All the focus on the infamous Peloton stationary exercise bike commercial may say more about us than it does the ad itself, which may be the result of “resting panic face.”
In a segment on the ad and a subsequent Aviation Gin commercial that played off it, MSNBC anchor Kendis Gibson noted that “nowadays, in our cancel culture, we look out for the negatives in things.”
The gin ad was a play off the notion that the wife in the ad was the victim of an abusive husband with unreasonable expectations on appearance, and author and cultural critic Brittany Cooper was OK with that presentation.
“The new ad is fun. That’s exactly where I would be, at the bar,” Cooper said. “Because the pressure on women to be perfect, to be thin, to meet the societal ideal, I think that’s worthy of critique.”
“I’m sorry Peloton is going to be the straw man in the argument,” she said. “But I think exercise culture more broadly needs to be critiqued.”
Cooper went on to make fun of herself for being overweight and complaining about fitness, noting that she does exercise.
Remarkably, since the ad was released and tagged as sexist, Peloton’s stock plunged 15% in three days last week, wiping more than $1.5 billion from its market capitalization, according to Business Insider.
But Vox Media host Liz Plank was not as offended by the Peloton ad, attributing much of the umbrage to what she said was the resting face of the actress in the commercial.
“I know I already have a lot of enemies. I thought the ad was fine,” Plank said. “I didn’t have that much of a problem with it. Maybe because I heard about the backlash before I saw the ad. When someone shows you the meme and you expect it to be so funny.”
“I think we’re projecting a lot of things on the ad,” she added. “Nothing in the ad talks about weight loss or is necessarily her husband saying she needs to look different. She just has this panicked face because some of us just look that way. Some of us don’t have ‘RBF,’ we have ‘RPF’ — resting panic face.”
Cooper interjected to say Plank was “being way too generous about this. What we see in media tells us about what is possible.”
“This weekend my women’s studies class, I have my students doing a critique of media representations of bodies,” she said. “We have young people struggling with eating disorders because they see a culture of thinness. The other thing they want in that ad is that story: you want to come downstairs with a pretty man, beautiful baby, beautiful suburbia.”
“I’ll take it!” Gibson chimed in.
“I’m not hating, I just don’t want to have to get on an exercise bike to do it,” Cooper countered.
The MSNBC anchor mentioned that the ad sent Peloton’s stock tumbling, before commenting on the actor who played the husband.
Sean Hunter found himself thrust in the center of a social media firestorm after being cast as the villain by hypersensitive critics who saw him as an abusive husband forcing an already rail-thin partner to lose even more weight for his own gratification — this being ascertained in a 5-second appearance.
In today’s cancel culture, Hunter spoke with Psychology Today about the fall out from the commercial and worries about the impact it may have on his day job as an elementary school teacher in Vancouver, Canada.
“I think the Ryan Reynolds response was worth the backlash,” Plank said, making light of the situation.
“It was absolutely,” Gibson replied. “We’re all on board. If they want to give us the gin, we’re cool with that.”
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