I dislike mass advertising, and I especially loathe the use of music that once had some political or social meaning, or tried to, to market commodities like candy bars and cars, or services like insurance. Even I have to admit, however, that the Burger King Texas Double Whopper TV commercial is attention getting, clever, and timely.
The long version starts with a young man and his date in a pricey restaurant as a server places before them a salad consisting of a couple of leaves and garnishes. The man stands up and marches out, singing, “I am man” to the tune of Helen Reddy’s feminist standard, “I Am Woman” (“I am woman/Hear me roar/In numbers too big to ignore/And I know too much to go back and pretend/’cause I’ve heard it all before/And I’ve been down there on the floor/
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again”). As he walks along asserting his manliness and need for real food, he is joined by men of all ages, races, and occupations, who add their voices to his. The mob pushes an SUV off an overpass onto a truck that a sweaty, red-faced, bald strong man is pulling — with a Texas Double Whopper as his “carrot.” The effect of the music, the men, and their enthusiasm for food is both funny and exhilarating.
The irony is, of course, that the song that declared female power and wisdom in the 1970s has been twisted to assert male emancipation from female ideas of diet inspired by the male desire for slender females. And to sell burgers so high in fat and carbohydrates that they are bound to contribute to a heart attack or two.
All that irony makes me hungry.