I have come to expect that Super Bowl advertising will push the envelope. With that many million viewers, ad agencies can’t resist the opportunity to create buzz, and will often do so through a combination of sexual innuendo and humor. But why wait until January when you can associate your product with hyper-masculinity and porn culture four months early? It’s college football season, y’all!
In case you haven’t seen it, Kraft-Heinz food brands has an ad campaign for Devour Foods (frozen meals you buy in the grocery store) running during select college football games. In one ad, a thirty-something white man is eating pasta in what appears to be the employee break room of a car repair shop, and he is talking dirty to his food, which he then spanks. A co-worker comes in asks “Did you just spank your food?” After the man eating replies in the affirmative, the co-worker replies “Nice.” Cue the sexy female voice: Food You Want To Fork.
Yep, that’s right. Male pornographic gaze, alive and well. And not during late night television (when you can assume a mature audience), but during a Sunday afternoon Notre Dame-Texas football game. Because you definitely want your four year old daughter to ask you “Why did he say spanking, mommy?” The point of the second character, it seems to me, is to make the creepy guy cool. Yuck.
Porn has seeped into mainstream consciousness. Gail Dines writes about this in Pornland, but she isn’t the only one concerned about it. As Dines describes it, in “porn sex,” men always get what they want and women do what they are told. Even if you have never watched gonzo porn, writes Dines, you have been influenced by its messaging. One disturbing result is that young women internalize the messages of porn culture and then critique their own bodies or the bodies of other young women through an internalized male gaze (in which, to use Dines’ language, you are either f&ckable or you are invisible). So now Kraft-Heinz wants you to think of your food as forkable.
Obviously, this ad campaign does not align with our church’s teachings on human dignity and the goodness of sexuality.
A few of us at CMT have written about rape culture and the vice of pornography before (see here, here, here, here, and here), so I won’t repeat everything from previous posts. But I do encourage Catholics to avoid purchasing Devour foods (or better yet, all Kraft-Heinz brands). Why? To demonstrate with our wallets that offensive ad campaigns won’t increase sales.