Arby’s Cherry Pie Commerial

I know you’ll know what I think about this ad without me having to say much at all:

1) Warrant’s Cherry Pie is a yucky song. Catchy? Sure. But I really don’t dig the innuendo and never have.

2) Look, hot woman hitting on some greasy schlub of a guy. We’ve never seen that before. (Incidentally, why is According to Jim still on the air?) If this isn’t male gaze in action, I need a better definition.

3) Not the most harmful thing in the world, it’s just that we’re inundated with SO MANY of these kinds of ads that compiled together it’s a bit more of an issue. Generally speaking.

4) Oh, Arby’s. You are getting as annoying as Burger King, and I didn’t think that was possible.

What do you think of this ad, from a feminist perspective?

Comments

  1. Pocket Nerd says

    “Hot woman hits on greasy schlub” isn’t all that shocking to most viewers. Remember, we’re told again and again that men can be attractive in a variety of ways—some externally obvious, some not. Maybe Mr. Can’t-Eat-Without-Spilling-Food-On-His-Shirt is a really charming guy, smart, funny, and sensitive, so we can forgive the open-mouth chewing and neckbeard.

    This offer is emphatically not valid for women. Remember, a woman’s value as a human being is determined entirely by her attractiveness to the opposite sex. Anybody who would suggest otherwise is obviously a FemiNazi whose mere existence oppresses and degrades both Men and Masculinity.

    Look at movies and television for the gold standard: There are lots of stories about The Underestimated Guy Who Gets The Girl by proving there’s more to him than his physical appearance, but movies about The Underestimated Girl Getting The Guy almost invariably include a sequence of her prettying herself up— “oh, look, sweetie, you really are beautiful if you just take the trouble!” (“This message brought to you by Maybelline. ‘Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe she’s an ugly cow just barely smart enough to use Maybelline.'”)

  2. sbg says

    Ah, I love your eloquence.

    I cannot adequately express how annoying I find the hot-woman-with-schlubby-man crap and how the reverse is unlikely in my lifetime to ever be shown as acceptable. I doubt any advertiser would dream of a woman sitting on that bench eating a greasy burger in an un-dainty fashion and having Mr. Hottie approaching her. Despite the fact this non-greasy burger alternative is, according to all we’ve learned socially, the perfect fast foodstuff to advertise to women. ::rolls eyes::

    Women aren’t allowed to participate in this fantasy, because women aren’t allowed to be fat, even a little unkempt, or boorish in the slightest and still be considered an attractive mate.

    And don’t get me started on the Ugly Duckling stories in which all a woman really needs is to lose the glasses and pluck her eyebrows to reveal she was always a physical hottie in camouflage.

  3. Patrick J McGraw says

    And don’t get me started on the Ugly Duckling stories in which all a woman really needs is to lose the glasses and pluck her eyebrows to reveal she was always a physical hottie in camouflage.

    For all its typical problems, I will at least give the film She’s All That this: they never pretended that Rachel Leigh Cook wasn’t beautiful, just anti-social. Didn’t stop them from a “glamming up” sequence, though.

  4. Fat Chuuby Guy says

    Look Im a greasy schlub and neveeeer has a hot babe approched me within so much as a barge poles distance………..Reality real sux dont it :rolleyes:

  5. MaggieCat says

    (Incidentally, why is According to Jim still on the air?)

    Since I can’t resist taking a shot, any shot, no matter how cheap, at this one (8 YEARS? That thing’s been on for 8 years?!) : because someone at ABC sold their soul. The same way that Arli$$ somehow ran for 7 seasons. (Sandra Oh and Michael Boatman are awesome, but nobody’s awesome enough to justify that.)

  6. says

    It may not be the most harmful thing in the world, *but* it really reinforces the idea that (to rephrase PocketNerd) men can be valuable in several ways, and women only in one. Which is really dehumanizing.

    I mean, look at the men of Congress. That’s one of the ugliest collections of men on this earth, and also one of the most powerful. Many of them are fat. Many of them have hair that looks like they cut it themselves with no concept of anything but length – cowlicks everywhere, unflattering comb-overs from the depths of hell, etc. Big bald spots they’re strangely not ashamed of. Gross – if they were women, we wouldn’t employ them to work the cash register at Piggly Wiggly! We’d stick ‘em in the stock room, where they can’t make the public vomit!

    Now look at the women of Congress. All nicely groomed and well-dressed, some maybe a bit plump but never reminiscent of Jabba the Hutt.

    Now think Rush Limbaugh proudly referring to himself as Jabba the Hutt. Being fat and ugly is sometimes Mr. Honky’s way of reminding everyone else “I’m hot even when I’m not. You’re nothing unless you’re hot, no matter what else you are.” At least in some cases, I would argue it is an act of hostile aggression, not an inadvertent beauty standard.

    [ETA: my use of nasty language and equating fat, bald and other physical traits with grossness was intended as a facetious mockery of the hateful language and thinking employed by people like Rush Limbaugh.]

  7. sbg says

    Since I can’t resist taking a shot, any shot, no matter how cheap, at this one (8 YEARS? That thing’s been on for 8 years?!) : because someone at ABC sold their soul. The same way that Arli$$ somehow ran for 7 seasons. (Sandra Oh and Michael Boatman are awesome, but nobody’s awesome enough to justify that.)

    I watched in horrified fascination the other week when Jim managed to blame his idiotic, boorish behavior solely on his wife. “If you hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have done this…”

    Jesus on a pogo stick, whyyyyyyy is that show still on the air?????

  8. sbg says

    Look Im a greasy schlub and neveeeer has a hot babe approched me within so much as a barge poles distance………..Reality real sux dont it :rolleyes:

    And yet it happens on TV all the time, whereas socially unpretty women are usually just subject to ridicule.

  9. sbg says

    Now think Rush Limbaugh proudly referring to himself as Jabba the Hutt. Being fat and ugly is sometimes Mr. Honky’s way of reminding everyone else “I’m hot even when I’m not. You’re nothing unless you’re hot, no matter what else you are.” At least in some cases, I would argue it is an act of hostile aggression, not an inadvertent beauty standard.

    Oh, yes, I can’t disagree with this. The “be pretty for me, or you’re useless/invisible” message is definitely hostile and dehumanizing.

    *shudders* Rush Limbaugh. He’d be an ugly person even if he were the most good-looking man on the planet.

  10. DragonLadyK says

    Look at movies and television for the gold standard: There are lots of stories about The Underestimated Guy Who Gets The Girl by proving there’s more to him than his physical appearance [...] This offer is emphatically not valid for women.

    This, right there, is why I wanted Sam/Daniel for SG-1 instead of Sam/Jack. Daniel totally rocked Sam’s geeky ways, listening attentively to her excited explanations and asking auxilliary questions, while Jack kept telling her to shut up and go fishing because her work wasn’t “fun” (the Hell physics isn’t fun). Daniel was also her age, not her boss, and an utter babe.

    But no, Sam the genius hottie had to pine after the “excentric” “old coot” who treated her badly. *fumes*

    My point is that this commercial is the tip of the proverbial iceberg — this attitude is everywhere.

    I doubt any advertiser would dream of a woman sitting on that bench eating a greasy burger in an un-dainty fashion and having Mr. Hottie approaching her.

    sbg, you need to watch Shallow Hal. I love that movie: the protagonist is hypnotized into seeing inner beauty as outer beauty. I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it, but I’m very certain you’ll enjoy it: at one point Hal makes this speech about how most girls will only eat a tiny salad and that he’s impressed Rosemary can pack away food like a guy.

    DragonLady

  11. ACW says

    Hey, I’m looking at the silver lining – at least in this ad, the guy is appropriately astonished because he knows he’s a greasy schlub.
    As far as equality in advertising… I’d be happy if they brought back the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter style of ads… but even then, I don’t recall the women being unattractive, and exactly whose idea was it to cast Fabio as the ideal man?
    Blah. Seriously? This is why I don’t watch a lot of television, seldom watch commercials, and limit my kids to recorded shows/movies (or, heaven forbid, books). The irritating thing is that I often feel that I’m *just one person* and while I can limit the exposure in this household, I can’t limit it for others… and a constant barrage of this crap influences our whole society…. which my children will inherit. Grrr.

  12. says

    Are you kidding me? This has got nothing on Padma Lakshmi scarfing down a Carl’s Jr. My pal Deb on the Rocks (dot com) and I wrote about that brilliant piece of “women get hot in close proximity to meat” marketing.

    Seriously, dude only got a number? She didn’t even lick the juice off his fingers?! She wasn’t reduced to animalistic behavior?! She was able to calmly drive away, obeying traffic laws?! Arby’s is clearly an inferior piece of meat.

  13. sbg says

    And I thank my lucky stars that I live in an area which has no Carl’s Jr. or the ads that come with that chain. :)

  14. FM says

    I actually knew someone who was friends with the man who founded Carl’s Jr. and she said that he was not at all happy about the sexism in the ads, but he didn’t have the power to influence what ads came out. It just goes to show how difficult it is to change things, when the guy who owns the company doesn’t even get a say.

  15. Charles RB says

    “while Jack kept telling her to shut up and go fishing because her work wasn’t “fun””

    Well, who isn´t turned on by having their chosen career and interests denigrated & being told to follow someone else´s?

    (Doctor Who: The Web Of Fear had the nice exchange “How´d a pretty girl like you end up being a scientist?” “*thin smile* Well, when I was a little girl I decided I´d like to be a scientist. So I became a scientist.” And this is the 60´s, for fuck´s sake.)

  16. William says

    I dunno. I always liked that song. But then, I’ve always liked hair metal. Yes, the songs can be demeaning, sexist, and sometimes overly aggressive. On the other hand, they pump me up and make me feel better about my own life and whatnot. I’d never actually talk or treat a woman that way. I’m far too polite for that. But I do think it’s a problem if we, as a society, think of women in those terms, even on a subconscious level. That’s why I like this site so much. It reminds me of my own blindness and encourages greater awareness.

  17. A Very Bad Girl says

    My one question is: Where is her sandwich?

    Oh, stupid me, I forgot; women don’t eat….. food. We all live off of magical pink faerie dust. ::eyeroll::

    No problem with the song, really. I always liked it, and I can think of far worse things for the vagina to be compared to (namely, that ever-so-popular “fish” association ).

  18. William says

    Oh I agree. She definitely needs a sandwich.

    Maybe it’s the naive, innocent optimist in me, but I always took “cherry pie” to be a reference to the woman as a whole. Like how lovers call each other “muffin” or “cupcake.”

    But then, I know enough about literary criticism to realize that interpretation may not stand up.

  19. A Very Bad Girl says

    William:

    Did you ever actually see the Cherry Pie video?
    At one point, they show a slice of pie falling into Bobbie Brown’s lap… right over her crotch. And, as I’m sure you know, men have been using this term for quite a long time to describe the vagina.

    I seriously doubt you’re that naive. I think you’re more knowledgeable than you’re putting on. There is a certain type of person who feigns ignorance of various sexual topics, so that they may “get off” on reading/hearing the detailed explanation that is provided to them.

  20. says

    AVBG, let’s not get accusatory. Remember that our commenters come from various cultures and backgrounds, not to mention generations, which makes it hard to estimate just how “naive” anyone might be here.

    That said, I thought he was being a tad facetious with the “naive” remark – sort of an “if only!” aside, followed by the remark about knowing better than to assume that’s true due to his knowledge of literary criticism.

  21. sbg says

    Yeah, considering I only this past year learned that whole urban legend about green M&Ms and their apparent aphrodisiac qualities…it is possible for someone to genuinely not get what others believe to be a widely-known thing.

  22. says

    Yeah: I was friends with a girl in high school who’d scarf all the green M&Ms out of a bag before anyone else could have a shot at them. It wasn’t because we *wanted* them. It was the weirdness of her not sharing just because of a stupid …I don’t know what you’d call it. Not a rumor. Urban legend? High School idiocy? (and that was in the early 80s, btw)

  23. A Very Bad Girl says

    Remember that our commenters come from various cultures and backgrounds, not to mention generations

    I think it’s pretty safe to assume he is:

    1. White
    2. American
    3. 30 – 40 years old

    This is the typical demographic of hair metal fans (I am one myself, after all ;) ). I have yet to meet anyone of any culture other than American (white) who fancied hair metal*. Oh, and there is no way he is of a younger generation; most of today’s teens & twenty-somethings think that this type of music is utter garbage.

    *Back in the day, it was popular with many non-americans, but I don’t think that really rings true anymore. There are always exceptions to that rule, of course, but they’re few & far between.

    PS I’ll wager $10.00 that Trick or Treat is one of William’s favorite movies. :D

  24. says

    Okey-dokey, looks like my earlier comment was too subtle. As the administrator, I am instructing you not to accuse others of lying about their own thoughts. It’s never ever helpful because there’s no way to prove either side.

  25. A Very Bad Girl says

    Don’t get mad at me. I’m just saying that head-bangers can smell each other a mile away.

  26. says

    I’m not “mad at you.” I’m the boss here because I pay for the bandwidth you’re wasting to spew crap that’s against the rules, and I’m telling you how it is. We run a very strict comment policy here, and I enforce it the same with everybody. You don’t seem to respect my authority, so your worries have come true: welcome to the moderation queue. All your comments from now on will be reviewed by me (note that, other admins) before appearing in threads. Enjoy.

    You need to learn some respect for women in charge.

  27. Khurrum says

    I don’t think this ad was ever intended to have any deep meaning. I think its just supposed to be funny, from the initial idea of a hot woman going after the greasy schlub, to him screwing the opportunity by being a greasy schlub :P

    As for women and beauty – women care about it as much as men. I personally don’t like seeing women wear makeup and hide what they really look like, but most women feel uncomfortable having not prettified themselves somewhat.

    Where I’m not fully sure how successful an unkempt woman would be, since I think both men and women would automatically have a lower opinion of her, I think women in congress looking better than the men has more to do with those women wanting to and making the choice to look better than the men, because they themselves care more about what they look like.

  28. Khurrum says

    @A Very Bad Girl: Where it’s true that you can pretend innocence to have a person explain and get uncomfortable – for the amusement value… Sometimes sex really isn’t on your mind and you’re not looking for sexual meanings. I admit that when I heard that song, I didn’t really think too much about the cherry part, and I still think that cherry pie (even if the word cherry adds to the meaning), is just a way of saying that he finds the woman as a whole(physically :P) to be something appealing.

    I admit I wouldn’t consider using the term cherry pie for a woman who’s mind I was attracted to.

  29. says

    Khurrum, the myth that it’s really women who pressure women into worrying about our looks has been perpetuated by what I call “man-apologists” – people who assume if women aren’t blamed, then men will be blamed, so they hasten to find a way to blame women.

    I don’t think there’s much in this world that can be blamed on just one gender or the other. All our ancestors are partly responsible for how the world has come to be, and we now all share responsibility for the present and future.

    That said, I will just say: I don’t really care about my looks or what people think of them, but I do still feel the pressure to care. That pressure comes from both women and men. There are plenty of people in both genders who make it clear to me that my looks aren’t good enough, and there are plenty in both genders who wouldn’t notice let alone care if I showed up one day with a green mohawk.

    But at least the female tradition is rooted in some affection: back when women had to secure husbands in order to get housed and fed, women tried to help girls they cared about look “pretty” so they could secure a husband. Women who bug me about my looks are usually strangely well-intentioned – they can’t understand how I function without a man, and their idea of friendship is to help me secure one, and they are utterly without a script when I explain I don’t want a man who wants me for my looks – but men who think I should look better in order to please them are just narcissistic entitlement assholes.

  30. MaggieCat says

    I like to think that some of the executives were as successful at ignoring its existence as I was most of the time, and were horrified to discover recently that they forgot to cancel it ages back.

    Well the mental picture made me giggle at least. Which is more than the show ever did.

  31. says

    I didn’t start liking “Cherry Pie” until I saw an episode of King of the Hill where Nancy Hicks-Gribble’s phone plays this song upon receiving a call from one John Redcorn. They even show the little picture of him that shows up on her phone where he’s lying suggestively with his head propped on his hand. So now I just kinda giggle at it.

    And my sister fully expects her male partner to choreograph a dance sequence to this tune at her commitment ceremony.

    On the topic of the commercial…I can’t get over the way the female actor walks. She just looks kinda…sickly or something. I don’t know why her shoulders are doing that.

  32. meerkat says

    As a fat woman I’m a bit uncomfortable with some of these negative descriptions of fat men. Aside from how I don’t have a bald spot to be properly ashamed of, I am just as disgusting as they are.

  33. says

    Meerkat, my intention was to appropriate the cruel language of people like Limbaugh and apply it to them. I was being facetious. Sorry if that didn’t come across clearly.

    I’m considered fat, too. While doctors have never used the language of disgust, all but three of the ones I’ve had managed to make it clearer than anyone how disgusted they are when someone who’s a size 10 instead of 0 dares to walk right into their office like a human being and ask for, like, actual health care.

  34. Pocket Nerd says

    Huh. That’s interesting, Jennifer, because I too am overweight, but doctors usually talk to me about it with a wry grin and a “yeah, whaddayagunna do, I’m too busy to work out too” attitude. This is probably another example of how neglecting one’s appearance is a trivial peccadillo for a man but a grievous personal failing for a woman.

    That said, don’t put up with arrogant doctors. While I respect the effort and education required to become a doctor, the job is fundamentally a service profession and should be treated as such. If your car mechanic is a jackass, you find a new mechanic; the same standard standard should apply to a doctor.

  35. sbg says

    I think the weight/doctor thing is really luck of the draw, but it disturbs me that anyone should be met with derision by a health care professional. You are there for a service, not a judgement.

    I’ve never had a doctor out-and-out tell me I’m fat or that I should lose weight. My last visit, I nearly fell off the scale because I couldn’t believe the number it was flashing at me – any discussion about weight in the subsequent was started by me. Had I not mentioned being floored by it, she would not have said boo.

    I don’t consider myself fat even though I’m well above “normal range” (whatever that means) for my height, but the number was still a shock and almost instantly I started feeling fat. I hate that reaction, damnit.

    Heh, this is getting a bit off topic. As for the commercial, I used the word schlubby for a reason and it had less to do with the guy’s weight and more to do with him rubbing his greasy fingers on his shirt instead of a freaking napkin. Who does that? Schlubs.

  36. says

    PocketNerd, the thing is I have been dieting almost continuously since age 11, counting calories all that time, and much of that time I was working out more than enough to keep 90% of people very slim. So I wasn’t neglecting my appearance at all. The problem is, I don’t burn fat, I just gain muscle, and doctors don’t distinguish between the two, so they just my size and assume I’m lying when I say my average calorie intake is only 1400 calories a day, and has been since childhood. Additionally, weight was an issue with me because I was diagnosed with PCOS at a young age, and until recently doctors thought the condition was caused by being so much as 5 pounds overweight (in the 80s, the chart weights were MUCH lower than now, too). Recently they’ve discovered that PCOS can cause explosive weight gain for some women, but just being a few pounds overweight does not cause the disorder, and much more research is required. I’ve got two doctors now who don’t say a word about my weight, and are aware of this stuff. But I recently saw an endocrinologist who advised me to “lose a few pounds” and when I told her my dieting/exercise history and asked that she tell me precisely how to lose weight, just sighed, looked disgusted and said, “Fine, just don’t gain anymore.” Well, if I followed her directions and got back into working out, I knew I’d gain 12 pounds of muscle. So I started working out (hey, 12 pounds of muscle’s good, no matter how it makes me look!) and dropped her like a hotcake.

    Yes, we are getting off-topic. I just wanted to respond to Meerkat’s concerns, and unfortunately this tends to be a pretty fascinating topic.

    I will add this to get back on topic: I don’t personally feel that being un-skinny makes anyone look schlubby. Plenty of un-skinny people take obvious care with their appearance and always look well-groomed and attractive (except to those who have absorbed the idea that not being a size 0 = gross!). I think this guy is supposed to look to us like someone who makes no effort on his appearance. It’s kind of unfortunate they chose an un-skinny person for the role, because there are plenty of slim men who wouldn’t look like they should be able to get attention from a woman our culture considers gorgeous.

  37. Pocket Nerd says

    Gee, look at that, once again the male-dominated medical industry places the blame for women’s health concerns squarely on women. This from the people who brought you clitoridectomies to cure “feminine hysteria” and insisted that using anesthetics to ease the pain of childbirth was sinful.

  38. meerkat says

    Okay, I did think you meant to imply that fat is an element of ugly when you elaborated on how ugly the congressmen were by saying they were fat and had bad haircuts and bald spots. It can be hard to catch sarcastic mock-fat-phobia when most people would be saying that without the tiniest hint of sarcasm.

  39. says

    Yes, Meerkat, and I am sincerely sorry I didn’t make it clear (but should have anticipated it, knowing sarcasm/facetiousness are always hobbled by internet communication). I will also edit the comment to explain that. Thanks again for pointing it out.

  40. Dan says

    You know, I think role-reversing this kind of ad could be a hugely successful campaign, simply because it would stand out so much and be so memorable to the general viewing public.

    “WTF? AN ATTRACTIVE MAN FAWNING OVER AN UNATTRACTIVE WOMAN??”

  41. William says

    No, I’m only 25. Never seen Trick or Treat. Never heard of it either. Believe it or not, I only realized I loved hair metal while in college. Mostly because I attended a very homogeneous college in South Carolina, and hair metal gave me the affirmation I needed to get over any of the loneliness or depression I felt. I had a show on the college radio station, and I’d just play Monster Ballads and 80s music. Anything to inject some energy, some life into a very vanilla, somewhat boring social scene.

    I know I can seem kind of odd at times. I got diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 20, and that’s probably a big part of why it took me so long to learn sexual slang/jargon. Hell, I’d usually just ask someone why people were laughing at a few innocuous words that I choose not to repeat at this time, but I could never get a straight answer.

    Anyway, that’s all I got to say about that. Hope you’re all doing well.

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