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Home > Media

Paris snatch

29 June 2005

What could be more American than a big car, a girl in her undies and a coronary patty between two sesame seed buns? Possibly only the Parents' Television Council, whose doomy slogan is 'because your children are watching', and whose mission is currently to stiffen the nation's resolve against soft porn being used to sell burgers.

One look at www.parentstv.org and you realise these people are way beyond our own mewing Mediawatch. They 'monitor, videotape and analyze the moral content of every minute of prime-time entertainment programming on all six broadcast TV networks and select cable channels'. Now that's commitment to the rounding up of every stray buttock and each wandering exclamation of
'asshole'. Curiously, they are neither definitively right-wing nor actively Christian. They're just intent on keeping America in the swaddling clothes of the 1950s, when everyone ate apple pie for breakfast and had nothing in their knickers besides washing instructions.

Shocked-and-appalleds are periodically mobilised to bombard TV stations and sponsors with hanky-dabbing tirades of squealing family outrage. Previous campaigns include rages against Sex and the City and brilliant cop show The Shield. The site lists in ostensible horror examples of profanity, sexual behaviour and other dirty-bird antics, but with a barely-contained dribble of
lasciviousness. Presently, they are after Paris Hilton, or rather burger-merchant Carl's Jr.

'Warning - this ad is extremely graphic and sexually explicit', shrieks the link to the Carl's Jr ad. Before you all brain your own mothers in your haste we can tell you, it really isn't. It is as explicit as the average episode of Hollyoaks. It involves an heiress getting a bit soapy. Not spunky. Just soapy. Of course it's manipulative and tacky. All the advertisers have done is plonk a few surefire elements together and congratulate themselves with another huge line. It's not so much the familiar fantasy image of semi-naked woman washing car - that's been a staple since the first showing of Cool Hand Luke - but the fact that no one, nude or not, has ever washed a car with one hand and held a giant flopping burger to face with the other. Think of the suds seeping under the top bun. And the melted cheese on the newly-waxed bonnet. But then, given that the tagline is just 'That's hot' - well, it's justifiable in an ultimate-employment-
of-cliché kinda way.

You can argue there's something pretty off these days about hooking up sexual desire with the lumbering, wheezing beast of fast food. With America finally opening its bleary eyes to the state of its over-indulged stomach, you'd think that Carl's Jr would show a little more self-awareness if only for a quiet life. So if banning things was your bag, you'd certainly have cause to have a go here. But the PTC are just concerned at what will happen to your children if they set eyes on a wriggling blonde, not how fat they're getting sitting in front of the TV while doing so.

What the pressure group have failed to understand is that no man living has any real desire to skewer Paris Hilton. She is so curiously sexless, so viciously vapid, so waxy and calculating and blank, that you might as well show a traffic cone parading around in its pants. This is what makes her perfect for anyone's brand - she is the personification of modern marketing. She's a walking billboard for herself, and you can paste whatever you like on her for a fee. The loophole that Carl's Jr are cleverly exploiting is that although you appear to be watching a writhing woman, it is in fact a state-of-the-art girlborg - no more corruptive of a nation's youth than a whirring fax machine.

So complain about it because of its suggestive nature - suggesting that burgers keep you skinny, that burgers get you pussy, that high-pressure hoses are a bit rude hur hur if you think about it. Boot it from primetime because Paris Hilton has had more than enough exposure for one lifetime, projecting the kind of contrived pseudo-liberated female image that makes the rest of womankind gag as if on a stray gherkin. But don't rage against it because of your own inability to deal with your rogue trouser stirrings as you sit in the bosom of your nice morally-upright family. And for chrissakes, don't come over here and get into the whole Pot Noodle Horn thing. That sort of giggling ASA-mooning, taste-barrier-smashing silliness is just what keeps families together.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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