As a rule, I tend to be a bit of a pacifist. I believe that all living beings deserve to be treated with equal love and respect, and I do my best to walk this talk while also maintaining a pretty long fuse for people and situations that test this. I used to pride myself on not letting things get under my skin, but in the last couple weeks I’ve finally started connecting with my shadow side – the parts I hide in order to be deemed “acceptable.” And I’ve come to realize that I hide my weirdness and my anger. So, I’m going to get down with a rage-inspired post that I originally wrote over 4 years ago and promptly swept under the rug. And still have a copy of because I obviously don’t hold grudges…
It all started with US Cellular’s* recent, oh-so-clever print campaign. The ones you’d see on the El with captions describing the ridiculous things your friends and family do on their phones that cost you money (with other carriers, of course!), and an accompanying photo of said offender. Like your great-Aunt Bertha sending pics of her Yorkshire terrier and its new sweater. Like your younger Aunt Julie calling and talking to you for hours on end. Like “(w)hen your wife calls you six times a day from her back pocket…” It was this last example that bothered me the moment I saw it. Before we move on, let’s note very quickly that these are all women – I don’t recall seeing any men in this campaign. Now, let’s take a look at our wife, shall we?
Aaw… Isn’t she lovely? She can’t help that she does silly things like that sometimes, even though she’s not doing anything wrong if THE PHONE is calling people from her back pocket. Clearly it’s still her fault because she’s a woman who’s attractive and doesn’t know how to use technology (and you decide if that statement is a list or an equation). Silly, silly pretty wife.
The first two times I saw this ad, I grumbled at it and went on my way. The third time I must’ve been in the right mood to put my Liberal Arts Education to use because I took a longer look and noticed… wait a minute, are those cabinet drawers behind her head? They almost completely blend into the background with their eggshell-whiteness that it’s kinda hard to tell. But I’m pretty sure that’s what they are. They look like the kind of cabinet drawers you’d see in a kitchen, as a matter of fact, so I looked more closely to see if there were other clues about this room… Oh, there:
Along the bottom edge of the frame, slightly distorted by US Cellular’s branding and peeking out from behind your wife’s beautiful, cascading locks, are two round, silver objects with what might be handles that sure as hell look like POTS. And a cone-shaped thing, but fuck that thing, whatever it is. This woman is IN. A FUCKING. KITCHEN. Oh, HELL no!!
Really, US Cellular?! You think this is appropriate marketing for 2010?? (Well… maybe they do “know better,” hence the need for the subliminal décor) She’s slightly bent over, too. Doing what in a kitchen, do you suppose? Chopping vegetables for dinner? Rolling out some cookie dough for the kids? Getting some sausage from you, her husband? Oh, maybe she’s cleaning!
This makes me so unbelievably angry. Seriously, I’m stress-eating tortilla chips as I type this. Here she is: Your Wife. She’s a good wife. She’s pretty and she’s in the kitchen – like all wives should be, let’s be honest. She just happens to accidentally call you six times a day from her back pocket because she doesn’t seem to have anything else to do in her almost angelically white-washed world. This would be annoying coming from anyone else; but not from your wife because she’s so pretty, and because you’ve got that plan with US Cellular, so you won’t get charged anyway, right?? I mean, c’mon. Look at that smile. She knows she’s got these mind powers to control the phone in her back pocket, and she feels bad about fucking that up – slightly embarrassed, even – but gosh, you just can’t stay mad at her, can you? Look at her. No, you can’t stay mad. She’s just So. Fucking. Pretty, standing there IN YOUR FUCKING KITCHEN.
I suppose you could argue, well, where else could you put her so the transit-riding public will get that she’s a wife? The grocery store? Too much going on in the background, what with all the shelves and canned goods and whatnot. In her car, waiting outside the kids’ school? No, that might imply she knows how to drive and therefore is self-sufficient, and therefore is somewhat intelligent. The laundry room? Oh, come now, that’s just cliché. You certainly can’t put her in an office, that’s for damn sure.
However, as if in response to my (albeit rage-induced) prayers, later that day I was treated to this:
That’s what I’m fucking talking about! Helen Mirren wielding a goddamn bazooka, starring alongside Mary Louise Parker (still billed behind the men… but I’ll take it). Brain candy, both of ‘em. They’re like fruit for your soul – a sweet, tasty treat that won’t make you rot from the inside. Later still, I saw this:
State House of Representatives candidate Jeremy Karpen, wearing rubber gloves and wielding his special brand of cleaner! With an English version right next to it. Not only is he creatively bending (out-of-date) gender roles, he is also a Caucasian man attempting to reach out to the Hispanic community while ADDITIONALLY subtly indicating his Green Party affiliation. I voted for him because of these three things.
WHEW!!! Goddamn, I am relieved to find we are still in a new century – new millennium, even – despite attempts to set us back 50 years. Wait, what year was suffrage…?
Alright, I’ve spent enough precious venom on this topic. In closing, don’t give your money to US Cellular. And vote for Helen Mirren. Thank you.
* 2015 update: a Google search reveals that US Cellular stores and resellers have essentially been chased out of the Chicagoland area. Where…their headquarter offices are… THANK GOD.