A sex scene came on as my 10-year-old brother and I watched the Olympics. Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles were interrupted by 30 seconds of three women and three layers of bacon. Carl’s Jr. aired another one of its commercials throughout the Olympics, aimed at “young hungry guys”—that’s the way CEO Andrew Puzder describes his target demographic in an article from Entrepreneur.
Instinctively I told my brother to close his eyes when the commercial came on; I fumbled for the remote and jammed a button that I hoped would change the channel. The screen switched to a Claritin commercial on the channel above, and a long, awkward moment of silence ensued.
I was furious because I shouldn’t have to censor the Olympics.
I was furious because a 10-year-old should never be introduced to over-sexualization, objectification and misogyny—much less in the middle of watching strong, capable women competing in the Olympics.
The irony is rich.
These commercials don’t represent love. No one claims they do. But they do a great deal in counteracting real love, and they do so on two different planes: individually and societally.
Individual Views of Women
Love is beautiful and exciting because it is a constant pursuit of the otherness of someone else. It’s this otherness that makes people unique and beautiful; no matter how much time I spend with someone else, I will never reach the bottom of who they are—their otherness provides the beauty of continual discovery.
As a Christian, I believe this is a reflection of the Imago Dei—the divine grace of God—in each of us, this never-ending joy of discovery in someone else’s otherness.
These sex-scenes starring a burger definitely don’t look like love. They definitely don’t look like a celebration of otherness.
Porn and the over-sexualization of women takes this otherness—with its mysteries and desires and dreams—and turns it into “mine-ness.” It blurs the face of the other person and looks to what can bring it pleasure.
Simply put, this is lust, and while love serves the other, lust serves itself.
Puzder says no one knew who Kate Upton was when they casted her; they only did so because “she was a really hot blonde.” Notice where the identity is placed in this statement. It is not on the person of Kate Upton; it is the “really hot blonde.”
This lack of identity is lust, and lust is a cavity that eats away at the beauty of commitment. It creates hollow people unable to look at faces but only at attributes.
The models used in the Carl’s Jr. ads are indiscernible from one another because they are not on screen to illicit relationship; they are only there to illicit lust.
Societal Views of Women
Earlier in Entrepreneur’s article on Puzder, he’s quoted as saying “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
I’ll quote Puzder again, this time adding my own emphasis to make sure you don’t skip over the important part.
“I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I THINK IT’S VERY AMERICAN.”
Clearly, America is living two very different narratives. The first, as professed by the Olympic games, expresses the capabilities and wholeness of women. The second, as professed by three layers of bacon, expresses the complete objectification of a woman’s body.
The Olympics say, “Women are whole, strong and capable.”
Carl’s Jr. says, “Women are to be enhanced, used and objectified.”
It’s an identity crisis that places young girls and boys watching the Olympics at its crux. On one hand we have Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Lilly King (and her finger wag), while on the other we have 64-year-old men with a lot of money to spend on advertising.
The Olympics recognize the whole woman in her beautiful complexity and otherness.
Carl’s Jr. and the “young, hungry guys” who help their sales spike, only recognize the one-dimensional sexuality of women.
And it’s this one-dimensionality that robs us of the richness that is real, deep, authentic love.
Carl’s Jr. fuels this unhealthy fire.
The games that bring forth some of the strongest women in the world are being sponsored by 30 seconds of misogyny.
In between strong faces of women Olympians come blurred faces of sexuality.
Which one is more American?
Fortunately or unfortunately, we get to be the ones to decide.
Drew Brown loves to laugh and is trying to be an adult. He writes about life and God and The Office at drewbrownwrites.com and tweets @drewbrownwrites.