Friday, March 2, 2012

Me, Kate Upton, Carl's Jr., the AFA and Sex.

My wife and I have had a long and storied history with the American Family Association.  We go back so far with this organization, in fact, that we pre-date its current name.  It used to be called the National Federation for Decency, and Cindy and I founded an NFD Chapter in Humble, Texas, back in the 1980s.

Our Chapter meetings were interesting, because a lot of "characters" showed up, not all of who had the same notion of decency.  Once, a fellow showed up who was a conspiracy theorist.  He believed that television was evil, because the government had secretly turned every TV receiver into a combination camera and transmitter.  They used it to spy on the citizenry.  If we were watching the TV, the government was watching us.

Another guy showed up just once, a European.  He didn't really hold to our and the NFD's idea that "decency" inheres in the absence of smut.  He had ideas about how people ought to treat other people decently, that kind of thing.  Since then, I have often wished that I had really had the ability to listen to him that evening.  Sometimes, I even wonder if we entertained an angel unawares.

The guy who ran the regional NFD organization was kind of nutcase Fundamentalist.  But maybe so was I; I had not yet discovered Anglicanism and become a nutcase Anglican.  This pastor held a Rally for Decency in Civil Society, or some such thing, which  Cindy and I attended.  The onliest thing about that was that the pastor's definition of decency was basically that women should not wear shorts, and Cindy wore shorts to the rally that day.  We both felt like the guest at the wedding feast who had crashed the party without the proper clothing.  At this rally, the pastor also told us that the Bible defined "nakedness" as any skin being visible above the knee.  We went out later that week and bought Cindy some new, very long jogging shorts, cut ridiculously below the knee, so that she should not be seen running around the small Texas town "naked".

We eventually realized that the Humble Chapter of the NFD was going nowhere, so we dropped out of active participation.  But we still read the NFD/AFA magazine and supported their boycots where we could.

It was still in the 1980s when my thinking started to depart from that of Don Wildmon and the AFA.  I remember that the AFA magazine had featured an editorial by Tim Wildmon, Don's son, about the absolute scandal of bumper stickers on which was written "Shit Happens".  He objected to the coarse language.  I fired off a letter to Tim Wildmon, letting him know that he had missed the point entirely!  I told him that his objection should have been that the bumper sticker denies two basic truths of Christianity:  God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.  By stating that "Shit Happens" the bumper sticker leaves God out of the picture.  It also purports to give man an excuse for his own misdeeds.  Curiously, I never heard back from Wildmon or the AFA.

But I promised you Kate Upton and Carl's Jr., didn't I?  Today, I received an email from the AFA, asking me to boycot Carl's Jr. and Hardee's for running the following "sordid titillation" ...

I guess that since leaving the AFA and buying Cindy some regular length jogging shorts (she has great legs!) I have gone over to the dark side, but I am somehow not shocked or even titillated by the Kate Upton commercial.  Maybe I'm just getting old.  It did make me want a hamburger, I will admit.

Using sexy girls to promote products has been done for a very long time.  I'm sorry to tell Mr. Wildmon and the AFA, but I think they lost this battle at least as early as 1950 ...


JackOfClubs said...

I grant that this is not shocking to anyone who has been awake for the past half-century, but if you don't find it even a little titilating I humbly submit that you are not paying attention. That may be a good thing -- I have been trying to get evangelicals to pay less attention to the provocations of the media for years -- but it doesn't facilitate the analysis. And there is much here to analyze.

First, who the hell wants to make out with a woman who has been eating jalapenos? I love jalapenos and I love kissing, but only a fool would try to combine the two pleasures. Madison Avenue, with its typical obtuseness, fails to understand that there are categories and even hierarchies of enjoyment that must be observed. The appetites, left to themselves and unguided by the virtues and reason, are incapable of even their own satisfaction.

Second, (and lest I be accused of humorlessness, let me preface this by saying that the ending segment did make me smile, a little), what is with the manichean paradigm? There are two women, one unihibited and aroused, the other controlling and unresponsive. The sole male (if you don't count the Carl's Jr. Star) must be physically restrained from witnessing the erotic display, but there is no hint of compensating intimacy or even affection. What is the message here, that virtuous women are incapable of orgasm? Bah! These idiots should read the fricking Song of Solomon. With such a screwed up sexual ethos, it is small wonder we are barely able to reproduce our population.

Finally, does anyone go to drive-in movies anymore? Why do all of our cultural icons have to come from the 1950s? Oh, that's right, because that was the time of the repressive, patriarchal, American hegemony and whatever would we do with ourselves if we didn't have all that to rebel against?

The sad thing is, Carl's Jr makes an excellent burger and it doesn't need all this manipulation to sell them. I don't mind looking at pretty girls now and then, but I resent people who think I can be jerked around like this.

Anglican Beach Party said...

Your analysis is great, Jack, probably better than my blog. You make many great points.

In the end, the advertisement fails to work on me, because I am unwilling to combine jalapenos with hamburgers, much less kissing. So, the burger which the commercial leaves me wanting is a different one than than they are advertising. And the rest of your 2nd paragraph is valid, also. I took the entire thing as a metaphor, I guess, rather than a literal and nonsensical combining of pleasures: this new hamburger is hot, as "hot" as this young woman.

I read the ending of the ad, which was my favourite part, a bit differently. I think the physical restraining of the male character by the virtuous woman is itself a sign of intimacy and affection. As Chesterton said, a man's friends like him and leave him as he is; a man's wife loves him and so is always trying to change him into someone else. I can see where someone uninitiated and uninformed regarding the company of a virtuous woman could come away with the message you describe, though, so point taken.

Your 3rd point resounds with me most strongly. The reason all our cultural icons have to come from the 1950s is that we (America, the 21st Century) have become culturally bankrupt. All the best things in life are becoming extinct or illegal. Hot rods, Kodachrome, good church music, good architecture. Even the people driving these things away admit they are the best when they make or respond to ads like this one. No one builds beautiful churches any more. As a society, we apparently want ugly ones. And yet when a local famous Gospel singer wanted to look on his album cover like he was "in church", he asked the Rector of our 1850 (not 1950) built church to let him use that. We know what is real and best, and then choose what is fake and inferior.

Lastly, I also agree about the burgers being good at Carl's Jr. But not as good as In-N-Out burgers, which have cleverly built the suggestive sexual message right into the name of their franchise.