“You have got to be kidding me,” I exclaim aloud, even though I am running on a treadmill and do not expect a response from any of the other runners around me. I just saw the latest Hardee’s commercial, supposedly advertising their Memphis BBQ burger, though it seemed more like the commercial was advertising the two women than any item of food. I guess the old adage that sex sells is still pertinent, at least in the minds of this marketing company.
For those who have not seen the commercial, it begins with two teenage-looking boys selling food at what appears to be a fair. We observe them as their jaw drops, then the camera pans to two women dressed in bathing suit tops and shorts who are grilling meat. Their separate pieces combine in their attempt to flip the meat, causing a fight, which ultimately leads to them seductively eating together.
Following their previous commercials, this one objectifies women’s bodies in an effort to sell burgers as exclusively for sexual consumption targeted presumably for heterosexual male viewers, likely their key demographic customers. Women’s bodies are the focus of the camera during the commercial, and the viewer is unsure of the advertised product until the very end. Key shots during the commercial include single body parts of the women, in particular their stomachs, breasts, and butts, and few shots include their entire body and face, projecting the image that these women are their sexualized body parts. The fact that two men are not the central characters in this commercial is not an accident, as homophobic fears would likely decrease rather than increase sales. And since the commercials continue to objectify women’s bodies and sexuality in their advertisement of burgers, it seems the approach has been effective. Though I feel a bit more than confused about how these two objectified women are related to a burger …
Distinct from previous commercials is the use of two women to advertise this product. Although objectified women have been used to sell burgers in the past, this commercial represents the first use of implied same-sex sexual behavior to advertise a new burger. This approach objectifies not only women’s bodies and sexualities but also the experience of lesbian women. It completely invalidates the actual experience of lesbian women by commodifying the same-sex sexual behavior as solely for the pleasure and consumption of the presumable heterosexual male viewers. The sexual interaction is for these viewers, not for themselves, as viewers can perceive the performance on the commercial as for their own benefit. Thus, the commercial devalues the relationship between the two women in and of itself because it serves as solely for the heterosexual male viewers’ pleasure. This commodification is problematic in a world where women’s bodies are not their own, since now their sexuality is not their own either.
So I am left with the question: how do we become a society that values women and all women’s experience for what they are rather than as a means to sell products?
written by Allie Minieri