I enjoy most M&M commercials. They’re often cute and clever and nothing says fun like anthropomorphized chocolate candies. But lately, I’ve become annoyed at the very obvious differences between Green, the only female-gendered M&M (to my knowledge), and, say, Yellow or Red.
Yellow and Red are often shown chumming around. Yellow’s rather oafish and a bit slow. Red’s snarky and sarcastic. Their interaction is probably stereotypical in its own right – see the hypothermia commercial, which is about the only one where their gender is essential, and even then it’s not about sex. Countless other classic commericals, though, are simply cute and funny: Ice cream treats and what are you eating? are decent examples of the comedic duo Yellow and Red are supposed to be and the Addams Family commercial is classic – I am always impressed with how much that one looks like Uncle Fester. I’m sure if M&Ms are available in your country, you can think of countless other harmless, fun commercials – the “this is the day” campaign is catchy and always a favorite.
Now we’ll take a look at some commercials in which Green’s the star. Take the cat-calling commercial [video removed from YouTube], which highlights the phenomenon of a woman being “appreciated” on the street. It’s saved a little bit by having a woman also ogle Green, and Green’s sassy comeback, but ultimately the ad makers had to use Green here, because everyone knows people will not whistle and make inappropriate remarks at a male-gendered M&M. Take the Megan Mullally commerical as another example - the only intances of sexualization involve Megan herself (and not in an overt way, more in a showtunes kind of way) and Green, who is described as a “chocolate beauty queen”.
The one that really got me peeved was the most recent ad for M&M Premiums, in which Green struts around as if she’s in a soft porn, with a sexy woman reading the voice over. Again, when the message is that eating chocolate is a sensual affair, the go-to gal is Green. The guys, meanwhile, are the ones filming her and their reaction is … well, I don’t know what to say about it.
Green also gets sexualized internationally. I stumbled across a few examples on YouTube: Green Eye Candy, Green Naked (this one isn’t sexy, per se), and an, uh, interesting music vid in which Green is the object of objectification for Yellow and Red.
The differences aren’t subtle here. Even the music played in Green’s commercials cues the audience to think chocolate = sex, whereas the other M&M commercials suggest playfulness and fun. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Green is gendered female and is used in a surprisingly blatant way (for chocolate candy, anyway).
I don’t know if I can ever look at M&Ms the same way again.