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May 06 2006

The Unbearable Meatness of Being

Last night, while musing on this and that and applying some stinky homeopathic goo to my radiation-inflamed boobal-amputation scar, I glanced up to observe that the television was on, and that it was polluting my living room with a TGI Friday’s commercial.

Despite the name, there is no jovial innkeeper named Friday. TGI Friday’s is in fact a corporate entity owned by a many-tentacled conglomerate called Carlson, which also owns a bunch of tacky travel agencies and crappy hotels, including the Radisson, home away from home to guys who carry cheap black leather briefcases. Carlson’s 923 Friday’s “casual dining” hellholes are notable, as are all apostrophized corporate slop troughs, only for their ability to remain ubiquitous despite their sickeningly inedible products (which may or may not contain soylent green) and their persistent and transparent efforts to degrade the entire human species.

Unsurprisingly, the aforementioned commercial was asinine beyond belief: four dudely young morons boo-yah over some disgusting meat entree (served, no doubt, on a bed of Velveeta, Jack Daniels, and bacon fat). Meat, meat, meat, and then one femmy guy tries to boo-yah a sprig of broccoli, whereupon the other three basically call him a faggot until he waggles a sausage in the air, reaffirming the meatly phallocentricity of the group. Meat = dick, vegetables = pussy, nonconformity and gender ambiguity weaken male cohesion, etc. I was overcome with inarticulate rage over this fucktarded display, so naturally I was relieved this morning to see that both Shakespeare’s Sister (“Be a man! Eat shit!) and Amanda have given this thing a proper skewering.

Friday’s pioneered the bourgeois Tiffany-lamp meat market bar concept in the 70′s. Coincidence? I think not.

32 comments

2 pings

  1. Matt25

    I was going to mention the Burger King “meat” ad, in addition, but I see it’s already well described in the post by Shakespeare’s Sister. It’s a strange ad, because although it’s full of stupid and offensive hetero-masculine bluster, it also has lines of men marching and dancing (some with tank tops), and at one point there’s a banner with words something like “Eat This Meat”, which, in that context, didn’t make me think of animal products. Am I the only one who had that reaction? It seems far too risque to be deliberate in an ad, but it also strikes me as too obvious to have been overlooked, if you had enough people preview the ad in focus groups or whatever they use these days. This is one of those times when I feel like popular culture just doesn’t make sense, even in its own patriarchy-defined terms.

  2. Hattie

    This is what it’s about. It’s hey, boys, you don’t need women any more. You can get all the food, drink, and entertainment you want without bothering with annoying females. In other words, it’s for losers. And aren’t there a lot of them around these days, though!

  3. cto

    This is only tangentially related, but I just saw it yesterday, and it’s also meat-related, so allow me to share. It’s a completely awesome short (very short) story: They’re Made Out Of Meat. And someone made a short movie, if you’re interested – pretty much the dialog acted out. But the story’s the good part.

  4. scratchy888

    There are some nice tips concerning bacon on this site: http://backgammonmotherfucker.blogspot.com/

  5. Kate

    I do not agree with Shakie’s sis. Sure, the ads target a certain demographic and sure its insulting — but not to them.

    That this demographic’s health may diminish as a result of making dumb-ass decisions based on the marketing of some corporate conglomerate, seems but a small tragedy to me; somewhere between toenail fungus and crabgrass eradication.

    I see this as a new Darwinism. Can we place a commerical during the Stuperbowl showing that jumping off a highway overpass guarantees eternal manhood and will be rewarded with tons of endless, unquestioning, servile pussy from huge breasted, blind virgins?

  6. ae

    Thank you, Twisty! I snorted my ass off the couch yesterday when I had the displeasure of seeing this commercial. Are we still on this bullshit? Yes. Yes, we are, because men, apparently, are so fucking sad that their “manliness” can be shored up by monosyllabic grunts and porno shots of chunks of meat. This is deeply tragic. And where are the MFs to point it out, please?

    Do y’all have Hardee’s “restaurants” where you are? It’s a burger joint here in the Southeast owned by the Carl’s, Jr. folks, and I beseech you never to darken its doors (either joint), not least of which because it’s a godbag-owned company (they’re “pro-life” activists), but in a more related example because they have a series of the stupidest and most baldly sexist commercials I’ve seen in years. The commercials break down thusly: 1) hot chicks blowing burgers (I shit you not), 2) schlubby guys ignoring hot chicks while themselves blowing burgers and working on cars. The whole mess is innuendoized just short of “it’ll make your dick bigger” and I have to cover my eyes for fear that one of these schlubs is going to go off the reservation and fuck the burger. Also, the deep, drawling, baritone voiceover is enough to make me go all Valerie Solanas on them.

  7. Rad Geek

    Paging Carol Adams. Carol Adams to the TV, stat…

  8. Tapetum

    I’ve never been able to stand Fridays as an adult, but not, I think, for the usual reasons. I grew up near the original TGIFridays. It was a wonderful place to go, with a menu larger than most novels – if you could think it up, it was probably in the menu. Food was very good, if not gourmet, staff was well-trained and friendly, without the mandatory bling they seem to go for in the chains – choice of dress in the wait-staff was wide, and often weird. It was a great place to take kids to.

    When they made the chain, they basically threw out all the stuff that actually made TGIFridays good, and kept the loudest window dressing. Bleh.

  9. Mandos

    Since moving to the Plateau of Gorgoroth, I have only eaten at a Mordorian chain “restaurant” once, I think. Located in the vicinity of Barad-Dûr, in what is known as “Chinatown” here but mostly consists of Mordorian shops and restaurants with Chinese signs, I ate at something with a name like “Sapphire Wednesday”. It was a bizarre experience. I *think* that’s what Mordorians call macaroni and cheese, but I still prefer Kraft dinner to that, I think. Was pretty expensive too, could have eaten at one of the very few Chinese restaurants in Gorgorothin Chinatown.

  10. Mandos

    Oh, I forgot I ate at a “restaurant” called something like “Capsicum’s” in an airport near the sea of Nurn. I ordered the nachos. They weren’t terrible.

    There was a Mexican restaurant in an airport in a city near that, though, that served pretty good tacos to this non-Texan-non-Mexican palate.

  11. Diana Blaine

    Speaking of Carol Adams, I could not believe my eyes when this asinine commerical rolled that shows Dr 90210 pressuring his “patient” to get larger breasts and it turns out he’s talking to a chicken. I wrote her and brought it to her attention so she can use it in her latest show.

    Particularly fun is the pathetic conservative response to my comments. The haters at my swanky private university have discovered my website and they’re trying to shut it down by attacking me in every way they can (which truth be told ain’t much and is good for laughs):

    http://www.dianablaine.com/2006/05/calgon_take_me_away.html

  12. Kaka Mak

    Wait’ll you see the new Burger King ad. Guys singing how they don’t want “chick food” but some meat-packed shitty burger instead.

  13. Mandos

    There was an ad for the Canadian A&W, though, that had a pair of women eating bland diet food and trying to convince themselves how wonderful it was, and then falling silent and salivating as they saw some guy eating an A&W burger.

    So on occasion they do try to sell to women.

  14. Cass

    I have to agree with Kate that we should take the Darwinian view on this. Ever read up on the FDA’s inspection regimen for mad cow disease?

  15. Twisty

    But Mandos, the message isn’t intended to sell to women. It’s intended to show how “women’s food” is lame. Because it was a guy eating the fatburger, right? It’s basically the same as the Friday’s scenario.

  16. Mandos

    That’s a part of it, but it does have the difference in that it says that women can/should like something that men like, whereas the Friday’s commercial simply implicity assumes that only one kind of food is associated with women.

    I mean, contrast this to say, a McDonald’s ad with thin women running towards their line of salads (also happened in Canada). Women = salad?

  17. thebewilderness

    CTO,
    Thank you for the link. Priceless.

  18. Sara

    I love the end of the long version of this commercial where an older lady at another table sponaneously lifts a piece of meat, brandishes it at her patently unthreatening-looking older male dining companion’s face and yells, “Beef!” only to hear a supportive echoing cheer from our table of idiots across the restaurant. It’s surreal.

    Of course, they would never have had a table full of “hot” chicks mimicking the idiotic young men and being cheered by them for doing so. No. It’s only okay for women to act like stupid young men when they’re what the stupid young men would perceive as post-sexual.

    Like Amanda, who points out that this kind of crap actually insults the consumer to his face, I am always perplexed that people actually buy into definitions of their own gender as depicted in paid advertising for things like chain restaurants. What people swallow from paid fashion advertisements no longer surprises me. A lot of that is about the way vanity and self-doubt knit themselves together into all kinds of hard little knots in our psyches. But when the product being sold is not about a person’s outer appearance and yet the advertiser makes it about that, it’s just so transparently manipulative. Yet it persists because it works, and it works because lots and lots of consumers do swallow all the sweeping cultural allegations right along with the advertiser’s 30-second sales pitch without even noticing or questioning.

    These generalizations are so universally acceptable (for reasons I don’t quite get, but that’s how it is) that staunchly vegetarian women I know who wanted to raise their families as vegetarians but married omnivorous men openly worried that their baby sons would have to be fed meat. Two have ultimately given in to this idea. The idea they have swallowed is that men need meat, whereas women can get along without it. They are more inclined to believe this because they are vegetarians but their husbands aren’t. And goodness knows, their husbands wouldn’t eat meat if they didn’t need it, right?

    In fact, many nutritionists believe that some people need meat and some people don’t — which may or may not be true; I really don’t know — but it doesn’t break along gender lines. According to what I’ve read and heard from the lips of people more knowledgeable than myself, it has more to do with metabolism, heredity, and stuff like that. But two of these women had daughters first, and were raising them successfully on vegetarian breast milk diets. Then they each had a son and ended up adding meat and fish to both children’s diet before each son was a year old.

    This bothers me in a couple of ways. You can probably guess what those ways might be.

  19. Sara

    (Uh, there’s supposed to be a plus sign between the word “vegetarian” and the word “breast” in the second-to-last paragraph, above, but Twisty’s grammar/punctuation filters erased it. Sorry. Next time I’ll spell it out.)

  20. Burrow Klown

    Well they can eat nothing but meat until their hearts explode for all I care. Leave me the yummy vegetables. (Since I dont eat animals)

  21. jami

    oof. i blurtingly impugned the manliness of my very nice, somewhat vegetarian boss a few weeks back. i said that i thought a lot of people think meat is gross, and that my boyfriend would be a vegetarian, but he “wants to be a man.”

    now, the intended target of that statement was my boyfriend’s silly machismo, but my boss seemed a bit wounded about it, saying that i probably like my boy better for his manly pretenses.

    jeez, i hope not.

  22. MzNicky

    Bottom line: Meat is disgusting and vile. Otherwise, why would it be wielded as a signifier of machismo? I rest my vegetarian case.

    Besides which, eating flesh is way bad karma. It just is, that’s all there is to it.

  23. Frumious B

    Twisty: Clearly you are of way above average intelligence. So why are you buying homeopathic crapola?

  24. Twisty

    Actually, my radiologist, a tidy German fella, prescribed it. It’s kinda like aloe, and it takes the heat out, for real. Nobody was more surprised than I was. Calendula gel. Try it on your next sunburn. Really.

  25. kathy a

    aloe was pretty wonderful when i had a burn, and for other skin stuff. thanks for the tip, twisty. i’m passing it along to my sister-in-law, who has some lingering problems from her radiation.

  26. giraffefairie

    What sickens me the most is the song they used in the BK commercial is that it is a spoof of I am Woman, by Helen Reddy.

  27. scratchy888

    This all is too wierd. I’m always eating a big steak or a big dead fish, compared to Mike’s demure vegetarian pizza or summat. Normally, too, I’m the only one eating.

  28. freeman

    Living in Germany, I haven’t seen either of these commercials, and suppose I should be glad. But it does bring to mind an ad for Ball-Park I saw several years ago that on some level was just as bad. It involved a rather burly ex-football player type standing outside a women’s changing room in some anonymous department-store setting. The man was clad in head-to-toe yuppie attire (pastel polo shirt, Dockers), and looking utterly demoralized as he held his wife’s purse, with said wife charging into the dressing room with an armload of clothing. The kicker here was the large, bold-print subtitle which read, in caps: “AT LEAST YOU CAN EAT LIKE A MAN,” followed by the Ball-Park logo.

    Now, blatant sexist connotations aside, I’ll be honest: I found the ad kind of funny. I found it funny because A) I dislike hot dogs, and B)I am very much that guy. It’s called being married. You accompany your spouse to do things that necessarily aren’t your cup of tea, because you’re being a supportive partner. And yes, I have held the purse. Willingly. And I’m okay with that, so I was able to laugh. However, judging from the two ads mentioned above, it seems like the only thing being encouraged or commented upon is male group-think/stereotypical desire to eat that which must first be killed. So though I’ve never seen these two ads, I can definitely see how they’d be far more offensive.

    I would think any reasonable man should have cause to be offended by thess ad, if only because of the downright insulting assumptions that the pieces infer upon the male viewer.

  29. TheGlimmering

    So last week I made the mistake of mentioning the recent rash of smart guy bashing commercials (Axe, the meat ads, certain energy drinks…) at our weekly science fiction dinner party. We had a few laughs, joked around that the sort of people who buy into this will weed themselves from the gene pool, a good time was had by all before we realized my father was being dead silent through the discussion. Second mistake was asking him what was up. According to him, we spent the last half hour bashing men, and the Burger King commercials with the “King” were much more insulting to men than the meat commercials. Trying to be conciliatory, we asked why they were insulting to men: because they’re gay. There you have it, I’ve found the demographic these folks are targeting and it is my father. (Talk about an awkward moment at the dinner table…)

  30. Amber

    Anyone see the Burger King commercial during the Super Bowl? It was kind of reminiscent of 1920s bathing-capped synchronized swimmers, but instead of bathing suits, the women are each dressed as a burger topping. There’s a cheese slice, a tomato, an onion, etc. They all dive onto the bun woman, and at the end, the creepy ass king figure is leering at the camera with his toothy grin. Male consumers are encouraged to, quite literally, CONSUME women. I never saw this discussed on the blogs, and this seemed the appropriate place to bring it up.

    The couple people I mentioned this to reminded me that Burger King just has weird ass commercials, and that I’m reading too much into it, but I already know that women=meat. They’re not getting this one past me.

  31. kreepyk

    You know, when I was about 12 I found “Pulling Our Own Strings” a compendium of 70s feminist humor. These commercials sound like a ultra-sexist spoof from that book. Ugh!

  32. Sylvanite

    TGI Friday’s used to serve some edible food. They used to have a really nice fruit bowl they served for brunch on Sundays, and the dinner entrees used to be okay. Now, the food served there is just vile. What’s with all the Jack Daniels crap? Other chain restaurants that are on my banned list include Ruby Tuesdays and Applebee’s. Ugh! My stomach is turning just thinking about them.

  1. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Those “Manly Meat” Commercials … and Animal Rights

    [...] Update 2: Twisty did a little blaming on this subject as well, noting: …Unsurprisingly, the aforementioned [T.G.I. Fridays] commercial was asinine beyond belief: four dudely young morons boo-yah over some disgusting meat entree (served, no doubt, on a bed of Velveeta and Jack Daniels). Meat, meat, meat, and then one guy tries to boo-yah a sprig of broccoli, whereupon the other three basically call him a faggot until he waggles a sausage in the air, reaffirming the meatly phallocentricity of the group. Meat = dick, vegetables = pussy, nonconformity and gender ambiguity weaken male cohesion, etc. [...]

  2. Right Wing Nation » Blog Archive » Spoke Too Soon

    [...] I said that it didn’t get any stupider than this. Well, I was wrong. This is stupider. [...]

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