Among the many wild stories about celebrities, a favorite is the one about Elvis Presley shooting out the TV screen while watching it.
Whenever I used to hear that I’d think, that’s crazy; who would do that? Not me.
Now I am not so sure.
The reason for my ire? A TV commercial.
In it, there’s a babe in her undies while snippets of music play in the background. It’s not her lack of attire that frosts me; it’s the music that makes me glad I do not own a gun. The song is the Shangri-Las’ “Give Him a Great Big Kiss.”
Every time that stupid commercial (I’m not giving the company more publicity by naming it) comes across my TV screen it gets my blood boiling. It couldn’t be further from what the Shangri-Las were. The model isn’t doing anything, as is too often the case in pretty-girl commercials. She’s just lounging there, waiting for the world to come to her. It couldn’t be more passive.
For those too young to remember, the Shangri-Las were a mid-1960s girl group. They were on the cusp of a movement, as women freed themselves from the limitations they faced. Sure, like most pop groups they sang about teen melodrama, but they were the epitome of cool and independence for females of a certain age. (I’m guessing that in reality — since they were young teens at the time — they might not have been that independent, but we loved that public demeanor.)
They weren’t going for prim and proper. They weren’t singing in ball gowns. The Shangri-Las gave off a streetwise, tough persona. (Later, stories emerged that that was done to ward off the unwanted advances of male entertainers.) They’d dress all in black — back then women were discouraged from wearing black unless they were in mourning — or, and oh how we loved this, they would sport leather jumpsuits and go-go boots.
And the words of “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” let you know they weren’t standing there waiting for something to happen. Oh no, as the lyrics say, they’d “walk right up to him, give him a great big kiss.” The assertive lyrics are delicious, a tad dangerous and a lot different from what we were hearing from other female singers then.
So it makes me want to pull an Elvis every time I see this commercial and hear that song. It does what too many do now — presents a plastic, passive female type and pawns it off as an independent woman. This is the visual for female empowerment now.
No, no, no! Much like the Shangri-Las, the independent woman takes matters into her own hands. She does her own thing. She tosses her head back and pretty much says, this is me, deal with it. She is no dolled-up mannequin.
I wish these commercials would back off from the music of cool, independent women of the past. What they’re selling has everything to do with putting women into a mold, much like they were oh so many years ago.
Doing like Elvis doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore.