Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dude, at least change your name to Chuck Leathery.

Often when I write an item like yesterday's last one—where I went off on "push presents"—someone will accuse me of misogyny. Believe me, I sympathize with what American females are up against in certain respects. As I pointed out to one of my anonymous critics, I've blogged about the burden our culture imposes on women in such areas as body image, overall appearance, even personal hygiene. As it happens, I have another beef on that score.

How many of you have seen that grating and fundamentally stupid spot for Ocean Potion anti-aging sunblock, starring game-show bobble-head Chuck Woolery and those two sun-worshiping cuties, Megan and Jill? Clearly Ocean Potion went out of its way to make its new ad even more grating and fundamentally stupid than the old ad, also starring Woolery. (Here's a link to that previous ad. I couldn't find the new one online. Maybe one of our readers can?) Anyway, in the key action of the current ad, Woolery—ever the mischievous imp—decides he's going to prove the efficacy of Ocean Potion by asking both girls to sunbathe, but allowing only Megan to protect herself with the product. There's a quick dissolve, and then our hero is back for the big reveal. Megan's all bubbly and doing just fine. But Jill erupts in horror, clutching at her dessicated visage. "My face!" she shrieks, "my beautiful face!" That's because she now looks like...Chuck Woolery!

Maybe it's just me, folks, but every time I watch that ad (which runs every 19 seconds on Lifetime), I can't help being struck by that very thought: Doesn't anybody even notice what Woolery looks like? Here's a guy who resembles a freakin' Shar Pei—who could give Kevlar a run for its money when it comes to sheer toughness-of-hide—and he's smugly passing judgment on poor Jill. (He actually grimaces and turns away from her in disgust at the moment of truth.) You'd think Ocean Potion would pick a guy with skin like a baby's butt for a spot like that. But apparently smooth skin is not something we require of men in this culture. If you're a guy, you can look every bit as wrinkly as the sun-scarred Jill—and even be the public face of the anti-aging product!

I guess it's a testament to the gender skew in the way we regard aging in this culture that I'm probably one of the few people, male or female, who sees it that way.

P.S. I'm not being holier-than-thou, either. My face looks like Chuck's.


Anonymous said...

I just saw the ad tonight and this blog of yours is hysterical. RIght on the money!

Voltaire said...

I've been saying for years that advertisers think we're idiots.

Steve Salerno said...

Well, Voltaire, I agree about the advertisers--and let's face it, we consumers don't do much to discourage them from treating us like idiots. We fulfill our part of the bargain, falling for the lame ad lines over and over again, buying their stupid (often overpriced) products. But my main point about this ad was that it's so plainly insulting to women, as it so clearly epitomizes the double standard we have when it comes to aging.

Elizabeth said...

I'd say the double standard in aging has been at work from the time immemorial, Steve. This is not going to change any time soon (if ever). There are biological/evolutionary reasons for that: women's desirability is defined by her fertility (= youth, relatively speaking). Getting older, as signaled by physical changes in appearance (most notably skin appearance) takes a woman out of the "desirable" bracket. Men do not face this biological/evolutionary pressure: on the contrary, many (if not all) men get more desirable (to women) as they age (something about status, power, money, and often, yeah, wisdom -- don't laugh). Say what you want about the double standard (no, I don't like it either), but there are reasons beyond it.

So marketers do what they do best -- exploit our (legitimate) fears to sell products that do exactly nothing.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your jazz corner, and I might add, a painfully beautiful WOMAN, my god who is that?

Steve Salerno said...

Jane Monheit.

roger o'keefe said...

I actually thought that was our own Alyssa. Except the girl in the video isn't pretty enough. ;-)

Steve, in all seriousness, I want to compliment you on the added content, especially the jazz. I'm getting an education in American music.

Steve Salerno said...

What am I running an eHarmony here, or what...?

Anonymous said...

I hate Chuck Woolery. He's such a snake oils salesman touting products. You know what's weird about that advertisement though?
The girl whose face ends up getting scarred and aged rapidly by the sun ends up having men chase after her at the end of the commercial while the other girl sits all alone in her lawn chair.

Talk about a contradiction!

Steve Salerno said...

Really? I never noticed that, Anon. If they run the ad again next spring/summer, I'll have to look for that.

Maybe they're just trying to hunt her down because--having now aged--she doesn't deserve to live...?

Anonymous said...

The advertisement is right here online.


Towards the end, A guy is running after Jill.