In 1956 Elvis Presley caused a scandal when he gyrated his hips to "Hound Dog" on The Milton Berle Show:
Outrage swiftly ensued. The New York Daily News declared that his performance was "tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos." One viewer, a high-school teacher, wrote to Mr. Berle:
Elvis Presley presented a demonstration which was in execrable taste, bordering on obscenity. The gyrations of this young man were such an assault to the senses as to repel even the most tolerant observer. ... We ... can do very little to offset the force and impact of these displays in our efforts to stem the tide toward a cultural debacle.
This past week, some 57 years later, six handsome men gyrated their hips on television, causing another ruckus. This time the tune was "Jingle Bells," and the hunks were jingling their balls in a Kmart commercial:
The organization One Million Moms called the ad "ridiculous and disgusting" and protested with some good ol' 1950s moral outrage:
Kmart (Sears Brands, LLC) has a new commercial that is not only offensive -- but this once family department store has made a deliberate decision to produce controversial advertisements instead of wholesome ones. This is a terrible plan on Kmart's part, especially at this time of year!
The title of the current ad is "Show Your Joe," and Kmart includes sexual content during a Christmas hand bell choir performance. The commercial focuses on several men wearing Joe Boxer underwear thrusting in a sexualized way to the tune of Jingle Bells. They start gyrating and shaking themselves instead of the hand bells, intending to make their "bells" ring in song -- which is highly inappropriate.
In the 57 years between Elvis' performance and the Kmart commercial, much has happened that these concerned moms seem to have missed. The sexual revolution. The Beatles. The Stonewall riots. Fear of Flying. Cher's belly button. Studio 54. Rob Lowe's sex tape. Gary Hart's Monkey Business. Lorena Bobbitt. Heidi Fleiss. Bill Clinton's cigar. Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. Brokeback Mountain. Fifty Shades of Grey. Miley Cyrus naked on a wrecking ball.
The world of One Million Moms excludes sex and sexuality. How exactly did they become moms anyway?
One Million Moms' bold website headline reads, "Kmart Continues to Cross the Line." They are incensed that the "commercial is airing during primetime, even during Christmas movies on family networks such as the Hallmark Channel, which families will likely watch together."
This is some of One Million Moms' deductive reasoning:
- Christmas + Hallmark Channel + family = wholesome
- Handsome hunks + boxer Shorts > the line
- Bells + balls = inappropriate
- 2013 = 1956
Ladies, I hate to burst your one million bubbles, but your children do not live in the 1950s. When Elvis bumped and grinded his way onto TV screens, his performance was a genuine shock to the staid, sanitized pop culture scene. But in 2013, a group of men shaking their way through a Christmas carol is a yawn. Is this commercial worth your outrage? If you manage to remove it from television screens, do you honestly believe that you are keeping your children safe from a sexualized culture? Really, it's the mild homoeroticism of these jingling bells/balls that ruffles your feathers. Anything homosexual seems to bother you. Last year it was Ellen DeGeneres as JCPenney's spokesperson. Do you think that your protests will shield your children from finding out about homosexuality? Wouldn't your time be better spent shielding your children from real threats to their livelihoods, such as poverty or prejudice or poor education?
The brains of these moms must have been cryogenically frozen sometime in 1955 and thawed out just the other day. However, I suspect that their children's brains are firmly set in 2013. What are the million (or more) kids of the One Million Moms thinking? They must be confused. Or frustrated. Or embarrassed.
As of this writing, over 10.8 million people have viewed Kmart's "Show Your Joe" commercial on YouTube. Sorry, moms, but your kids have probably already seen it. Maybe you should take a good look at that Elvis video. You see the girls squealing in delight in the audience? That might be your daughters' reactions to the Kmart commercial, and -- gasp! -- some of your sons' reactions too.
Follow Domenick Scudera on Twitter: www.twitter.com/domscud