Irony, Plain and Simple
This commercial, amongst other things, is lampooning the stereotype of the “gold digger.” A “gold digger” is a young woman – usually blonde, usually large-breasted, and always attractive – who marries a wealthy man whom she doesn’t really love in order to benefit financially. The specific type of “gold digger” featured here is the one who marries a very old, very wealthy man who has a very good chance of dying in a short time – thus making her his financial heir.
Nothing is wrong with lampooning this social phenomenon – it is despicable behavior that deserves to be derided – but observe something interesting: the “actress” (using that word quite loosely) who plays the “gold digger” in this commercial is, by her mere participation in this commercial, communicating to everyone else that she too resents such women. Her message is that while she may, in fact, be exceptionally good looking, unlike the majority of women with her appearance, she is unwilling to use her good looks to acquire what she doesn’t deserve. She would rather work (ie: act) for a living – thus leaving her beauty as a value to be enjoyed privately (ie: not something to be made into an asset and exploited).
Is she unwilling? Contrary to the impression this particular woman wishes to give, the fact remains that she is in this commercial because she is pretty. Now, it is true that the commercial would not work if someone who was playing the part of a beautiful blonde wasn’t actually a beautiful blonde, but then the question becomes: should this commercial actually work? Should she regard this as a legitimate thing for her to help come into existence?
Consider what is being sold: satellite television. The purpose of advertising is, fundamentally, the communication of information – from producers to consumers – so that consumer’s rational needs and wants may be more efficiently satisfied (or discovered, and then satisfied). Specifically, the purpose of satellite television – the purpose of any type of television – is to inform and entertain. In short: to enrich the lives of those to who consume it. Is this commercial respectful of that fact? No, instead what it is doing is exploiting the fact that there are, in fact, a huge number of people who value television completely out of proportion to the value it provides them (ie: it is, for them, an irrational desire). What this commercial is essentially doing is telling those people that it is okay that they hold this irrational value (usually in the form of a subconscious habit, but that is irrelevant). The advertisment’s overarching message is “you don’t have a TV problem. If you had a TV problem, you would be doing clearly insane things like celebrating at the reading of the will of a loved one, or feeling happy about being bequeathed something of little value while you were ignored in regards to the high-value things. You’re not doing that, thus, you don’t have a TV problem.”
To put it another way, DirecTV, with this ad, is attempting to use the exact same sort of psychological manipulation that a “gold digger” type woman uses to get something she doesn’t deserve from her rich, elderly husband. What this company is doing, instead of selling products that are rationally needed or desired – and only products that are rationally needed or desired – is “marrying” (ie: entertaining) it’s own “old man” (ie: it’s irrational customers) in hopes that those customers will “bequeath to them” (ie: become contractually obligated to pay) more money than what they’re giving up is actually worth.
The blond “actress'” participation in this commercial is, ironically, exactly the same sort of behavior she is implying that she despises. The only difference in her case being that instead of the “sugar” coming from “daddy”, it’s coming from a large corporation (and ultimately it’s psychologically-ill clientele). If she really believed what she obviously wants to believe she believes, she would have never participated in such a commercial – no matter how much she might suffer (financially) as a result of the fact that there are not very many places where their looks will be irrelevant and beautiful woman will ever be treated with the equanimity that they deserve. There may not be many, but there are some – and that is where a woman who was truly what this woman fancies herself to be would actually be.