Velveeta Cheesy Skillets

See also.

Okay, look. I get it. It’s supposed to be surreal and weird, and leave the viewer with an “OMG, what did I just watch?” feeling they’re sure to remember when they’re in the overly-processed food aisle at the market. It’s an advertising trope that seems more and more common ala Old Spice, or DQ. I understand that weird = memorable.

But something about these commercials always sets off alarms to me above and beyond the sheer WTFery of them. It took me awhile to figure out it’s partially that this bizarro man appears randomly to women to “teach” them the right way to cook and nourish their families (glorified Hamburger Helper is real cooking now?). In their homes. And then he apparently induces some kind of hallucination that puts these women in disturbing, dark places alone with him.

It’s also partially the expressions on the women’s faces, the whole “what is going on right now?!” coupled with something else: alarm bordering on fear. Am I imagining things? I’m fairly sure I saw the woman in the microwave one wince when Scary Blacksmith (?!) Guy says, “Yesssss.”

No.

Also, men can and do cook but I’d be willing to bet a month’s salary the ad execs behind this campaign would never have Scary Blacksmith Guy give a psychotropic tutorial to a dude. Nope, the default is woman-in-the-kitchen.

Comments

  1. says

    Don’t forget – the woman is also trying to do a quick dinner, to have time for something else, but no: grind meat, cook noodles, insert cheese. Because women must spent their time cooking, and being busy is bad.

  2. Casey says

    It’s like they tried to stick a random-ass Harlequin Romance dude into an instant-hamburger commercial to kill two birds with one stone: LOL WTF WACKY! and maybe a half-hearted attempt to appeal to women with a hot guy.

    But of course they fail miserably.

  3. Dina Bow says

    I also notice some commercials that show the guy cooking rarely show a woman. Its like he is doing it for the kids but only because there isn’t a woman to do it for him.

  4. Nuri says

    At least she keeps a WTF face throughout. The traditional way to do it would have had her becoming a Velveeta whatever fan because of the Hawt Blacksmith. I think they tried to parody something, not very sure about what though (Ghost?), but the result is meh at best, creepy at worst..

  5. Eileen says

    Casey,

    He definitely is supposed to be a romance novel figure, and the creepiness of these commercials underlines the inherent rape-iness of those characters.

  6. Eileen says

    And besides everything else, she’s supposed to serve Velveeta instead of fast food. But Velveeta isn’t any healthier than fast food, it just includes prep time that fast food would not, so the woman is giving up the advantage of fast food in avoiding labor, but not actually accruing any benefit to her family. I mean, eat Velveeta if you want to, but as food it isn’t better than if you’d made a run to the burger joint.

    So there’s no convenience and no additional benefit to the food; it’s just more labor intensive for the woman. That blacksmith guy is a freaking sadist.

  7. sbg says

    Eileen,

    The thing that always strikes me about these kits is that they can be assembled from healthy ingredients that don’t have a bunch of unpronounceable things on them, without much more time spent. Like Bisquick, too. Really, it’s not hard to whip up biscuit dough or pancake batter from scratch.

    So, if you’ve got time to cheesy skillet, you’ve got time to make something like it with better items. Or, if you don’t – you don’t and an occasional night through the drive thru won’t kill you.

  8. Robin says

    sbg — Exactly. Using non-kit ingredients means you can control exactly what goes into it. One-pot meals are great, but all the kit meals I’ve had are way too salty. (I grew up poor-ish in the 80s with two working parents. It happened sometimes. As did fast food, and we were just fine.)

    I can’t actually bring myself to watch the ad based on the description, but I’ll gladly take your collective word that it’s skeevy. I’d bet good money that the advertising agency never even suggested having Romance Novel Dude (or Hot Chick, if we’re being heteronormative) show a guy how to use the meal kit.

  9. says

    I feel like I should defend romance novels here. Not all of the heroes are Rapist Alpha Assholes! It’s confirmation bias on the ones who are, combined with social pressures degrading anything women enjoy, that create this stereotype. I promise, there are plenty of romance novels that aren’t all evo-psych, “me active man, you passive woman, hold still while I rape you ’til you love me” heteronormative shit.

  10. Jenny Islander says

    Yes, that’s a particular niche and a lot of the readers who have commented on it online point out that it’s a fantasy: “You have no choice but to be given brain-shattering orgasms by somebody who knows exactly what sensations will feel best at every moment without having to be told.”

    I like to do ad fixes in my head. How about this?

    OPENING SCENE: Shot in soft focus, romantic music playing, hunky guy preparing something complicated that sizzles deliciously.
    FOCUS ON PAN IN OPENING SCENE AND DISSOLVE TO: Woman standing over skillet in ordinary kitchen cooking a Velveeta Cheesy Skillet meal and looking a bit rueful. OR FOCUS ON MAN’S FACE IN OPENING SCENE AND DISSOLVE TO: Ordinary-looking guy (or same actor made up to look plain) ditto.
    AND THEN: Spouse (perhaps this actor should also be the hunky guy in the original scene?) walks by and does something nice: kiss dropped in passing, puts a coffee or a glass of juice on the counter, or smiles at person cooking but hears a crash and kids yelling offscreen and dashes offscreen shouting “I got it!” Or all three if this is a longer ad.
    VOICEOVER: Velveeta Cheesy Skillets. Real. Good.

    It might even be possible to squeak a non-heteronormative version past Mrs. Grundy, at least in some viewing areas.

  11. Casey says

    R.,

    I started raging as soon as I saw the headless woman in an “ALLERGIC TO ALGEBRA” shirt…goddammit I already stink at math, I don’t need this to further hinder my progress.

  12. Ebb says

    Thanks for hitting the nail on the head on what was bothering me about this commercial. I knew it was trying to be TEH LULZ but it just didn’t work for me. Like those Hillshire Farm and Swiffer commercials, but for slightly different reasons.

    Nuri,
    Yeah at the very, very, very least there is that. The look on her face is basically mine when ever that ad comes on.

  13. SunlessNick says

    For me it’s how the first we see of him is when he grabs hold of her wrist – with her clearly flinching, not having known he was there,

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