#3. There's Got to Be a Better Way to Advertise Underwear
Let's assume for a second that everyone reading this column is a gay man. Just suuuper gay. You're so gay that when I casually suggest that you call me because I don't have any gay friends, you remind me that not every Grace gets a Will. But you say it so cattily that I know you're fooling, so I put my hand up to my ear and mouth "Call me." And you do, because who wants to turn down friendship? Two years later, I'm in your wedding and you make me wear a top hat because we're so playful.
Even though I know that you and everyone else reading this are the gayest, I'm going to bet money that you don't cavort around in your skivvies as often as the men who advertised underwear back in the day. If I didn't know any better, I'd think "hanging out in your underwear with your man-friends" was a regular pre-Vietnam endeavor and the underwear companies were just documenting it. Like when the young man below either lights his older friend's cigarette or lets him lovingly kiss his hand.
Does it help that the seated man is wearing white leggings, an anklet and ballerina flats? No, it does not. But at least the ad just has two casually undressed guys hanging out, talking and holding hands and whatnot. A little innuendo never hurt anybody. The two below put innuendo on a wrestling mat and straddled it while wiggling their butts.
Again, I'm guessing that totally out and proud gay guys do not wrestle each other in their underwear. I wouldn't know, though, because you never invite me to your parties. The point is that Munsingwear's "Stretchy-Seat" underwear is specifically targeting men who engage in semi-naked combat. We're forced to conclude that either that was a thing people did back then or Munsingwear seriously misread their market. At least the ad below gives us some reasonable context: a locker room. Yes, it is perfectly reasonable to imagine men talking to each other in a locker room as they undress. I mean, I'm not imagining that right now. I don't have to:
COME ON, ARROW. Seamless crotch? GO GAY? But not too gay? In the whole English language, there wasn't a better way of putting across the idea that you changed your colors? Nice corset, Gene Kelly. How much do you want to bet that the text bubble is covering up a third guy doing squats or something?
Speaking of ...
Doink! Dad got caught exercising privately in his own room again! Skippy and Junior didn't knock so they could capture every riotous second as they stood at the door laughing in their underpants, as grown brothers often do. Junior is also brushing Skippy's nipple, because at this point, why not?
Finally, I want to say that there's nothing wrong with people dressing in a way that defies gender expectations, like a man wearing ladies' stockings and patent leather shoes while lovingly caressing his own leg, for example. Or when a woman is a cop. That's a fine thing to do. I am saying it's probably not the best way to advertise your man socks.
This guy is business on the top, party on the bottom. He's the first human mullet.
#2. The Very Worst Way to Advertise Bananas
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love justice and goodness, and those who approved this ad. If I were a banana seller, here would be my NO! List when it came time to sit down with admen:
And that's pretty much it for my list. There are a lot of fun ways you can advertise bananas. There's only one that's pretty rapey: shoving them down the throat of a little girl whose face is saying "NO" and whose body language is screaming for a restraining order against Stripes. You can try to be cute ...
You can even try to be sexy. By all means, throw some sex appeal into your banana ad. You've earned it. Banana republics don't come cheap.
Make an ad where monkeys put bananas in their butts for no good reason. Make an ad that features disabled bananas in wheelchairs speaking with robot voices. Make a bin Laden banana that gets taken out by little babies dressed as SEAL Team 6. Recreate the Zapruder film with bananas. "Bananas: So Good, They Made the Sinking of the Titanic Worth It."
Do literally anything you want, but don't jam an oversized banana down a little girl's throat.
Speaking of the worst thing in the world ....
#1. Caring Dads Always Lube
We can joke about wieners and salad tossing all day and all night, but at the end of the day, we know we're just making fun of some poor wording choices. But here -- I honestly have no idea what's going on, and I want to call Child Protective Services just to talk out my feelings.
Let's start with the jelly itself. I'm a mom 10 times over and I still don't know what Vaseline is useful for, other than becoming a mom in the first place. Diaper rash prevention? Maybe, if you really want to rub jelly all over your kid's bare private parts. No thanks. Treating cuts and bruises? How about you don't raise a bunch of clumsy dolts instead? Or better yet, don't beat your children. If your kids are so cut up that you're investing in tubs of Vaseline, you're probably already on social services' watch list anyway, so don't plan on making it to the bottom of the jar.
The problem with this ad is that they insist on using "bedtime," "dad" and "lube" in the same context. Let's assume people used to put Vaseline on cuts for some reason. Why would you specifically do that at night? Your sheets and pillowcases would get oily. Yet Vaseline has forced us to assume that this is a product for treating injuries ... at night. That's the very best scenario we can hope for: that bedtime was once "oil your cuts" time, and dad was in charge. The little girl's head size and facial injuries indicate that this is not a diaper rash treatment. Is her head swollen from the beatings? Is she crying because she knows she'll never wear normal hats thanks to her father's punch-hugs? What if the doll is the girl and the giant big-headed girl is an imaginary manifestation of her inner trauma?
Thanks, Vaseline. Thanks for coercing me into assuming that an illustrated child goes to bed with new, greased-up injuries every night. Because the alternative is too awful to consider.
Quick Addendum: A fellow writer has pointed out that the Vaseline ad is most certainly a photoshop job. So we all have one more thing to add to our list of things to be thankful for.
And just in case you can't get the lube ad out of your head, there's no way I'm ending on this note. Here.
I hope we can be friends again ... and ... and ... I love you.