By Sarah Purple, NCSE Intern
As sexual exploitation becomes more and more mainstream, it has even become a part of one of America’s favorite pastimes – the Super Bowl. In the past, both commercials and halftime shows have become more and more sexualized (I’m sure we all remember the Janet Jackson incident). This year’s game, occurring this Sunday, February 1, will feature a particularly pornographic ad for Carl’s Jr., a fast food burger joint which also happens to be on National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Dirty Dozen List under CKE Restaurants for its sexually exploitative ads in the past. But should families really be forced to watch soft porn during the Super Bowl?
The commercial, which may only be shown on the West Coast, features model Charlotte McKinney going “au naturel” while walking through a farmer’s market, with strategically placed items covering up her more private areas. To be fair though, hardly anything is kept private in this racy ad. At one point, a tomato covering her buttocks from the camera’s view is not so subtly pinched, suggesting the desires of all the men stopping to gawk at her. Another clip shows two melons on a scale as a stand-in for her breasts. At the end of the commercial, while seductively chomping down on a burger, the model is revealed to actually be wearing a pair of short shorts and a skin-colored string bikini top.
Her “au naturel” look is used to sell Carl’s Jr.’s all-natural, grass-fed beef burgers, blatantly comparing Charlotte McKinney to a piece of meat to be consumed, to be used. During a family event such as the Super Bowl, it is abhorrent that the NFL would allow such a lewd commercial to be aired. TIME calls the ad “perhaps one of the raciest and most juvenile Super Bowl ads ever.” While the model seemingly enjoys the attention and smiles at the pinching, the underlying and incredibly dangerous suggestion is that women enjoy this type of treatment and objectification.
With a significant backlash from women against exploitative ads during the Super Bowl in the past, it’s a wonder that the NFL has not learned its lesson by now. The backlash against Carl’s Jr. has already begun, with many Twitter users tweeting hashtags like #CuttheCarls and #MorethanMeat to show their disgust with the restaurant chain’s consistently degrading commercials. Many family-friendly organizations are taking a stand against the ad as well, with Melissa Henson of Parents Television Council writing, “instead of appealing to their customer’s brains and convincing them of the superiority of their product over their competitors,’ they are aiming for the groin, selling the women as sex objects instead of the hamburgers.”
At a time when the NFL is making efforts to crack down on their members who have assaulted women, it is ironic that they would encourage the exploitation of women by showing this commercial during the Super Bowl. The American Family Association encourages contacting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to urge him to reject the ad “in favor of respecting the value of women and protecting families who will be watching the Super Bowl.” Take action by contacting Goodell here and use the Twitter hashtags #CuttheCarls and #MorethanMeat to stand against advertising that treats women as sex objects. Also, learn more about the sexual exploitation committed by CKE Restaurants and the other offenders on National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Dirty Dozen List.