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Lynx: now with 100% more wrong!

January 7, 2010

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have their famous Doomsday Clock, graphing humanity’s current likelihood of imminently wiping ourselves out in the form of a clock showing minutes before midnight. It’s been standing at 11.55 for three years now, the ‘latest’ it’s been since 1984.

I have, and I think a lot of people have, a metaphorical version of this clock registering the tick-tocking loss of all faith in humanity. Nice, wonderful, egalitarian things set it back; really damn stupid, hateful and plain evil things push it forward.

Christmas is really good for setting it back, I find – our family does cosy Chrissies with plenty of food, plenty of presents and inane word games after dinner, with such religion as is involved being strictly of the let’s-sing-happy-songs variety, which I can cope with. (Nobody ever said you had to believe that the events described in a song were literally true and laudable before you could sing it, or oh God would a lot of metal fans be in trouble.)

However we’re now a whole week (!) into the New Year, and the clock’s started to tick forward again, with moonbats on the Internet being, as always, the primary cause. Over the last couple of days it’s jumped quite a bit, mainly due to it finally dawning on me just how massively stupid and wrong this advert is.

TVTropes has a term for this: it’s the Quickthaw subtype of Fridge Horror. It’s when it dawns on you hours or days or longer after seeing something that it has unfortunate implications on a titanic scale and, somehow, nobody else has ever noticed, or if they did, cared enough to point it out to you.

The brand name in the ad is different – we know it as Lynx in the UK – but it’s exactly the same clip that’s been running on UK television on and off for a while, though thankfully not recently that I’ve noticed. For those for whom the link is broken or who otherwise can’t access the clip, it shows a young man spraying himself with chocolate-flavoured Lynx and . . . turning into living chocolate. He goes out. Women in gyms abandon their exercise and flock to the window to drool. Women on the street rip bits off him. Women on trains take bites out of him when he isn’t looking. And so on.

For the sake of my sanity, and because I think I’m losing the ability to write really coherent paragraphs along with the will to live, here I present everything wrong with this commercial in handy bullet-point form, starting with the bits that are just plain incorrect and working up to the seriously fucked up stuff.

  • All women love chocolate.

No, they don’t. Two wrongs folded into one here: firstly, the stereotype that women are all about the sweet and ‘naughty’ treats; and secondly, that no woman anywhere has an allergy to or just plain dislike of chocolate. The dude flicks bits of his chocolatey nose onto two women’s icecreams, FFS. And this is A-OK because, duh, no woman would ever refuse chocolate for any reason.

  • All women love men.

Chocolatiness = massive sexual magnetism in this ad. Well, even if we accept the above, stupid, premise that all women love chocolate, the fact remains that massive sexual magnetism doesn’t do shit if the person it’s aimed at has the same polarity, if you know what I mean. And yet every woman the guy passes is immediately interested. Nope, there are no such things as lesbians in Lynx-world. Or, failing that, every woman is straight for chocolate.

  • Only women love men.

Following on from the above point, whereby chocolaticity = massive sexual magnetism, there should be at least a few blokes in the masses of people drooling over Lynx Dude’s sculpted chocolatey body. Because, newsflash, some men like men. And also because just as many men like chocolate as women, and if the Power of Chocolate™ can overcome sexual orientation in women, why not in men?

  • Women are sexually attracted to chocolate.

It’s the logical conclusion, and leads to:

  • Women want to eat things they’re sexually attracted to.

We’re like that sort of spider where the female has violent sex with the male and then bites his twitching head off immediately after climax. Totally.

  • Chocolate Lynx turns you into a fixedly-smiling zombie.

The dude’s expression doesn’t change at all. You’d think that a man being gazed adoringly at by women he evidently desires / having bits of his body ripped off him in the street would react in some fashion.

  • Rape and mutilation are hilarious when it’s female on male.

Let’s reconstruct the BizarroWorld version of this advert. Women (at least, heterosexual women) want to attract men, right? So they spray on this body scent that smells like something men are attracted to. This leads, not to romance, but to large groups of random men in the street following her, taking bites out of her and literally tearing her apart. That ad would never be passed for broadcast in a million years, because thankfully, most of society and certainly most ad agencies have got it through their heads that rape and mutilation aren’t funny. But . . .

  • All men want sex, all the time, from random people on the street.

Yes. Because no man has ever turned down sex for any reason ever, or ever not enjoyed sexual attention, even if it was forceful and unwanted. It’s okay to sexually assault a man! It’s okay to bite his arse on the train! Because . . .

  • Wanting to have sex = indiscriminate consent.

Putting on deodorant or perfume (or makeup/a short skirt/high heels/whatever) in the hope that it’ll better your chances of getting laid is just that. It’s an attempt to widen the pool of potential partners, and that’s all. It’s entirely possible that even in that widened pool you won’t find anyone you like. Being prepared for sex – even hoping for and wanting sex – doesn’t mean you have to consent to anyone who offers, just like being hungry doesn’t oblige you to indiscriminately eat everything you see.

Even if you’re in the position of being irresistibly, can’t-hold-still, eye-wateringly pant-wettingly in lust with someone wearing chocolate deodorant (a short skirt, etc.), even if their attracting-people tactic has clearly, unequivocally worked, it’s still not an invitation until they specifically say so. Them’s the breaks.

  • All women will commit rape to get chocolate.

Yeah.

  • All of the above are positive and appropriate viewpoints to express in an advert.

What’s that? Another minute lost on the we’re-screwed clock?

  • All of the above are funny.

The usual defence when ads like this get called out is ‘It was meant to be funny! Why did you have to go get all offended?’ To which the only response is basically ‘Dude . . . if you think that’s funny I suggest you go home and rethink your life.’

Then they claim that it was deliberately unrealistic and meant as irony. This would require irony so subtle most people miss it. If the options are ‘Lynx have suddenly grown up and started taking the piss out of themselves, but done it so subtly it looks exactly like their old stuff’ vs. ‘Lynx are still basically the equivalent of a man with a megaphone shouting ‘BUY OUR PRODUCT AND GET LAID!”, I know which one I think is more likely.

Bleh. Tick-tock.

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    4 Comments leave one →
    1. Seamus permalink
      January 7, 2010 3:24 pm

      I, like most people, am kind of creeped out by that advert, but I disagree with most of your points about why it’s so wrong:

      * All women love chocolate.
      Women with allergies to or plain dislikes of chocolate are very irrelevant here. Any advert showing a whole bunch of people following, I don’t know, the Milk Piper, will neglect the fact that some people don’t like milk. That is in no way offensive. You argue that “it’s meant to be funny” is irrelevant here, but in the same way that Edmund Blackadder tricking his friends into horrible things is not horrifying, the neglect of chocolate allergies is not discrimination here because it’s comedy.
      The stereotype that women love chocolate is a little tired, but you’re pushing this point way too far.

      * All women love men.
      Again, this is an advert, and it’s concerned implicitly with showing the people who love the product, not the people who don’t. The man sprinkling his chocolate nose on the ice creams would be obnoxious in another context, but nobody is taking home the message that it’s alright for men to force themselves on women here.

      * Only women love men.
      I go for this one a bit more, because it reminds me of the scene in Perfume that actually makes me honestly indignant. You seen it? It’s the bit where the guy unleashes the scent and everybody has a big orgy, men on women, women on women, and… no men on men. One can try to justify it by saying that it’s the scent of desire for women that he is unleashing, until one runs up against the fact that it’s making women strip off in public to bonk with men.
      It’s a really annoying scene, and while having a few women in the background go “Well I’m not into that” would be rather ridiculous in this context, the decision not to have any men join the merry dance is discrimination. So this point makes sense to me.

      * Women are sexually attracted to chocolate….
      * Women want to eat things they’re sexually attracted to.
      Again, in the context, this is fine. It’s a flight of ridiculousness, a silly joke. Interpreting adverts literally is a pretty fruitless game.

      * Chocolate Lynx turns you into a fixedly-smiling zombie.
      That’s there to make him look more like a chocolate figure, and also to increase the Uncanny-Valley creepiness of the advert, which is, I’m pretty sure, what its creators were aiming at.

      * Rape and mutilation are hilarious when it’s female on male.
      Can’t argue with you on this one, there are some pretty disturbing implications there.

      * All men want sex, all the time, from random people on the street.
      * Wanting to have sex = indiscriminate consent.
      These two are linked in your post, so I’m going to take them on together, with reference to this advert, which is also a bit upgefucken.
      In the linked ad, a guy has a King-Midas curse that turns everything he touches into Skittles. The ad is about how horrible it would be to have such a power, but you’re supposed to go away thinking, “Although I’m glad I don’t turn everything to Skittles, I am still grateful for my ability to buy and eat Skittles.” At the end of the Lynx ad, the guy’s arm gets pulled off. He’s not an object for envy. You’re supposed to think, “Boy, I wouldn’t want to be so attractive that women maimed me. Still, I’d like to get a little more attention than I currently do…”

      * All women will commit rape to get chocolate.
      Again, interpreting adverts literally is a fruitless game. If I send out invitations to a party saying “Be there even if you have to climb over your mother”, I am not only not advocating climbing anyone’s mother, I am not even hinting that there might be circumstances under which such behaviour would be acceptable. I am simply using the age-old strategy of drawing humour from the idea of unacceptable behaviour.

      I know I’m laying myself wide open here. After all, my argument relies heavily on the “It’s funny” argument that you’ve already identified as unacceptable, AND, if truth be told, I don’t find this advert funny.

      What I am saying is: Yes, I admit that comedy affects the public conscience (this is why I lost my taste for Stephen Lynch), but it doesn’t do so under the same rules as serious discussion. Certain things are recognised to be commonplace in comedy and not to have any corresponding truth in the real world.

      I do agree that there are reasons to get upset about Lynx ads, but stuff like “Women want to eat things they’re sexually attracted to” is too easily recognised as the kind of thing that people only come up with when they’re looking for ways to put something down, not the kind of thing anyone sincerely takes away from such things, either literally or metaphorically. The real reason to be pissed off with this ad, as I see it, is the same reason to be pissed off with all Lynx ads, the reason you point out in your final sentence: it plays on the fears of teenage boys that they will never get laid; it tells them that the smell of Lynx is an infallible way to get laid, whereas Lynx actually smells like a desperate horny teenage boy and is likely to have the opposite effect; it reduces women and men to the level of automatons, seeking to mate, when what our society needs more than ever is the knowledge that there is so much more to life. That, for me, is where the real problem lies.

    2. wickedday permalink
      January 10, 2010 2:49 pm

      I think you’ve mostly got fair points, and yes, if anything I should have been more careful about lumping in stupid (inoffensive) things like the Uncanny Valley Chocolate Zombie (band name!) with the truly unpleasant implications. There are definitely two quite distinct levels of stupid present – the just annoying and the frankly horrible.

      I get where you’re coming from on the point of comedy being generated from ridiculous, including ridiculous-because-unacceptable, concepts. But comedy, especially of the absurd/slapstick variety, depends massively on the mood of the viewer: in the mood to mess around, it’s funny; really not in the mood to mess around, it’s tiresome.

      I guess the thing is this: when something has a demonstrably repulsive viewpoint as its core premise, it just makes the whole thing stop being funny. Silliness isn’t amusing when it’s being used to prop up some really unpleasant assumptions.

    3. The Amazing Kim permalink
      January 11, 2010 1:46 am

      I actually thought that the Uncanny Valley Deliciously Botoxed Chocolate Zombie (let’s see how long we can get this) was referencing the fixed grins of the Nuclear Cadbury Family (can’t find the specific ad, but the soccer version is here.)

    4. Seamus permalink
      January 11, 2010 7:54 pm

      “Silliness isn’t amusing when it’s being used to prop up some really unpleasant assumptions.”

      True dat. I’m so used to hating all adverts I think this effect has turned into background noise for me, but I feel a similar thing on the occasions when a genuinely funny line finds its way by accident into Little Britain, and somehow just makes me hate the show even more.

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