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 Liar, Liar

The air smelled of wood-burning fireplaces and the twinkle lights on my street, white and blue then red and green, wished me holiday cheer, but I was still fuming from the woman in the burgundy Le Sabre who saw me waiting for that space outside of Sears and took it nonetheless. Bah-humbug.

Tired of circling the mall parking lot searching for a space, I decided to go home and watch TV instead. What I needed was to stir those little white marshmallows into a cup of cocoa and settle down for this year’s airing of the Grinch who I sometimes lovingly think of as my soul mate. So instead of Christmas shopping, I found myself pulling into my driveway.

I turned on the TV, and there he was, green and grumpy, just like me, but as I watched, I found myself more fascinated by the commercials than the show itself.

But perhaps I should qualify…I wouldn’t say I was as fascinated by the commercials as I was repulsed by them. What’s with this new tendency? “Let’s show men lying to women to sell more of our product.” How insulting.

The commercial that first opened my eyes to this disturbing trend was the one from Taco Bell. It seems the geniuses in the advertising department believe that the most direct way into a woman’s heart is to lie to her and tell her that you are cooking fajita steak on your grill in the backyard, from an “old family recipe” no less. You then pull the “Taco Bell switch out” which means you pull their fajita steak tacos out of their bag and serve them to your unsuspecting prey on a plate from your kitchen and pretend that you cooked it. Boy, look how smart you are and how dumb she is. What a fabulous way to start a relationship. Lie to her.

Another commercial that follows this same philosophy is the masterpiece from In this little gem, a flushed and excited bride calls to tell her mother how nice her honeymoon hotel room is while her groom whispers to a bellhop in the hallway something like, “My bride thinks I spent a fortune on this room, but I only spent ninety dollars on” Wow, what a fabulous way to start a marriage. Trick your bride. (Honey, you better get that diamond engagement ring appraised. It just may be cubic zirconia.)

Later that night, I had the misfortune of seeing yet another commercial of this type brought to us by our esteemed friends at Michelob. A hot girl is looking for her luggage as a potential suitor steals it and shoves it in a garbage can. She heads over to baggage claim services where he has strategically placed a “back in one hour” sign. She has nothing to do. A-ha, a dating opportunity! He takes her for a Michelob at the airport bar. “Gosh,” I thought as I watched the end of the commercial, “I hope he goes and gets her luggage out of the garbage can and returns it to her after this drink.” Fat chance. Guess I won’t be drinking Michelob this holiday season.

Now I know that advertisers are trying to be more entertaining and commercials are trending towards looking like a scene from Friends, but isn’t there a way to do this without showing women as gullible idiots and men as lying pigs trying to get…well, you know what? Does anybody remember the name of that group that grants raspberry awards for negative images of women in advertising? I have a few nominations I’d like to send along.

December 2002

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