In case you've been living under a rock for the past few hours today, you've probably seen that the Internet is absolutely buzzing over a new Super Bowl commercial, and by buzzing, I mean they're pretty much freaking out. However, I don't think they're freaking out for the right reasons. Sure, Terry Crews wears a dress in this new Old Spice ad, but like... what about the crazy violence that's in there, guys? Why does Crews need to explode three times and slice himself up three times?
Personally, I'm already pretty terrified of razors after Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and one particularly stressful scene from The Color Purple , so it's not surprising that I am disturbed by the images in this advertisement. Look, I love Terry Crews, and firmly believe that if you aren't watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you're missing out on one of the strongest sitcoms on air. However, in my opinion, this Old Spice ad should have done a lot differently: The only "plot" of the commercial, really, is that Crews is having a series of dreams in which he is his own scene partner... and includes him decapitating himself with the electric razor presumably to restore the space time continuum. (Am I putting too much thought into this? Probably.)
Even stranger, the official description for the ad on YouTube reads as follows:
"Unruly face hairs lead to unruly face-hair children, and so on. Help break this vicious cycle with the Old Spice electric shaver."
I didn't see any "unruly face-hair children" in the commercial, did you? What are they talking about? What even is a well behaved face-hair child? What is going on? Anyway, you can watch the commercial here, if you dare:
What's even stranger, though perhaps not all that surprising, is that the majority of the response to the ad had been to call out the fact that Terry Crews wears a dress. Like, how is that the most shocking part of this commercial? It's just a dress.
On the other hand, I do like the studio applause after the "punch line," as though the commercial is mocking old sitcoms. Sure, I get that it would be a nightmare to have married yourself! Like, what a boring marriage. (Then again, I think I'm pretty awesome so it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.)
Still, why is "Terry Crews wearing a dress" really the takeaway here? Here are a few of the tweets and comments, for context:
That last tweet does bring up a very good point. There is a disturbing trend in popular culture with men of color dressing in drag for comedy — something which Dave Chapelle famously described to Oprah Winfrey. Now, if that were the conversation being had about the Old Spice ad, I would be okay with it, because that is definitely worth examining. However, most of these comments seem more to be falling for the "shock value" of seeing Crews wearing a dress rather than fact that he also literally tears himself to bits, and that's unfortunate and wrong.
Granted, some of the responses address the general weirdness of the ad rather than any particular element:
I guess if a razor is strong enough to cut off your limbs, it'll work on your face — so I suppose that's the message, right? I get that Old Spice is advertising to specific demographics, but still: I don't understand why shaving needed to be depicted as such a violent event as well.