Burger Pornography Starring a Former Vegetarian

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In a new commercial for Hardee’s “Western Bacon Thickburger,” Padma Lakshmi, former vegetarian and current host of reality TV show Top Chef, strolls through a farmer’s market and takes up residence on an urban stoop.  She takes a burger out of a fast food bag and opens her mouth wide.  Lakshmi  pulls up her dress and seems to be enjoying herself thoroughly.  She licks sauce from her fingers and legs.  A bit of sauce (“that sweet, spicy sauce”) splatters her cheek.  Tag line of the commercial? “More than just a piece of meat.”  I’m pretty sure that refers to the burger, not Lakshmi, but it’s difficult to say.

The ad is, to put it mildly, an extreme example of “sex sells.”  To what extent does the ad reflect the influence of pornography?  But for the widespread availability of pornography, would we have a commercial like this one?  Is it not just sex that “sells,” but a certain kind of sex that sells?  What’s the difference between sexy advertising and what seems to be pornography-influenced advertising?  Is there any difference between, say, the  Hardee’s commercial and, say, the  Enjoli  frangrance commercial from the 1970s (“I can bring home the bacon.  Fry it up in a pan.  And never let you forget you’re a man.  ’Cause I’m a woman. Enjoli.“)?

I think they have more than just a bit of bacon in common.

-Bridget Crawford


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