I don’t see many TV commercials anymore – thank you, DVR – but it was hard to miss the new since-gone-viral Old Spice ad during the NFL wild card playoffs earlier this month.
The spot features moms of teenagers who blame Old Spice’s new body spray for turning their baby boys into men. The ad has been dubbed “creepy” in most quarters, what with various moms spying from behind doors, clinging to the back of their son’s moving cars, hiding in curtains and under couch cushions while their boys are on dates after using the body spray.
Still not quite sure what to make of the one scene where a mom turns around and appears to be as one with the front of a school janitor’s body. Creepy, indeed.
The spying and riding laundry baskets behind cars aside, I feel their pain.
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My son is 15, and while I can’t blame Old Spice personally for his impending manhood, the commercial struck home, nonetheless.
Good thing the ad is comical; otherwise, it would send me crying into my pillow like that old long-distance phone commercial from the 1980s – back in the stone age when long-distance calls couldn’t be made for free on our cell phones. The mom told her shocked husband that she got a long-distance call from her son. Why? “He said, ‘Just because I love you, Mom.’ ”
Cue mom tears.
Heck, I was probably in college and a long way from feeling anything near maternal when that commercial aired, but I remember getting seriously choked up every time I saw it.
Moms and their boys: always good for poignancy. But the Old Spice commercial plays it for yuks.
“Old Spice sprayed a man onto my son, now he’s kissing all the women and his chores aren’t done,” the moms sing. “He was just my little sweetie, tiny fingers, hands and feeties, now he’s touching, kissing, feeling all the women because of Old Spice!”
I’m not sure what to be more concerned about – male body sprays or teenage girls.
The new commercial comes at a particularly timely point. It’s hard to believe my son was in footie pajamas and falling asleep on my lap every night when I started writing this column – last week, he got his driving permit.
He’s still young enough that the girlfriend aspect of the commercial isn’t what pierces my heart (yet!); it’s the whole prospect of baby boys growing up and not needing their mommies anymore. My son’s driving permit marks a lamentable milestone – we have some of our best conversations when we’re driving around town in my car. In a few short months, he’ll get his license and that will be gone for good. He won’t need Mom to take him anywhere anymore.
Cue mom tears, Part II.
But here’s a public promise to my boy: I won’t hide behind his door or peek through the couch cushions or do any of that other creepy spying stuff when he has a date over.
But I might cling to the back of his car when he drives off to college in a couple of years.
That laundry basket idea is pretty ingenious, actually.
‘Real World’ still exists?
MTV’s “Real World” returned Wednesday with a bit of a reboot of the long-running show that started the whole reality TV thing. It also returned to the city of what’s regarded as its most important season – Season 3, taped in San Francisco.
I was a huge fan of the show back in the 1990s, even though I was past the target audience age. It was the first real foray into reality television and started out as a fascinating social experiment to watch what happens during “the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped.”
The housemates were diverse – ethnically, in their sexuality, physically and personality-wise. That’s what made the show so intriguing.
Then, sometime around Season 12 in Las Vegas, I gave up on the show for good. The cast long since had gone from a featuring a true cross section of “real world” 20-somethings navigating life and morphed into supermodel types whose main interests were sex, six-pack abs and binge drinking. I actually stuck with it longer than I should have. It had started going downhill by Season 5 in Miami, anyway.
It was another sad sellout by MTV to show off beautiful people behaving badly. It wasn’t a social experiment anymore, it was a train wreck.
Honestly, I didn’t realize the show was still on the air.
But stories started crossing the wires the past couple of weeks about the return – Season 29, in fact – and the big twist the producers have thrown in to try to reboot the franchise. The cast mates return home to find their ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends have moved into the house with them. Drama, no doubt, ensues.
That it’s returned to San Francisco, the site of the season that many believe to be the zenith of the show’s existence, kind of puts salt in the wounds of those who recall the original, earnest even, intent to put young people with differing backgrounds in a house together and watch as they were forced to confront their own ideas on adult issues like politics, race, sexuality and more.
The first San Francisco set was in 1994 and featured a cast that included 22-year-old Pedro Zamora, who was HIV-positive. Zamora humanized the AIDS crisis for viewers. He died from the disease hours after the season finale aired.
Sadly, this new San Francisco “Real World” experience doesn’t sound like much of an homage to that season or the original intent of the show.