Mad As A Wet Hen #2A Roundup of Media Affronts

“So now you can eat like one of the boys, but still look like one of the girls,” says the male voice-over touting Baked Lays potato chips while supermodels stuff their faces on screen. Eating is a masculine activity, while being looked at is feminine. But this old-hat belief is topped by the variation on Lays’s usual tag line: “Bet you can’t eat just one…bag.” The all-too-common binge/purge cycle of eating disorders is obliquely referenced, and even condoned. Yes, go ahead, says the ad, eat bags and bags and bags, and still stay thin. We’ll look the other way while you vomit. The very existence of a movie like Bed of Roses. Need we say more? Oh, boys, did you know—Twix bars are the new way to get rid of those pesky, materialistic, shallow, shopping-obsessed females in your life. Girl (As she tries on shoe after shoe after shoe and her boyfriend sits by, bored silly): Ooh, a shoe sale. These are cute…and these, and these… Boy (As he unwraps a Twix, his secret weapon): Time out! Girl (Holding many shopping bags): Let’s talk purses. (Boy bites into the Twix and Girl disappears in a puff of smoke. How tidy.) Eating is a masculine activity, part two: Wendy’s Big Eaters ads. Chunky men eat while the announcer talks about how big the meals are. One guy is even applauded for eating two full meals. Of course there are no women here—how could a chunky woman be proud of eating, proud of her body? Chunky women are for “before” segments of Jenny Craig ads. On Caroline in the City, four men discuss post-break-up ettiquette. Dell, Caroline’s ex-boyfriend, is pissed because she has a date with another man. He says that he has six months to decide if he wants her back. “In Napoli, it’s two years,” says the waiter in the restaurant that they frequent. “In Sicily, it’s forever,” counters Remo, the restauranteur. “Does anyone tell the women about this?” Richard, Caroline’s sensitive-artist assistant, asks. Remo replies, “Does anyone tell the football what time the game starts?” Yeah, yeah, it’s a sitcom, take a joke, blah blah blah. Audience sympathy is probably supposed to lie with Richard and his viewpoint anyway, blah blah blah. It still makes me gag. Not to mention the Italian stereotyping… Eating is a masculine activity, part three: On Wings, Helen and Joe are babysitting for a little girl. Joe offers her ice cream, and Helen overrules him, offering her “a plate of fruits, nuts, and low-fat cottage cheese.” She also warns, “You know what happens to little girls who eat ice cream? They become big fatties. And when prom might comes, they don’t have a real date—they have to go with their cousin Stuey.” Let’s not go into what happens to girls who deny themselves ice cream. It has something to do with being fed intraveneously. Why is Linda Fiorentino being wasted in movies like Jade and Unforgettable?

This article was published in Issue #2 Issue #2 | Spring 1996

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