Puritans Get Their Panties in a Bunch

crucible“For an erection lasting more than four hours.” Every day on TV, in day-time and prime-time, on weekdays and weekends, this once-titillating phrase is uttered quite casually by an off-screen narrator in advertisements for Cialis, a “daily use” medication to assist men with “erectile disfunction” to get it up on a moment’s notice. (They should have called it Boing!)

In 2014, it is not only common, but impossible not to hear and see a tumult of references to sex, sexy people, sexual activity and sex, and more sex. What would have appalled uptight parents, teachers and clergy in 1950s, and perhaps drawn censorious condemnation from government officials, is now commonly displayed on billboards, the sides of buses, in movies, and yes, even magazine covers. In a world in which the Discovery Channel airs a survivor-like reality show where intrepid contestants are dropped naked into a jungle and followed around by a camera crew; where cartoon kids from a place called “South Park” frequently spout “goddam it” and call each other “assholes”; where grocery stores offer “Cosmopolitan” magazine at child-eye-level with its cover advice on “75 sex moves men crave” – is it possible that modern mothers can still get outraged over a picture of a scantily-clad woman?

This Calvin Klein ad caused innumerable cases of angina in the 1980s.

Apparently so. Recently Land’s End, the purveyor of white, middle-class preppy clothing, luggage, and home furnishings, offered its customers a complimentary copy of the July issue of GQ magazine – and from the immediate outrage it stirred up, you’d have thought Lands End sent out DVDs of “Deep Throat.” In fact, the cover of GQ features nothing more than actress Emily Ratajkowski wearing a Hawaiian lei over otherwise (shame!) bare breasts.


Here are some of the complaints registered with Lands End, whose CEO Edgar Huber quickly kowtowed by admitting “a mistake” and announcing the delivery of a replacement magazine – “Conde Nast Traveler” (let’s hope they’re not doing a cover feature on Bali this month.)

“My 14-year-old son brought in the mail today & was quite disturbed & fascinated by a ‘gift’ Lands’ End sent us — a copy of GQ magazine with an absolutely OBSCENE cover!!!”

“I am appalled that Lands’ End — which I have always thought of as a ‘wholesome,’ family- oriented company — would be the one to expose my son to pornography!”

“We received your ‘Lands’ End Bonus’ of GQ magazine this weekend, and we are absolutely horrified. How can buying something as family friendly as school uniforms lead to soft porn in the mailbox? I’m thankful my son did not bring in the mail.”

“I ordered Christian private school children’s uniforms from your company and you sold my home address to a magazine company that peddles in soft porn for men???”

(Although I didn’t read all the complaints, I noticed that none of the outraged mothers were concerned for their daughters. Only adolescent sons appeared to be in mortal danger of spying the cover.)

Do these mothers not realize their sons have already been masturbating to internet porn for three or four years? And that they’ve been sexting with friends since they received their first smart phone? And that they’re probably close to surpassing their Puritan parents in the number of times they have sex each week?

Memo to Lands End: given the nature of your customer base, consider adding chastity belts to this year’s school uniform collection.

Speaking of Cialis

The guys in the Cialis ad aren’t having trouble getting laid because of E.D. – they can’t get laid because they’re downright creepy. The way they awkwardly close in on their wives and girlfriends at odd moments indicates latent perversity at best. The worst is the fellow with the thin grin who just finished tennis doubles and makes a clumsy move to plant a sweaty kiss on his partner. Damn yuk.


In real life, for these two to consummate, the pill in question wouldn’t be Cialis . . . and it wouldn’t be taken by the man.

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