The 2018 Super Bowl means a football game and an exciting halftime show, but more than that, it means advertisements: funny ones, weird ones, and memorable ones. Whether they're memorable for good, bad, or awkward reasons is always a toss-up, and the last one seems to be the case with the Kia Super Bowl 2018 commercial. Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that a young Steven Tyler looks like James Franco in the ad, and once you see it, you can't unsee it.
The comparison is a strange one, but it's also all the more uncomfortable, considering James Franco has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, specifically in the wake of his recent #TimesUp support (which some have deemed hypocritical). Franco has denied the allegations and told Stephen Colbert,
"The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn't have a voice for so long. So I don't want to shut them down in any way. I think it's a good thing and I support it."
One of Franco's accusers later tweeted that he called and offered a tepid "apology" over the phone. With all this in mind, the ad may make you feel more uncomfortable than the car company ever intended.
In the commercial, Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, hits a race track to test the new Kia Stinger. Challenger Emerson Fittipaldi is ready for him to take off, but the singer surprises the driving icon by throwing the car into reverse. Smoke billows as Tyler drives backward in time, eventually emerging from the car as the spry, clear-skinned rock star of his youth. And you will do a double-take, because the young Tyler could easily be played by Franco. It's clearly not him, though, as the whole ad is about feeling like the younger, more vital version of yourself. Also, the screaming hordes that run toward the youthful Tyler are obviously '70s-era Aerosmith fans.
As these fans run screaming toward the now-young Tyler, the slogan "Feel Something Again" comes across the screen. They likely mean, "Feel young and invincible and in your prime again by driving our new car," but the truth is, you probably won't know how to feel about any of this, specifically Tyler exiting the vehicle as a smooth Franco-type.
How is it possible that he looks that much like Franco? What is it about him? The narrow eyes, or the full, wide mouth. Is it the vibe? Can a digitally edited person in a car commercial somehow have the same vibe as a modern-day celebrity? Based on this advertisement, the answer is officially yes — a weird, confusing yes.
Even people on Twitter noticed the similarities in their appearance long before this commercial dropped. Basically, it's just an awkward coincidence that their faces look so similar, but people have been pointing it out since at least 2016.
For the record, AdAge reported that this is a digitally altered Steven Tyler in the ad. So no, it's not actually Franco, but no one would blame you for initially thinking so. This just shows the magic of editing, which allowed them to basically Benjamin Button the Aerosmith singer. And to make spotting the comparison that much easier, just look at the facial structure in the screenshot below.
At the end of the day, Franco is not in this Super Bowl commercial. But that doesn't make the connection any less awkward for viewers. And chances are, you won't be able to unsee the similarities now either.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.