Sunday, May 29, 2005
The Battle of Paris
It's been a while since I did a piece on the PTC. They're annoying but there's only so many times that you can rail against them without it becoming rather boring. The trouble they are such an easy target. They are on one hand stupid, and on the other hand reminiscent of school yard bullies who scream that they're being bullied when someone stands up to them. In this post we'll confine ourselves to the stupid part.
The stupid part is relatively easy to illustrate with a recent incident. Having mobilised the hordes in an attempt to force CBS to renew Joan Of Arcadia - an attempt that failed since CBS was uninterested in renewing a show that was #50 in the ratings despite the pleas of the faithful - the PTC turned its righteous wrath on an easier target, CKE Restaurants Inc., the owners of the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food restaurant chains. They charge the chain with "a sneak attack on parents" with their new ads featuring Paris Hilton washing a car and eating a hamburger. I'll let the PTC "E-Lert" signed by Tim Winter, Executive Director of the PTC explain what has their bloomers in a knot:
The vehicle for the sneak attack is a sexually charged, adult erotica TV commercial for the chains' "Six Dollar Burgers" in which actress Paris Hilton, wearing an extremely revealing few square inches of leather, is shown sponging and hosing a car and -- mostly -- herself, complete with erotic play with the hose and the sudsy sponge. It concludes with her taking a big bite of a burger and mouthing the tag line, "That's hot!"
CKE has invested a huge ad budget in running the commercial repeatedly -- in versions for both Carl's Jr. and Hardee's -- including on sports programs that parents and grandparents might understandably assume would be free of sexually offensive content.
And despite an almost immediate nationwide uproar of protest -- led by the Parents Television Council's denunciation of the commercial as "the ultimate example of corporate irresponsibility" -- the company's CEO, Andy Puzder, has defended the commercial on the explicit ground that he says it will help the company make more money.
And he told critics -- like you and me -- to "Get a life." Quote unquote.
Well, we need to tell Mr. Puzder to get a conscience.
He said: "This is an attempt to sell hamburgers." Asked if he would hire Hilton again, Puzder said: "If this ad increases sales, I would choose her again.... It's all about the sales."
In other words, anything that sells hamburgers is OK with Mr. Puzder. Later he writes: The one-million-members-strong Parents Television Council (PTC) is sending this message to CKE Restaurants:
IT IS NOT OK TO FLOOD OUR FAMILIES' "YOUNG GUYS" WITH RAUNCHY SEXUAL IMAGES SO YOUR COMPANY CAN SELL MORE BURGERS!
And if we have any say in it, the price you will pay for this outrageous display of corporate irresponsibility is that you will sell fewer burgers!
Well guess what Mr. Winter, you just helped him sell hamburgers.
Because I'm sure that people who wouldn't have paid much attention to the ads will now because your group has told them that they're dirty. And not only do those people have minds and eyes they also buy burgers. I know that if I were anywhere near a place where there was a Carl's Jr. or a Hardee's I'd spend six bucks on one of those burgers just to spite the PTC. When you look at the ads, you have to ask if the PTC would have been so indignant if it wasn't Paris Hilton in those ads, if it were some no name model not the star of The Simple Life and those notorious amateur sex videos. I doubt it. The PTC cites the fact that the ad has been run on sports programs "that parents and grandparents might understandably assume would be free of sexually offensive content" but it's a fact that the commercial in question is no raunchier than a lot of beer ads that have been a staple of TV sports for decades. And they were costumes that are a lot skimpier than what Hilton is wearing. They are, if I'm not mistaken, called bikinis. In addition the earlier ads for the Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger (featuring a "no-name" model riding a mechanical bull in slow motion while eating a burger) is arguably just as sexy. Both ads are on the Carl's Jr. website.
(Oh and by the way, it's a cloth bathing suit of the type that most members of the PTC couldn't hope to afford.)