Sealy Posturpedic Gold Digger Commercial

I’ve been watching commercials again. I can’t help it. There isn’t much else on I’m interested in. I don’t pop a bowl of corn for the DNC/RNC. (All politicians tend to make me uncomfortable when they pontificate.) Commercials catch my attention, moreso lately because of how bad they are rather than what a unique hook they have. Take this one from Sealy Posturpedic:

Oh, how clever of Sealy! Using gold digger trope as a prime example of Us v. Them. You see what they did there? There are regular people who are too busy working to relax, and then there are women who boinked their way to wealth and can therefore sleep all day. I know when I think wealthy woman, I automatically jump to “gold digger” because there is no other way a woman could ever amass so much wealth all she has to do for her daily routine is pamper herself and get hours and hours of rest. ::rolls eyes::

Try imaginging them swapping her out for “Meet Joe Schmoo, gigolo…”

As Jennifer Kesler pointed out on my LJ when I spluttered about this ad, the gold digger stereotype is problematic from an historical standpoint: for ages upon ages, a woman’s means to survive were limited (and often it wasn’t her means at all) to being married off to a man who would care for her basic needs, rely upon family to care for her forever and/or prostitute herself. Then we turn around, get enlightened and a woman who seeks this kind of security is frowned upon or made fun of.

Comments

  1. scarlett says

    Dunno about you, but when I think of wealthy women, I think of JK Rowling and Janet Holmes a Court (Australian business woman) who have made their fortunes from the bottom up.

    I had a random thought today that the golddigger tripe annoys me (no, wait, it wasn’t random. Ray Charles was playing and he sings this song that sounds like Jamie foxx ripped it off for ‘Gold-digger’) because it comes from a long time ago, as you and JK have already established, when a woman was only worth who she could marry. but I think women have all but most given up on that and figured it was better finding their own ways. And it infuriates me when I hear people say ‘she got pregnant so she could marry him for his money’, like she couldn’t have done just as well on her own, nope, she had to lie about taking the pill so she could get some man to look after her.

    I resent this ad because it suggests there are a lot of women looking for a free ride. I’d say there are alot of PEOPLE looking for a free ride, and I’d say the split is about 50-50. (As a philosophical question, what is the difference between a female golddigger and a conman?)

  2. MaggieCat says

    Sealy seems to have a trend of making fun of women in this latest campaign. I’ve only seen this one a couple of times, but I see the one using the same idea with what’s clearly a Paris Hilton parody nearly every day.

    (They do have one with a man here, but FWIW I’ve never actually seen that one on television and only discovered its existence while looking for the other one.)

    I’d say there are alot of PEOPLE looking for a free ride, and I’d say the split is about 50-50.

    Slightly changing tracks, this is one of the things I find so amusing about Burn Notice: that the person living off of wealthy significant others is Sam. Not that it’s a great life plan or anything, but A) it’s nice to see a show avoiding the female gold-digger stereotype and B) Sam seems to be fairly above board about what he’s doing and can maintain some sort of morality (doesn’t hit on other women when he’s involved with someone, doesn’t lie about who he is or string anyone along with false promises, takes it well and is even genuinely hurt sometimes if a woman ends it) even while admitting he prefers a cushier lifestyle. Sort of the male version of what I remember of Loni Anderson’s character on WKRP.

  3. Genevieve says

    MaggieCat–
    I saw that one too, and I have to ask: is this sort of stereotype ever applied to male heirs to large fortunes? Because it’s not as if rich people are automatically guaranteed daughters rather than sons, and Paris Hilton herself has brothers. Yet when rich male heirs are shown on TV, it’s usually: “oh, look at him, he enjoys sailing and has a 4.0 and is headed to Harvard.” Which is all active, intelligent behavior. Whereas women are Paris Hilton who party and sleep and have promiscuous sex. Would a rich man’s sex life ever be subject to so much scrutiny? Probably not, and he certainly wouldn’t face the “oh my GAWD he must have so many STDs” treatment Paris has gotten.
    (I seem to be defending Paris Hilton quite a lot lately…here and on my blog…this is strange.)

  4. sbg says

    Dunno about you, but when I think of wealthy women, I think of JK Rowling and Janet Holmes a Court (Australian business woman) who have made their fortunes from the bottom up.

    Yep, it would have been much less annoying had the woman highlighted been defined as someone who’d worked her way up and now could rest on her laurels. We’d still get that Poor/Hardworking v. Rich/No Longer Hardworking comparison.

    But I guess for Sealy that only works if the person who’s up there lying about didn’t actually earn it.

    *sigh*

  5. sbg says

    Maggie,

    They seem to have the gold digger one on replay up here. I’ve never seen the other two. I don’t like any of them. I don’t even like the message: don’t be like these lazy louts, buy our mattress and consider yourself lucky to get six hours of sleep!

    Slightly changing tracks, this is one of the things I find so amusing about Burn Notice: that the person living off of wealthy significant others is Sam. Not that it’s a great life plan or anything, but A) it’s nice to see a show avoiding the female gold-digger stereotype and B) Sam seems to be fairly above board about what he’s doing and can maintain some sort of morality (doesn’t hit on other women when he’s involved with someone, doesn’t lie about who he is or string anyone along with false promises, takes it well and is even genuinely hurt sometimes if a woman ends it) even while admitting he prefers a cushier lifestyle. Sort of the male version of what I remember of Loni Anderson’s character on WKRP.

    I like that there’s really no inkling of criticism for Sam’s lifestyle. I think Michael bears it with a long-suffering quality, but Sam’s not derided for being a mooch. I do wonder how Sam would be written if he were actually Samantha. I think Burn Notice would probably handle it the same way, but I shudder to think what other shows would do with it.

  6. sbg says

    Yet when rich male heirs are shown on TV, it’s usually: “oh, look at him, he enjoys sailing and has a 4.0 and is headed to Harvard.” Which is all active, intelligent behavior. Whereas women are Paris Hilton who party and sleep and have promiscuous sex. Would a rich man’s sex life ever be subject to so much scrutiny? Probably not, and he certainly wouldn’t face the “oh my GAWD he must have so many STDs” treatment Paris has gotten.

    There are rich male heirs out there? I wasnt aware… ;)

    Seriously, though, they’re not splashed all over the rags, are they?

  7. gategrrl says

    Darn, there was a study done at some point (no idea where) that stated that daughters of rich men tended to be very dependent on their fathers, because rich fathers tended to spoil them rotten. The rich fathers wouldn’t do that with their sons, however; they expected their sons to make it rich like they had, on their own.

    I’ll have to google it and see if I can find it.

  8. says

    You know, WKRP is finally back in syndication and this has got me thinking about Jennifer (Loni Anderson). She wasn’t really a gold digger – it was more like she was just so beautiful and graceful and charming to spend time with that wealthy men expressed their appreciation of her company with gifts. She never asked them for things – didn’t even hint. They just offered, and she accepted. And it’s not as if she didn’t have a job, too, even though clearly she didn’t need it to make ends meet.

    The show never criticized her for this. Everyone on the show had their strengths, and hers was a set of excellent people skills combined with a genuine love of people. Everyone turned to her for advice and support. The fact that she was also beautiful and men took it upon themselves to give her things was not something we were invited to judge her for – it was just funny.

    There was one episode in which someone suggested to her she was a gold digger, and she was very hurt – Mr. Carlson, I believe, was the one to console her with the arguments I made above. I have a feeling some people were perceiving her as a gold digger anyway, and the show did that episode to set the record straight, at least as far as the writers were concerned.

  9. Genevieve says

    Sbg–
    The only ones who come to mind are Princes William and Harry of England, and that Paris Latsis guy who used to be engaged to Paris Hilton. Latsis was only in the media for a brief time when he was with Hilton (though it might be different in Greece), and he never got the horrible treatment she did. In the US, at least, William and Harry are treated respectfully, and they were kind of the ones I was thinking of: fancy schools, big careers, et cetera.

  10. Scarlett says

    As far as Harry and William go, I have a personal beef with the fact I think Anne should be first in line, not Charles, but the only negative stuff I’ve heard about them is to do with the fact in general that the Windsors cost the Commonwealth so much. (I’ve forgotten the actual number, but it’s a dollars-per-everyone-living-in-the-UK-Australia-Canada-etc thing; you think about how many people the Commonwealth covers and that’s a LOT of money.) Which is to do with the fact a large family is being supported very lavishly by taxpayers for being largely ceromonial, not that William and Harry are personal targets per se.

    Scratch that. There HAS been a lot of tabloid coverage about them both being playboys, that they party a lot and neither would commit to the women significant in their lives etc. (I thought it was bad in Australia, but in London…) But it was largely presented as a ‘boys will be boys, all men must sow their wild oats’ things rather than a ‘those bastards!’ type thing (and hey, at least Hilton run amoks on her own money.)

  11. sbg says

    Darn, there was a study done at some point (no idea where) that stated that daughters of rich men tended to be very dependent on their fathers, because rich fathers tended to spoil them rotten. The rich fathers wouldn’t do that with their sons, however; they expected their sons to make it rich like they had, on their own.

    Ah, the “Daddy’s Little Girl” syndrome. Love that one.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    Darn, there was a study done at some point (no idea where) that stated that daughters of rich men tended to be very dependent on their fathers, because rich fathers tended to spoil them rotten. The rich fathers wouldn’t do that with their sons, however; they expected their sons to make it rich like they had, on their own.

    That sounds to me like one of those studies where it’s all in the phrasing. Daughters in patriarchies are always rendered dependent on Daddy until they become dependent on Hubby. That’s the whole point of a culture where women are property: female dependence on males.

    I would argue that many of the women who’ve done something independent in history came from the monied classes where class privilege helped to mitigate the anti-privilege of being female.

  13. firebird says

    I’ve been reading Shari Tepper’s Singer By the Sea, set on another planet but one settled by a rich elite of men who recruited some women and some “commoners” to come live with them in a religious patriarchy (bit of an eyeroll there). Anyhoo, she has a lovely little arc where the protagonist’s father gets a rude awakening to how hard his daughter works to keep his house running, especially when he keeps having dinner parties at court – when he finally learns enough to actually ask, he finds that she is “up at seven” and working “till after you retire”. Oh, and the bit about not drinking liquids after noon on the day of a ball – which could last till the wee hours of the morning – because one couldn’t leave the ball easily to go pee was funny as well.

    On the same general page, I saw a commercial for a new season sequeling the miniseries The Starter Wife, so I was thinking about that storyline over the weekend and it has a similar idea as the household-running daughter; the wife’s unseen and unrewarded 16 hour days working behind the scenes keeping her director husband’s Hollywood lifestyle rolling.

    I sometimes wonder why it is that society assumes that people (usually women, in ours) who are not earning a cash wage are not working or are not producing anything of value, or are not necessary to the functioning of our society? I suppose there are the famous (and some, naturally, not so famous) golddiggers or companions/gigolos or other rich people who don’t work or produce…but I wonder at the stereotype that they are so widely prevalent or common!

  14. says

    I sometimes wonder why it is that society assumes that people (usually women, in ours) who are not earning a cash wage are not working or are not producing anything of value, or are not necessary to the functioning of our society?

    There could be a thousand valid answers to this question, but mine would be that US culture is so steeped in materialism that a minority of people realize just because something doesn’t have a dollar amount attached doesn’t mean it’s worth nothing.

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