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Paul Feig

Paul Feig

Posted: June 10, 2005 02:19 PM

Wow, talk about an about-face!

Many years ago I was a working actor and appeared in several TV commercials. And one of those was for Carl's Jr. This was back in the late 1980s when the head and founder of the company, Carl N. Karcher, used to appear in the commercials at the end saying whatever tag line the writers had written for him to sell their hamburgers. But Karl was a very religious guy, so much so that he handed out anti-abortion pamphlets on the set, as well as other religious literature. I was also told that at the boardroom table, a seat was always left empty next to Karl and was known as "God's seat." (Apparently Karl sat at the head of the table and God's seat was the first one along the side of the table - prompting a friend of mine to remark, "Don't you think that God would want the seat at the HEAD of the table?") But Karl seemed like a nice guy. He was just really devout.

So, having switched on the TV the other day to see Paris Hilton writhing around half-naked with a hose while basically having oral sex with a Carl's Jr. hamburger, I had to wonder if Carl was still in charge of the company. If so, that's one of the biggest about-faces I've ever seen in the world of devoutness. A visit to the Carl's Jr. website brags to us that in the 1990s "Carl's Jr. makes a name for itself with memorable commercials that appeal to young, hungry guys." They have a frame from a commercial I remember well (having been a sort of young and hungry guy back then -- okay, I was in my 30s but that's young compared to someone in their 60s, right?) in which a very sexy woman shot with very sexy and orally fixated camera angles is eating a burger, which then drips ketchup onto the breast-covering area of her blouse. Clearly appealing to the libidos of guys has been doing something for the company profits ever since then.

And if Carl is no longer in charge of Carl's Jr., I have to imagine that the guy can't be very happy about all this. I just have to wonder how he (assuming he is still with us on this earth) or his family are feeling about this new turn of advertising events. Does profit trump one's religious beliefs? If an ad campaign designed to get guys so sexed up that they'll run out and eat a huge hamburger results in towering profits, do you not worry about the cultural ramifications of putting something this suggestive on during the hours that kids might be watching the TV? Not being a cultural warrior, I could care less about the ad, although I do find it a tad disturbing on a personal level. (I'm not sure what my thought process is supposed to be from that ad - a sexy exposed girl writhing sexually and making love to a hamburger is supposed to make me want to have sex or simply go out and eat a giant glob of meat? It's like when I go into the men's room at a restaurant or bar and there's sexy pictures of girls in bikinis up on the walls. Is the message from the restaurant that I'm supposed to masturbate while I'm in there?) But I'm just more in awe that a company that was founded by a really religious guy is now known for titillating ads.

If anyone knows if Carl is still in charge of the company, let me know. Because that would be amazing.