Burger King Says Men are Adulterers?

Well sort of. The latest ad I’ve seen from the delightful studio of Burger King is for the so-called “polygameat” – a burger made up of more than one kind of meat – the ad can be seen here.

In an ordinary village, a mob is hounding a man whom they accuse of committing “polygameat” – the mob is mostly made up of women (and of course, they are the only ones to actually speak about how outraged they are at this); they are wielding signs saying things like “Stop the meat beast.” A journalist and cameraman are reporting on the furore: they film the man leaving his house, protectively cradling the polygameat burger, until proclaiming that he’s a “man” and can’t be “tied to just one meat,” that it’s “perfectly natural,” that a woman’s bloke probably “fancies a bit of it.” In the end, the journalist asks whether it should be banned or lunch (before looking at the burger, his watch, and making a “let’s go” motion to the cameraman).

It’s pretty damn obvious we’re being invited to make the comparison between polygameat and polygamy. So is Burger King comparing its male customers to polygamists – or bigamists, philanderers, adulterers, or mansluts? Well not really: the line of the ad is that men can’t be expected to be faithful to just one meat type, just as they can’t be expected to be faithful to just one woman. It’s not condemning them, it’s lamenting the unfair burden heaped upon them. What it *is* doing of course is comparing women with meat.

Not in so many words of course; it maintains just enough deniability to satisfy those who want to laugh at such a comparison while pretending not to (or try the “you’re the sexist one for noticing” line). But the gendered nature of the ad, the deliberately similar name, the dialogue evocative of cheater’s justifications – there’s no room for doubt there – men are being pitied for being thought cheaters, and women are being called meat. Again.


  1. says

    First of all, am I the only one who thinks the idea of a burger with multiple kinds of meat sounds kind of disgusting? I mean, I can stand by a bacon burger, but anything more than that I’m out. That said, I totally agree that the gendered tones of this ad are completely insidious. However, sadly typical…

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. SunlessNick says

    Fourthwave: I kinda agree, it doesn’t sound like a good product. But as Jennifer has often pointed out, this sort of advertising often goes hand in hand with a poor product.

    P.S. Hey, I wrote that!

  3. ACW says

    First off, I just have to say that as you were describing the commercial, my line of thought followed yours to a ‘T’. It was kind of creepy several times to read the next line and have it echo my sentiments.

    This commercial is wrong on so many levels. I am equally offended on behalf of men and women.

  4. sbg says

    I have hated all of the new BK ads – the men cheating on beef with chicken. The man is found in a motel room, at a cliched lover’s lane kind of spot, etc and being found out by…a cow. Okay, okay, a steer? I don’t know. Whichever way the animal falls, the “woman”* in the relationship is a giant, angry animal and that is not cool.

    *Yes, I know I’m being heteronormative. Make the giant, angry animal a same sex partner, and it’s still bloody offensive.

    I haven’t had the brainspace to do any kind of posting lately, but I was working up to some kind of post on the first batch of BK commercials. 😉

    I haven’t seen this particular ad, and I hope I never do.

    BK, it seems, will never learn. (Though the ones which have the King putting money in people’s (men’s) pockets instead of taking it out are harmless enough.)

  5. Izzy says

    Ugh. And of course, the women are angry and jealous, because that’s what women are, right? Because it’s impossible for a woman to want more than one…meat…or to get restless in a monogamous relationship. And if she does, she’s clearly a Bad Person, unlike the guys, who Just Can’t Help It.

    This has been a bad week for me, feminist-anger-wise; I was already pissed about Time’s “What Do Women Want” cover (in red lipstick, yet) and now I kind of want to crack some skulls.

  6. sbg says

    Izzy, I always go with defenestration fantasies, myself. 😉

    In my head, I’ve tossed at least four of my coworkers out of my window this week alone. Hee hee.

    Because it’s impossible for a woman to want more than one…meat…or to get restless in a monogamous relationship. And if she does, she’s clearly a Bad Person, unlike the guys, who Just Can’t Help It.

    It’s the whore v. player debate at its lowest.

  7. says

    As a contrast, y’all did see the ad for pipettes targeted at female scientists who like to partay, right? The one that on the overt, wink, snicker level promises that if you buy their product beautiful blond ‘babes’ will appear and shower you with affection for drinking this brand of beer a multiethnic harem of hunky lab assistants will spirit you away to the beach and fulfill your every wish, and on the not so subtexty level, that you will have time and energy left over after work to indulge yourself in whatever way you please.

    It’s kind of jawdropping to realize that yes, there are commercials being made that reverse the trope of “woman for male gaze,” “our free time for our Man’s service and pleasure,” even if they are in rather a niche market. (I’ve noticed that the ads in computer magazines have become a lot more even in terms of race and gender than they used to be, though still stacked towards StraightWhiteDude as target market.)

  8. Scarlett says

    I first saw this ad when I was in Poland and remember thinking it looked offensive without even knowing what they were saying. Then I saw it in Ireland and… blech. I don’t know if I’m more offended about the adultery theme or the fact it targets men, like women don’t like meat. (I have been known for chowing down massive steaks that no-one in my family, tank of a brother included, could finish.)

  9. Izzy says

    sbg: Yep. It’s one of the reasons that, while most “generic” female-targeted insults (“bitch” etc.) don’t really push my personal buttons, I develop an instant and profound loathing for anyone who uses the word “slut” in a negative fashion.

    bellatrys: I totally want to see that. Because while I don’t, in theory, mind the “this product will get you lots of no-strings sex with attractive members of the gender you fancy” message, the disproportionate extent to which most of such ads are targeted at straight men bugs big time.

  10. SunlessNick says

    I don’t know if I’m more offended about the adultery theme or the fact it targets men, like women don’t like meat.

    That’s a problem with all Burger King’s ads – they’ve firmly designated eating meat as a man thing – and when they’re not equating that meat with women, they’re equating eating it with somehow defeating women.

  11. says

    Nick, that seems to be a reflex among male chauvinists – to consider “man” to be “the polar opposite, ie as far away from as possible, of woman” and to regard any shared taste in any regard as dangerously full of girl-cooties and gay-making. I know men who agonize over whether or not teal is too unmasculine a color, whether drinking “girlie drinks” like cocktails will make them gay, or driving a VW bug, and so do and drink and wear all kinds of things they don’t like, in order to quell this inner anxiety over their Brittle Masculinity Syndrome…

    (Here’s another example: until around the 1970s, it was assumed that the target audience for books about horses and kids with horses were going to be boys. (eg “Billy and Blaze” and other kids’ books I have from the ’50s and ’60s, Hollywood Cowboy culture.) Horses were exclusively manly, in pop culture, until women started competing seriously and winning, in equestrian events of all kinds, and girls started reading and fan-appropriating the Black Stallion books no matter the intended audience. Now horses have ‘girl cooties’…)

  12. says

    Oh, yes, I’ve even heard people very seriously and earnestly explain that girls inherently like horses because riding them reminds them of sex (even when the girls have never ridden nor discovered masturbation yet, apparently that awareness is somehow hard-wired in there). They’re not real clear on details if you press them, it’s just something about girls and spread legs. /eye roll

  13. SunlessNick says

    A bit like how homosexual people are accused of stealing the word gay, I suppose.

    I wonder if these frantic attempts to redefine themselves away from interests perceived as female is why some MRA’s feel besieged and marginalised.

  14. says

    Jennifer – and the very same people will sometimes turn around and say that “girls are scared of snakes” [sic] “because snakes remind them of sex” even if said girls are too young to be aware of the artistic and folkloric association between penises and snakes – because, you know, all women don’t REALLY want sex and are scared of it and just “give it up” because we want babies and houses and jewelry…

    It’s amazing how one head can contain so many contradictory beliefs without exploding, isn’t it?

    (Doubleplusgood when the man making this assertion is himself petrified of snakes, like a large percentage of primates are, human and otherwise, regardless of sex or sexual orientation!)

  15. says

    I wonder if these frantic attempts to redefine themselves away from interests perceived as female is why some MRA’s feel besieged and marginalised.

    Nick, I would guess yeah, esp. since there’s a lot of overlap in my life between the ones who feel angsty over wearing say teal, and the ones who complain about “gay” being appropriated.

    One of my grandfathers, who was ye olde atheist freethinking domestic tyrant for the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, with a wife who couldn’t drive and thus couldn’t work outside the home and did all the cooking and cleaning and laundry very traditionally, who demanded his every whim and mostly got it, used to moan endlessly about how tyrannized all men including him were by women, because sometimes my grandmother would try to control his drinking of hard liquor, or told him to get up and get his own damn cigarettes and beer, or his daughter would express disgust with his overt flirting with waitresses in public or boasting of encounters with foreign women while stationed abroad in the military… Yeah, life is sooooo hard and unfair these days, people sometimes grumble about being subjugated!

    Being raised in ‘traditional” old-fashioned environments has probably turned more girls into feminists than any amount of “liberal propaganda” ever has, could, or will. (And I have trouble with conjugating collective nouns myself too sometimes, so don’t feel bad!)

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