There’s this dreadful ad presently running:
Now, from a pure-comedy standpoint, the computer-enhanced doofy expressions on the men’s faces really are pretty funny. They ain’t Mort Drucker, but as caricature goes they’re decent.
Pretty much everything else in this is awful.
Before I even get into the sexism, can I just say that this is a really ineffective ad campaign for milk? The classic “Got Milk?” ads were based on market research that showed that milk is just something most people expect to have in the house, and they only really think about it when they run out. Please, show me one single consumer who thinks “Well, I wasn’t going to get any milk, but… reduces PMS symptoms, you say? Shit, let’s stock up!”
So really, when you come down to it, this isn’t an ad for milk. This is an ad for the concept of “Bitches be crazy.” A popular and long-running concept, it’s the notion that women are fundamentally irrational creatures who cannot be reasoned with or engaged with on any level. All you can do is try to appease this mad creature with gifts, in this case an average of 1.75 gallons of generic milk. (Ladies, I apparently cannot fathom the depths of your lunacies, but… seriously, have you ever sat around going “Gosh, but I could go for 1.75 gallons of generic milk right now, that would surely win my favor”?)
The craziness of women, of course, emanates directly from their uterus. We used to call it hysteria (okay, some still do), nowadays we pass it off as PMS, but either way it’s understood to be a direct correlation. If you have womanly parts, you are bugfuck nuts and there’s nothing to be done about it. Women reading this, how often have your concerns or emotions been dismissed or laughed off on the grounds that it must just be your wacky hormones talking?
And that’s exactly what we’re seeing in this ad. These six guys are completely dismissing whatever their wives or girlfriends are saying. They’re not listening, they’re not engaging, they’re just blindly capitulating to whatever strange mouth-noises she’s making, and desperately hurling dairy products at the problem.
Talk about your problems? Try to understand your wife’s perspective? Actually apologize for something, instead of just making apologetic sounds that don’t relate to anything real? Pfah! Those are tools for dealing with a rational being, not the fearsome and wild-eyed creature known as Woman.
What we’re seeing here is an odd fetishization, in a lot of pop culture, of really awful relationships. Clearly these guys aren’t happy, and clearly the women they’re frantically waving milk at aren’t happy either. And yet this is presented as a normal, standard relationship. This ad is, by its very structure, what Holly has called a “that always happens” joke. Ha-ha, marriage: the union of a miserable raving harpy with a miserable cringing moron, amirite? There is nothing higher to aspire to than that, we are constantly subtly informed: the best-case scenario is a crazy bitch and a stupid asshole making each other unhappy until one of them does the other one the favor of dying. That is the implicit conceptual structure underlying this ad. If we fail to take that idea of marriage for granted, there’s nothing funny about this ad but the amusing faces they’re making.
Oh wait, that’s right.