. We want them ground into a burger shape. We’ve been brainwashed by the corporations. (I’m assuming you’ve read Fast Food Nation. That’s what got us going in this direction.)

  2. Lake Desire says:

    Good post that shows how these stereotypes are insulting and harmful to all genders. This commercial is really reminding men how unmanly it is for them to take care of themselves, and how women should do it for them.

  3. Ragnell says:

    See, I took the woman holding the burger as another insult towards “emasculating women.” She’s holding the burger in front of the chained and ensalved man, holding it cruelly out of his reach while he toils for her.

    Of course, I may be wrong as by then I’d turned my head in digust (and because the fact that the tune is catchy while the lyrics means I’ll be thinking of those lyrics all freaking day!) looking for the remote.

    GayProf has a great commentary on this commercial too.

  4. tekanji says:

    Sage: I’m a bad person; I haven’t yet read Fast Food Nation. I know a lot about it, though, because my mom and sister have. My choice to get away from most fast food chains (I try to avoid all sorts, but sometimes it’s impossible) actually came from a general knowledge of how bad the places were for you, egged on by the memory of having been forced to eat it every day by my abusive ex, and because it just didn’t make me feel good. Of course, hearing about FFN from my family just made me feel that my solution was the correct one.

    Ariel: Yeah, it’s really a lose-lose situation for everyone in that situation. It creates the idea that a woman is responsible for “forcing” a man to act “civilized”, but the man will always resent it and rebel (much like a small child — yet another unflattering comparison often applied to men). And, on the men’s side, it helps them to resent the women in their lives for this dynamic, while being pressured into buying into a lifestyle that isn’t healthy for them — because not being seen as masculine is one of the worst things that can happen to a man in our society.

    Ragnell: I hadn’t thought of it that way, but now that you point it out, I think you’re right. Especially if one goes with the “burger as sex” analogy, it reinforces the erroneous stereotype that, in matters of sex, women hold all the cards because it’s our job to “withold” sex from all but the strongest man that can take it from us.

  5. I felt the same way Ragnell did about the woman holding the burger away from the man. What, when he’s finished pulling the truck, is he going to take the burger by force. Sick.

    And I thought the woman did fit the stereotype-she is thin, has longer hair, and her clothes are skin-tight. Sorry, but I’m not willing to watch it again to check. :)

  6. Dora says:

    Nice breakdown of what makes this commercial so horrific. I actually haven’t seen it myself – I heard about it before I had a chance to, and now I’ve decided I really don’t need to spend my time watching it. I’m already familiar with the “save the poor downtrodden men” mentality, thank you very much – and it’s sad, really, how common it is. Right after I read this, in fact, I saw Ragnell’s post on Erik Larson (nicely done as well, btw), and … ugh. If “not enough boobs for me” is his idea of a violation of his rights, I’d be happy to switch places with him and see how he likes it. Try BEING the object that men don’t have “enough” of.

  7. Pingback: real men are not » Blog Archive » Burger King: “I am hungry, I am incorrigible, I am man”

  8. tekanji says:

    spotted elephant said:

    And I thought the woman did fit the stereotype-she is thin, has longer hair, and her clothes are skin-tight. Sorry, but I’m not willing to watch it again to check.

    Hmm, you may be right. She’s the woman in the screenshot I took for that section. I guess I’m struck because I can’t see her breasts at all, and I would assume she’d be a chesty woman with a painful-looking push-up bra and a neckline to show it off. She kind of looks “boyish” to me, aside from the long hair and the obviously pink jump suit.

    Dora: Ugh. I keep trying to type a response, and keep coming back to rants about American anti-intellectualism and the inability to understand that “criticism” != “censorship” and adding more of one thing doesn’t mean eradicating another. But, I mean, given the way people rant about the “college crisis” because more women go to college than men (never mind that more men are going to college than in previous years), I’m not surprised that the average American has no idea how use evidence to interpret the outcome of studies or hypothetical situations…………..

    Oops, I started ranting again. I guess it can’t be helped. Anyway, short me: Rawr.

  9. Ragnell says:

    And here I can’t seem to shut up about Larsen. Did you guys catch Larsen’s response to criticism of his knee-jerk column?

  10. So, I’m a man, not only that, I’m an asian american man. (Let’s not point out the random fact that I *do* in fact know kung fu, thereby propogating the stereotype that we all do.)

    And… I’m not terribly insulted by this. There, I said it.

    Mostly, because I’m assuming a large part of the marketing campaign’s idea was solely to piss you all off enough to propagate this bullshit to people who otherwise would have never turned on the TV to view it. (Like those in Japan, for example.)

    Basically, they’re getting free advertising on your website, wether you agree with them or not, a large number of people who never would have seen or thought about this suddenly have it thrust into the forefront of their consciousness. It would be far more detrimental to them for you simply to ignore it, and walk on, choosing not to buy their product. Personally, I consider it rather clever in that respect. Especially in a TIVO world where most people skip all the commercials of their shows these day anyway… Hmmm, maybe I give them to much credit, but I don’t think so on this one.

  11. And as a quick note, you have number III twice, and no number II. Obviously we know what you meant, but… It’s a big odd.

  12. tekanji says:

    Ragnell: I saw it linked on When Fangirls Attack, and I’ll say here what I said there:

    I must confess that the first thread was a bit of a “tl;dr” to me. I may go back and give it a good look-over when I get home (I need to leave for school, like, now). However, I am both amused and horribly saddened by the poster who describes Ragnell as a “fellow” when he attacks her. Although I suppose Assumption: Male is not a surprising state for someone who supports sexism.

    Webster: Well, that’s one way of looking at it. However, I believe that it’s better to have something “thrust into the forefront of [people's] consciousness” than let it dwell where most commercials do: firmly in the unconscious.

    One of the main things I do on this blog is critique pop-culture, and that includes ads. While I give whatever ad I’m critiquing higher (free) exposure, the point is to help people to actually think critically when they see advertisements, rather than just let them become part of the mental landscape.

    Because, honestly, the real harm of the BK commercial (and the other marketing campaigns like it) are how they subtly confirm culturally mandated norms; in this case, how, to be a real man, you must conform to certain stereotypes. If you sit down and think of it at a conscious level, of course it’s absurd; it’s a caricature of even the accepted view of masculinity. But we often feel truth in hyperbole and that, even more than the drive to go buy a whopper, is what will stick with people who see the commercial even once.

    Also, thanks for the heads up. I fixed the typo.

  13. Ragnell says:

    tek — Oh, I’m sorry. Since WFA is a linkblog, I don’t have the comments sent to me. I look at the linked threads and at people’s blogs for the discussion.

    (And I had the same reaction to that idiot)

  14. Dora says:

    Ragnell, I did indeed see that – and it was so absurd I didn’t know what to say, besides what was already covered by other commenters who pointed out that saying “we need more/realistic female characters” =/= censoring female characters. Ugh. The mental gymnastics that some men do in order to make themselves more “oppressed” than women …

  15. Mickle says:

    I’d heard of this ad before, but I’d never heard it.

    Now that I have – WTF is up with the showtunes?

  16. Lydia says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I love your blog, you rant so much more coherently than I can!

    I hadn’t seen this ad (I’m in the UK and don’t own a TV) but I watched it, and literally sat here open mouthed. It astounds me that companies still pull this kind of crap and don’t immediately take a nosedive. It reminded me of that Yorkie ‘not for girls’ campaign a few years ago, after which I refused to buy one ever again but most of my (female) friends thought it wasn’t a big deal. Worrying.

    Who sat in an office and decided this was a good idea?!

  17. tekanji says:

    Lydia: Thanks for de-lurking! I always love getting to know my readers :)

    I love your blog, you rant so much more coherently than I can!

    I do try :) My next post on gaming communities is still fairly incoherent at the moment, but I think I’ve hit my angle, so maybe I’ll be able to get it out sometime this weekend….

    Who sat in an office and decided this was a good idea?!

    Uh, greedy execs who see the new trend in encouraging men to actually care about themselves as a death knell for their company?

    No, I mean, seriously. I can’t think any other motivation than to try to pull men away from the increasing trend of health awareness because it’s bad for business. Women, I think, are seen as more of a “lost cause” because we’re traditionally seen as the “naggers” — ie. the ones who are supposed to care about “girly” stuff like health and, well, being alive.

  18. The song in the ad is a parody of “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy.

  19. tekanji says:

    The song in the ad is a parody of “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy.

    Ah, thanks. I’ve never heard “I Am Woman,” but from the sounds of it (and the way the song went in the commercial), I’m willing to wager that it’s yet another way for BK to degrade feminism and women in general.

  20. Lydia says:

    I guess I don’t expect ad execs to have, you know, morals or anything, but it just doesn’t seem a great marketing decision to put off half the market. Maybe you’re right – they really do think that women live on salads and quiche.

  21. stew says:

    The commercial is great! You people need to get a life. BK is just trying to sell burgers. I will buy at least one and possibly more because of the commercial. stop being so thin skinned. I am MAN!

  22. tekanji says:

    I am MAN!

    No, sir, for violating the clearly outlined discussion rules, you are BANNED.

  23. Philly Jay says:

    I saw this commerical a few times on tv.I thought it was funny.Especailly when they show the buger.It looks like it could give me a heart attack…….

  24. tekanji says:

    It looks like it could give me a heart attack…….

    And it probably will if you try to eat it. :P But, you know, REAL MEN love heart attacks.

  25. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » “I Am Man” Burger King Commercial

  26. CaptDMO says:

    Next evaluation of commercial advertising:
    Overstock .com
    Old Navy
    ANY exercise equiptment company

    I have to consider that most advertising is designed to attract the demographic
    outside of the dedicated customer base.
    I can only wonder why the current trend of folk with products that
    1.Suck
    2.Are harmful when overused, or at best,harmless rather than beneficial when used.
    3.Overpriced
    are being directed at young/middle aged males?

  27. midge says:

    i think the homoerotic elements that people have commented on serve to prove that the harder anyone tries to demonstrate the superiority of masculine heterosexuality by hating women (chick food!!), claiming that having a family is “emasculating” (dump that minivan!), and leaving art-appreciation and health-consciousness to “fags,” the more likely they are to accidentally embrace homosexual symbolism (“i am man and i will eat that meat!”). how else can men yearn for a world without the disgusting presence of females? with the burger kind world, men can wake up each morning with a burger-bearing kind in their beds.

  28. midge says:

    burger-bearing KING i mean.

  29. Pingback: Creative Destruction » “I Am Man” Burger King Commercial

  30. Chef says:

    This commercial is the worst I’ve seen. As if men eat at quality restaurants just to placate the women they’re with. I’m a man, and a chef and this ad offends me! I would never eat anything from BK or any other fast food restaurant, and this commercial affirms those feelings. There are three real problems as I see it. First, and most fundamentally, is that the American people are getting dumber. Second they’ve seen it all so advertisers are digging deeper and deeper to get something new. Finally, if they create some controversy, maybe they’ll get some extra coverage on news programs and morning shows.

  31. Chef says:

    I almost forgot, of course its the “Texas Double Whopper.” Why’d they have to bring George W. into it?

  32. mike says:

    Looks like much ado about nothing to me..

    Funny commercial.. highlighting and exaggerating the differences between the sexes is used as a marketing tool constantly.. this street runs both ways.

    Lunch time for me, I think I’ll go get an ultimate chalupa at Taco Bell, thank god the anti-Chihuahua defamation league didn’t shut them down!

    Lighten up.. after all, I’ll admit I’ve been fed quiche.

  33. Shad says:

    What a bunch of bullshit. I can’t believe you are even getting bent out of shape over this commercial. Its funny! Thats what its designed to be. Its not some sort of subtle brainwashing….

    Offended? You need a hobby or something then. That’s just pathetic..

  34. tekanji says:

    A not so friendly reminder: Comments like the two above are in violation of the disucssion rules (see that red text above the comment box? yeah, it means that you need to read the comment rules before opening your mouth here). Not to mention that saying things like, “lighten up” or “that’s just pathetic” flies in the face of polite discussion and makes you look like an asshole.

    The two offenders have been banned, and any future comments that violate the discussion rules in any way will be deleted without notice. This thread will not become a waste bucket for trolls, idiots, and misogynists. If you have a different point of view express it politely. This isn’t rocket science, people. Really.

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  36. dan gillotte says:

    AUgust at http://www.xoverboard.com has a good post and comic today about this terrible commercial.
    I find it interesting that a major burger chain is mentioning tofu in their ads, but I really disapprove of the underlying message(s) of it. The idea that meat eating makes you a man is such utter and complete nonsense. The logical ending of this commercial, though is each of these dudes collapsing from heart failure or being constipated or at least being dumped by their women.
    On one hand, I hope that it’s just a pathetic little squeak of an attempted backlash and not a beginning of a real scary one.
    I find it offensive and degrading to men and women not to mention horrfiying from a vegetarian perspective.
    These ads, like the jack in the box ads from a gew years ago, are so offensive, that I sometimes wonder if they aren’t stealth ads made by pro-vegan feminists. Probably not, though.

  37. Phil Welch says:

    I guess it’s just a difference of perspectives here, but I really don’t see how the ad can be considered as offensive as a lot of people here are making it out to be. First off, it should be noted that it’s intended as humor, and employs techniques (such as parody and exaggeration) toward a humorous end. Yes, it invokes several stereotypes, but only for the comfort and familiarity that those stereotypes provide to the target market. Is it anti-feminist in that it seeks to define and celebrate “masculine” virtues, or that it invokes a conception of gender so that gender is significant to behavior? Arguably, but this meaning is nonetheless tempered by humor.

    The message of this ad is that society seeks to emasculate men by attacking their essential male nature by stripping them of filling and tasty foods, forcing them to wear restrictive underwear (an almost physical emasculation), and expecting them to drive minivans (a type of vehicle associated not only with women, but with *mothers*). The ad further posits Burger King’s “Texas Double Whopper” as a remedy to such emasculation. The word “Texas” recalls images of John Wayne, cowboys, the Alamo, and other “manly” cultural references, while “Double Whopper” serves to show that this burger has twice the meat of a “standard” burger. (This is a particularly important point given the contrast with the paltry portion size of the meal presented at the beginning of the ad.)

    Overall, the ad is a joking appropriation of feminist motifs in order to “liberate” men from a society that increasingly seeks to feminize and emasculate them. It appears that one’s level of offense at it is directly correlated with how seriously one takes these things, and while these are indeed serious issues to discuss, it would be a mistake to say there is no place for humor. As a man, my response to y our post is: it’s gracious of you to be offended on our behalf, but quite unnecessary.

  38. j t says:

    “Overall, the ad is a joking appropriation of feminist motifs in order to “liberate” men from a society that increasingly seeks to feminize and emasculate them.”

    Yes, indeed. And what strikes me is odd about the hubbub this commercial has created in the blogosphere is the apparent implication that BK has created, and is disseminating, this idea of women enslaving and denying men their true selves. This is marketing, folks; they’re only working with what’s already there, so to speak, and the ad works for them because it taps into an idea a lot of guys find appealing, whether reasonably so or not, and then exploits it for brand identity.

    I personally find the ads dumb, but no more offensive than, well, most advertising, as much of it is trying to do the same thing, with different frames and aiming at different demographics.

  39. Pentacle5 says:

    *Sighs* It’s true, meat is seen as man food! Now I’m going to go a little off topic, and I hope that’s all right. Why is it that whenever I talk about gender equality, I either get called a feminazi or a ball-breaker?!? I don’t hate men! I just don’t like sexism and I want to have an equal amount of rights as men. Is that so wrong? Now, cereal box characters. I haven’t seen ONE major cereal box character who’s FEMALE. What the h*ll?!? Toucan Sam has THREE NEPHEWS! You’re telling me he couldn’t have had ONE niece? Come on! Hm. Men against women, carnivores against vegetarians. What Christians against Witches? I think that’s another one (I have nothing against men, carnivores, or Christians). Jaze! I am a vegetarian feminist witch! Leave me alone! Lol. I appologize for my rant that has almost nothing to do with the topic. I’ve never posted here before. Um…bye.

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  42. Casteen says:

    I just found this via a link over in livejournal.

    Very good analysis. I want to add that the commercials I’ve seen for it also have cheerleaders (more stereotyping about the appropriate position for women in the caveman mentality), and BK does still carry their vegetarian burger (ironically enough). Indeed, they microwave it rather than running it over the grill so vegetarians don’t have to deal with that issue.

  43. z says:

    Casteen, Marketing and the company in question are rarely related. Most marketing isn’t even done by the company, but sent around to ad firms with the few actual ‘marketing directors’ approving the final product. I’m pretty certain BK does this, most major franchise chains/retail giants do. (Wendy’s is the exception, not the norm, thanks to Dave Thomas.)
    This is how BK can be so considerate to vegan customers but run ads taunting them. The people friendly to us likely have little to no pull in who approves advertising. May not even know them. Big company, many divisions, and all.
    no name used since this is my first post. (found through LJ as well)

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  45. daisy says:

    As a married women, I saw this commercial and asked what my husband thought. He had a laugh and I asked how he wasn’t offended. He simply said, why do guys play football, wrestle with friends, or eat huge burgers. Boys will be boys. He left me with that thought and I agreed. This commercial is targetted at men, let them enjoy it, and let them eat their meat.

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  47. daisy says:

    Hi again,

    I guess I feel bad about misleading you but its not about who writes, but what the writing is right? Please keep that in mind. Im actually a sixteen year old boy in high school. I remembered the commercial and tried to find it online (I remembered it being a catchy and a rather funny song) when I stumbled across this discussion. I saw some of the ideas of the guys that wrote responses and decided to put them into a womens point of view to get your positive attention. Anyways like many arguments that exist, I see good points in your side but am sticking with mine. Anyways I’d just thought Id let you know.

    -Daisy (Mark)

  48. andrew says:

    hi there

    i like your interpretation,i just like to say that this ad is really cool,although i have never been to a burger king and never will go. i think the reason why men pick up this lifestyle that is proposed, is that they want to be part of the horde(where they need to know their role,alphamale, or protector of the groupe,worker, etc),represented at the end of the ad by the guys on the bridge(the horde). But i dont see the ad in a bad perspective because it just shows how you will develope if you join that horde of unhealthy people considering the fitness in terms of looks of the guy at the start compared to that fat b****** at the end who is in a way adicted to that junkburger. it set a common value of an unmade groupe doesnt it;”eat this meat” and you will be part of the horde….
    i think you have a point about the marketing people of this hating men because in a way a primitive man defines his status and importance in a group by the number of chicks he has to his disposal and we all know that girls like healthy good looking guys and not fat greasy stinking pigs(dont you think the guy who is going to eat off the spade of the girl at the end represents a pig,they are fed that way arent they…).
    so as those who are intelligent and live a healthy lifestyle stay on a same level,those eating those burgers for every meal have a deficiancy in certain foodgroups and dont develop well(store up excess food groups that their body doesnt need in those vast quantities),i guess you know what i mean,if you like for example only eat carbohydrates and little fat and little quantities of proteins you will be skinny…so ultimatively these “unintelligent” people only eating burgers will become less desirable for women…also women are taught a healthier lifestyle through this clip as you say because, what is the point of a man being more attractive in relative terms,if women become unattractive as well as th majority of men through this lifestyle… so you have to also consider that females,at least in wildlife get banged by the alphamale of the group,so their babies will be the best possible combination of “genes” or something like that,biologically it is selfexplicable why all women should be fit and only have relations to the alphamale,because one male can be father of 100s of kids every year whereas women can only give birth once every 9months in human cases….
    but still the ad is cool but you have to be already pretty low in selfestime if you are gonna fall for this as an adult,the main consern lies with kids because when they grow up in front of tv,they do not always know that ads and tv programs only reflect an idea or phantasie,…why do you think girls all what to be size 0,well because all girls on tv look that way,it is crazy in a way how complicated cildrens programs are in terms of understanding,i mean do kids really understand what is going on or what cartoons are trying to bring over(working and harvesting so you have something when winter comes 4example),just look at batman of the future,i mean what is going on,there is a crime and then the hero steps up to the challenge and destroys the bady,so kids do actually think that beating up someone who has done wrong is right,they dont know that selfjustice is considered wrong when they are like 10years do they?i grew up with tv,and looking back at what i was watching i was never understanding the messages it worries me if people still think that educational childrens programs are doing what they are supposed to do. but then again i think kids should be taught by their parents what is right and what is wrong and especially what worries me is why do kids worry about their future at the age of 12, i mean they seriously take school so serious that they learn everything and know nothing when they are finished,and they cheat to achieve their goals dont they,beacause they dont want to accept that not everyone can be the best.i think instead of learning 8hours a day they should have social contacts,because what is happening with all these fat kids in germany and the UK is that they have no friends and they become frustrated with everything,and whilst they believe that they are becoming more and more intelligent they cant see the truth. that full focus on work as a lifestyle is basically slavery,just look at all those rich and wealthy people who dont work and own capital that is being increased by financial experts working for them,seems to me that although we are a overproducing society globaly,it still isnt possible for everybody to work less because gouvernments have these crazy targets of keeping inflation down and employment high(basically if inflation went up rich people would lose money in real terms and poor people who work and are paid in realtion to the index in certain countries like luxembourg become wealthier,ultimatly destroying the status quo of higher classes to lower classes based on gender and class not on achievement/merit,so poor people can become welthy through work instead of working and stayong poor like it is actually…). i mean what is the point of the population working in all these services that are consumed mainly by the higher classes.
    jee this has become political but life is a complex thing isnt it,just think about it,their is a relation between the ad i commented and the economical comment on society if you are able to guide people in a way that no matter what they do makes them worse than you then you are beating them and gaining more and more advantages,i mean do we seriously think that when a guy like that sainsburyguy giving a few million to charity is a true gesture of charity and generosity,NO! i dont because if a persons pays himself something like 200million a year,whilst he is cutting down his employees wages then that is exactly what i was talking about, isnt it!In relation to 200millions,5million for charity is nothing isn’t if its like one of his employees who earns like 1000pounds a months giving 25pounds to charity, so why say wow 5 million,that’s generous, SURE! Its like Schumacher giving 10million for the tsunami,when his is like in switzerland saving about 50% of his wage in terms of taxes, pfff…it is about time for some new system that will deal with this injustice, or someone to cause inflation to go up like it has been in argentina, so once money is worth nothing people will have to start over again from nothing, this will destroy those who have achieve wealth through heritage or lottery, etc… people who don’t know what work is, or how it is written! Alternatively part time with equal pay would be a good solution, just cut Sainsbury and Schumachers wages by 99.9% they don’t even deserve that 200K for what they do, I mean for 200million I think you should like work 9000hours a day! The problem in capitalism is that money is a right to consume, and that liberty is defined by the possibility to consume, so those who are wealthy are truly free like in medieval times where the noblemen did not work! Society is something that doesn’t change does it,and yes you are right I do believe in communism, and that argument that it didn’t work is rubbish,it couldn’t compete because Russia and east Europe started at nothing,imagine how western Europe would have done without materialistic supply from the US whose production system was still intact, basically what wasn’t good in communism is linked to human behaviour, the roles that are never equal(alpha male…),people try to gain power over others, principal of leadership and followers,like in every ad, they always use a good looking person people look up to don’t they,so people think that by adopting their lifestyles they will achieve the same good looks,attraction,ect…this is what every ad uses to make people consume their goods,set a reference person that people look up to,so never forget,you can only improve by adopting real peoples lifestyle, not tv personalities whose lifestyles are “shown” in 5minutes or in programs for half an hour…

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  51. Dylan says:

    Really good article. I’m a media student looking at how, through advertising, the fast food industry is perceived by the public. Your depiction of the advert, while being highly amusing, was great! and gave me many ideas and thoughts around the subject. So yeh… Cheers. Much appreciated and keep up the good work

  52. Sarah says:

    Regarding the “eat this meat” sign: I saw it as addressed somewhat at myself (ie, a woman) in the “bite me, bitch” kind of way. The ad is saying that if you don’t approve of their manly ways, maybe you should just get down on your knees and choke down some dick. (Sorry, that was a bit crude; please imagine air quotes! :p)

    Alternatively, it is directed at less “manly” men, neatly conflating homosexuality, submission, femininity and out-group status. …It *does* strike me as slightly weird that the marketing pitch, in the latter case, is “eat my man-meat or be a cock-sucker” …six of one, half a dozen of the other? >.<; (I’m actually trying to write a paper for a “masculinity in english literature” class about how men use feminizing terms on other men to sexually/socially/politically dominate them. But your darn blog keeps distracting me!)

  53. BetaCandy says:

    What’s interesting is that men aren’t offended by seeing themselves depicted as primitive boobs. Let’s assume for a moment it’s not that offensive toward women, or if it is that’s okay because it’s humor and the company is just doing what it must to appeal to the target audience. Even so, you still have a commercial that you just KNOW men will bring up the next time you or I or some other blogger critiques a commercial that demeans women: “Oh, stop whining! The BK commercials and Homer Simpson make us look ridiculous, and you don’t see us whining about it!”

    And about the homoeroticism… I didn’t get to see the commercial (looks like YouTube yanked the vid), so I’m going off your description and screengrabs, but I see it more as narcissism. Men who prefer socializing with (or watching on screen) other men are not necessarily sexually motivated: it’s often that they feel the other men reflect them and validate them. And they need the women to symbolize an emasculating enemy force not so much because they hate women as because the easiest way for terrifically insecure people to feel more sure of themselves is to unite against a common enemy.

    Basically, however you slice it, the ad is appealing to some really sad male insecurities, and should be offending people for that reason, if not all the others.

  54. tekanji says:

    BetaCandy said:

    I didn’t get to see the commercial (looks like YouTube yanked the vid)

    I updated it with a working link.

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  56. Keene says:

    It’s just an ad that appeals to the male id. The male id is eat, sleep, and sex if at all possible. This one tries to break down the super ego by showing men do manly things while eating the hamburger. I don’t think it’s calling men dumb, I think It’s making fun of society and telling men to eat when they’re hungry, and why not eat this particular burger.

    The commercial is too ridiculous to be taken seriously. You pointed out a lot of good things, but did you consider that it’s men dancing in a street and singing a song? So just laugh with it and don’t think it deliberately degrades men. It merely reinforces stereotypes (like all ads) and appeals to the male brain at the most basic of levels: eat.

  57. Llencelyn says:

    Keene, please consider this your one and only warning. The discussion rules for this blog clearly state that dismissing the topic of a post as unnecessary/irrelevant will not be tolerated. Any further rule-breaking on your part will be deleted without warning. I suggest you read the discussion rules before commenting further.

    In this case, you have violated Rule 11, which states:

    We have enough people telling us to “grow a thicker skin” when we object to offensive jokes, or telling us “it’s just a game/tv show/movie/etc!” when we try to discuss the connections between oppression and culture, or having them tell us to stop saying women are oppressed because “men have it bad, too” or “not all women would agree”, and it will not be tolerated on a space that’s specifically for discussing our opinions on the world. If you disagree with a point, you can say so without negating that point as a valid argument.

  58. Philos says:

    I am not offended to be honest. My reasons are, some that I gave you before in the other post (I am an individual, I am not a member of a group) and, also, I think the Ad to be too hilarious and to express so much stupidity, that goes beyond becoming something worth of being offended; is just too stupid.

    To get offended by this, is like getting offended by christan conservatives calling me a promiscuous person, with no dignity, ugly and to burn in hell, because I have sexual intercourse, out of marriage, with no purpose of reproduction, but only pleasure or whatever else.

  59. Philos says:

    To add something more, even if I got offended then what? I am not sure if offense is enough for restricting or limiting someone else expression. I am firmly in the position that harm to the other is 99.9% a good reason for limiting someone else’s freedom, but offense is more complicated, since my being offended might be preconceived and culturally conditioned (like being offended at homosexuals).

    Demarcating when one should and should not, take action against a material or person that offends you, is a difficult question I think.

  60. Philos says:

    Above I imply that you want to limit or restrict speech or expression, you did not said that anywhere.

    I think – if you can fix the three posts, I would be please, too many loose responses; probably because I cannot do a post-edit, I can only edit in the moment – even if this does not causes me offense or anything, we should try to make ourselves aware of the ad and its stupidity, humour some call it, maybe they laugh at its stupidity, I did too, which is a shallow.
    To not absorbe the ad as model to follow or as what a man is meant to be, etc. I think this to be the correct reaction, and I think analyses like you do are helpful to make us remember that we have to be aware of not caring what the other says about what we have to be or what it implies about whom we should be, whether it be an ad or a politician or a celebrity. Be original, be yourself, release from your arms the chains of tradition, the tyranny of culture and the oppression of public opinion. Live to your own ideals, stop merely existing and live. As Wilde said, “the individual (should) develop freely, beautifully, and naturally”.

    This, too by Wile, should be placed in every corner:

    “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

    Probably I went a bit off-topic :P. I love liberty too much and I hate all this fucking oppressions and nonsense around me, a lot!

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