What would you write for Klondike bar?

I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial for Klondike bar that made me spit out my drink. Then, in the next commercial break, I saw a second Klondike ad that made me want to hurl. The ads were part of their well-known “What would you do for a Klondike bar” campaign, but they were just awful.

In the first ad, the thing that this guy would do for a Klondike bar was listen to his wife for five seconds.  No, really.  He listened to his wife speak for five seconds, a feat of endurance so bold and daring that he deserved a Klondike bar as a reward. In the second ad, two men held hands for five seconds. Another feat so bold and daring that they deserved a reward. What was going on here?

You can watch “The Good Listener” and “The Hand Hold” on the Klondike website.

I did some quick scanning on Youtube and found some older ads along the same lines:

(Note: Why is this woman reading a magazine standing up in the kitchen? Is she allowed to leave?)

And this one.

Really, Klondike?

I grew up eating Klondike bars. They were my dad’s favorite, and since my dad was pretty much the coolest person I knew at 6 years old, I figured they must be pretty great. Watching these ads now, as a Klondike-lover and self-actualized woman, I feel betrayed. How long has Klondike been peddling sexist, homophobic drivel before I noticed?

The most frustrating part is that “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” is potentially a really great ad campaign idea. Think of all the wacky things that people might do for this tasty treat! But instead of taking advantage of the many creative ways you could answer this question, Klondike is falling back on tired stereotypes, trying to “reach” their male audience by portraying men as  boorish oafs, insensitive jerks, irresponsible babies, or homophobes. Nice, real nice.

I don’t really have much else to say. Criticism of these ad tropes is out there and available (check out coverage of recent yearsSuperbowl ads) and I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said before by Sarah Haskins.

Instead, I’m writing this from a place of  disappointment and betrayal. Brand loyalty is a real and powerful thing, and it hurts when a company you always liked lets you down. Of course it’s naive to expect that companies will be ethical, or that their branding choices will align with progressive values. So I guess this is just another one of those “innocence lost” situations. The glorious ice cream bar of my childhood is now forever tainted.

What would I do for a Klondike bar today? Nothing.

Why I love Veronica Mars

This weekend I rewatched the first season of Veronica Mars, one of my all time favorite tv shows.  Veronica Mars, which aired in 2004, is about a teenage girl trying to solve the mystery of her best friend’s murder.  Veronica assists her father as a private investigator and puts her sleuthing skills to work to help classmates at school while she continues her murder investigation in secret. Veronica Mars is completely badass and as good of a feminist role model as you are going to find on television. I made the video below as a tribute to Veronica Mars.  It’s a compilation of scenes from the first season that illustrate why I think she’s so kick-ass.

Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency made a great video explaining why she loves this show. She makes a lot of great points, and while I’m not going to repeat them all here, I would like to expand them a little bit.  I’m also not going to discuss the show as a whole and just focus on Veronica and why I think she’s a great role model for teenage girls.

1.  Veronica Mars is smart.  She’s in the top of her class and manages to keep her grades up despite her time-consuming detective work.  She’s not afraid of technology, using advanced cameras and spy gadgets and the like. She uses her wit to solve problems, resolve disputes, and find the truth.  She’s also not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.

2.  She apologizes when she makes mistakes.  Veronica Mars is not perfect. Sometimes she goes too far and she invades a friend’s privacy or betrays someone’s trust.  She always apologizes sincerely – a vital social skill that is often overlooked.

3. She doesn’t compromise on her ideals.  The series begins after Veronica is cast out of the popular crowd because she and her father refuse to accept that the man who confessed to the murder was really the killer.  After a year of bullying at school, she is given the chance to admit she was wrong and sorry and rejoin her old group.  She decides not to, saying that she didn’t feel “the least bit wrong, or sorry.”

Occasionally her grasp of right and wrong can seem a little too black and white.  For example, when her father tries to explain that her mother’s reasons for leaving are complicated, Veronica says, “No. The hero is the one who stays, the villain is the one who leaves.” This kind of “all or nothing” morality  is problematic but feels realistic because it helps remind us that, despite her maturity, she is still a teenager.  Still, it’s heartening to watch her resist peer pressure and stick to her guns despite whatever effect it may have on her social life – something that is rare among teenagers on TV or in real life.

4.  She sticks up for the little guy.  Along the same lines as #3, Veronica stands up for people she sees getting bullied.  I cannot stress enough how incredible this is.  It takes a lot of guts to stick your neck out for someone else, and it’s something that does not happen enough – especially in high school.

Veronica’s story in the first season is very much a coming of age story.  The murder of her best friend and rejection by her peers is a huge turning point in Veronica’s life as she loses her innocence and struggles to rebuild her identity as a strong and independent young woman. Her story is complex, yet relatable and instructive. It has so much more to offer than the simplistic morality lessons on other teen dramas like Secret Life of the American Teenager or Glee.

I sincerely recommend that you watch the first season of Veronica Mars, and share it with your kids if you have any.  (The second and third season are terrible, but the first season can stand on it’s own.)  We need more shows on television with female characters like Veronica.  And, it would be great if Kristen Bell could find some equally awesome movie roles.  It hurts to see our beloved, sharp-witted Veronica fall into the “pretty blonde” rom-com void a la Katherine Heigl.

So, here’s to you, Veronica. Let’s hope we see some more like this on tv soon.

Next on Teen Mom: Amber punches Gary in the head

*********Please read my follow-up post about the full episode and MTV’s response to airing footage of domestic violence.*********

MTV, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do.

Last year, you showed a clip of Snookie (Jersey Shore) getting punched in the face by a guy in your “coming next week” clip. There was outrage. The scene was not shown again, and the episode was followed with information about violence and assault.

This week on Teen Mom, you showed a clip of Amber punching her baby’s father Gary in the head. She punched his head into a wall.

Where is the outrage?

So far, I have not seen anyone being upset or making waves about this. Where is the uproar that we saw when Snookie was punched?

We already saw Amber physically assault Gary in the first season of Teen Mom (video). We also learned (although we didn’t see it happen) about when Farrah’s mother attacked her and was arrested for domestic assault. These incidents created a bit of a stir, but nothing compared to the Snookie punch.

I would venture a guess to say that people got up in arms about the Snookie punch because it was a man hitting a woman. In the case of Teen Mom, it is a woman – a young woman – hitting a man.

Although it’s admittedly problematic to place value judgments on “kinds of violence,” I would argue that showing domestic violence on TV without any comment on it is much worse than showing a bar fight. The Snookie punch was the result of a drunken fight among strangers. Amber’s punch is evidence of ongoing, escalating, domestic violence – an issue that is frighteningly common, and about which many are ignorant.

Amber has custody of their daughter Leah. Gary, the victim of Amber’s abuse, has begun to vocalize that he does not feel it is safe to leave Leah with Amber after she kicks him out during a fight. In this week’s episode, after she screams in his face and threatens to punch him – her fist coming within an inch of his face – he does, in fact, take the baby with him.

This situation is fucking scary. Where are the PSAs? Where is the outrage?

When I did a Twitter search for “Teen Mom punch” the only results I got were other viewers saying they would like to punch Amber in the face, or that Gary should punch Amber in the face. There IS a need for domestic violence education, and MTV is once again, being irresponsible. This is a perfect opportunity to do some real, meaningful work around relationship violence awareness – one that I fear will be a missed opportunity.

The only reason MTV censored the Snookie punch and provided educational info after the episode aired, limited as it was, was because of pressure from public outrage. We need to put that pressure back on MTV to make it clear that the kind of domestic abuse and violence we are seeing on Teen Mom is NOT OKAY, and that it is irresponsible for the network to air it without providing educational information about violence.

Please help by spreading the word about this. Facebook it, Tweet it, get the big blogs like Jezebel and Feministing or news sites to cover it. Share this blog post or write your own.

This type of violence should not be aired on MTV without educational information to put it in context. Help spread the word – to MTV and everyone else – that domestic violence is wrong, even when the attacker is a woman.

*********Please read my follow-up post about the full episode and MTV’s response to airing footage of domestic violence.*********