Mainstream ads surprise, disappoint

This week during a chance viewing of Y&R, I saw two very intriguing commercials: Ellen DeGerenes hawking Cover Girl cosmetics and a man dressed as a pregnant woman in a Taco Bell ad.

Ellen, America’s favorite goofy lesbian, is featured in an ad for Cover Girl Simply Ageless makeup with Olay Regenerist serum. Cover Girl has been known to showcase models such as each America’s Next Top Model winner, Rihanna and Queen Latifa. While I was shocked when Ellen came on my TV for a commercial and I about fell out of my chair when I realized it was a commercial for cosmetics. I can’t remember another out lesbian as a spokesmodel for a major cosmetics line. I know RuPaul did the first Viva Glam campaign for MAC Cosmetics,  but to see Ellen, a woman who seemingly doesn’t worry too much about makeup off screen, selling makeup is refreshing. She is one of the last people I would expect to do something like this.

And I suppose if a drug store brand was going to pick a lesbian as a spokesmodel – albeit the safest lesbian in show business – it would be Cover Girl. Their slogans usually try to be more inclusive than other brands, and Queen Latifa – a beautiful, but larger woman – has long been a spokesmodel of theirs. Overall, I am going to say this is a positive move. 

The clip of the commercial below is not the exact ad that I saw, but it was the only one I could find and is close enough. Here is Ellen as a Cover Girl.

In another commercial, Taco Bell is using drag to sell nachos. A man is waiting for another male friend in front of a sporting event, and when the other male friend arrives he is dressed like a pregnant woman. The waiting friend replies “Dude, drag?” and the man in drag lifts up his shirt to reveal a clear sphere showcasing the three types of nachos that can be purchased at Taco Bell for less than a dollar. 

And while I don’t really think Taco Bell was intentionally trying to make fun of drag queens – or in their minds, probably transwomen – it isn’t really funny. It paints drag performers, cross-dressers and transpeople all in a negative light because they are usually viewed as the same by mainstream America. And Taco Bell is saying that their nachos are so delicious and so cheap that they are worth a man giving up his male privilege by dressing like a woman to have. This is extremely evident through the first man’s reaction to the man in drag.

Below is the Taco Bell drag commercial for your viewing pleasure.

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4 thoughts on “Mainstream ads surprise, disappoint

  1. Pingback: Mainstream ads surprise, disappoint

  2. I am very conflicted about these commercials. At first I was upset about Ellen Degeneres in the make up commercial it seemed out of place and just didnt make sense. I always made out Ellen to be kind of butch and not into make up. While I dont want to say that a person who is butch cant wear make up, but it seems like she is the only butch-ish woman and lesbian for that matter in the mainstream and in some ways by being in this make up commercial she is conforming women’s expected gender performance.

    The Taco Bell commercial is complicated as well. For starters I was impressed with the way in which they used they word drag. Not as drag queen or drag king but just as drag. That is the way that we (the queers) use the term drag but i would not expect the general public to understand the meaning of the word drag in the way it was used. Although I supposed when paired with an image of a crossdressing man people would catch on.
    As you stated they are implying that Taco Bell nachos are so good a man would do something as ridiculous as dress in drag for them. But while the friend’s reaction is not positive he does walk into the game with the other person in drag. And this does depict someone who is willing to cross dress. While my argument right now may be dangerously similar to the argument used to support the uninclusive ENDA and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” I think in this case the commercial isnt all bad. It may be slowly introducing the general public to these ideas, and while this depiction is not ideal I think in this case it may be a good starting point.

  3. Random Question:
    I can’t seem to find a place here to have posts e-mailed to me. I see how to put it on digg and things like that, but nothing for e-mail updates. Is that an option here I’m missing? TIA


  4. Pingback: Beth Ditto and MAC collaborate on cosmetics collection | Stuff Queer People Need To Know

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