Thursday, March 08, 2012

Johan the Plumber

When the rest of socially-liberal American womankind was still worried that we were looking at a Santorum presidency (or are we still?), I wasn’t too personally concerned - concerned, yes, but not for myself - because I had the good sense to marry a bona fide EU citizen. If the Santorum were to hit the fan, I’d have an out. Yes, liberals hated Bush and threated to leave the country on account of him. But this time it’s gender-specific. Liberals don’t fear Santorum. Liberal women (and gays, obviously) do.

Which explains, I think, the new set of Gevalia coffee ads, being aired on Hulu if not elsewhere. The concept is that a “Swedish” man named "Johan," representing European “caffe” (or “kafe,” or whatever “coffee” is in that pan-European coffee-commercial language immortalized in Dunkin' [typo fixed, thanks Jo!] Donuts ads as “Fretalian”), compares himself favorably with “Joe” – American coffee – who we are to understand is a regular American dude off-screen. In the ads, Johan goes around seducing, flustering, regular American women. He is Johan, and he wants to rub your feet and give you cinnamon buns, or something. 

There’s of course nothing new about the idea that American women would prefer a foreign guy, one who perhaps doesn’t choose his clothes based on what will make him look unequivocally heterosexual. (Even out gay American men do this. It’s just the guiding principle behind how American men dress.) What is new is, dude’s usually either British or maybe French or Italian (“perhaps Fretalian”). If not Hugh Grant or Prince William, the European is a Latin lovah. 

Here, however, Johan is Swedish, a representative of reassuringly socialist Northern Europe, not Berlusconisville. If you go off with Johan, think of the subsidized childcare! Or, if you don't want a kid just yet, think of how no-big-deal it will be to get birth control! You and Johan don't even have to get married, because that's how they roll. (OK, this last bit isn't going to fly with American women, both because it's been drilled into our brains to value marriage, and because we want legal residency status at the very least, which cohabitation probably wouldn't accomplish.) 

How very wise of me, I thought, as the national conversation disintegrated into a discussion of whether a woman must take a special contraceptive pill every time, and whether 95% or is it 98% of American women are in fact prostitutes, to marry a Jo and not a Joe.


mark jabbour said...

Hey Pheobe, just a note to let you know I am very much enjoying reading your posts. Peace & cheers,

Sigivald said...

That ad is not just on the internets, I've seen it on Food Network.

And it's ridonkulous.

Britta said...

Well, part of the problem with Swedish men, is, so the inter-Scandinavian stereotype goes, is that they're all gay. There's a reason Swedish women have to look elsewhere for lovers :P