Ellen puts on her pretty face, sells it and nails it

Posted at 12:00 PM Jul 01, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

Ironic selling of makeup is still selling of makeup, CoverGirl. So yeah, I get it, and I'm totally falling or not falling for the new Ellen Degeneres "Simply Ageless" ad, depending on whatever attitude is supposed to make me want to buy the makeup in the first place. Is that confusing? It should be, a little, because as Sociological Images notes, Ellen's ad is a little confusing:

This is certainly a CoverGirl attempt at self-deprecating irony, which is a pretty good way to sell something when you're a giant conglomerate beauty company looking for new ways to hawk your wares in an increasingly self-referential, irony based media sphere.

Ellen is pretty and funny, and like butch news superstar Rachel Maddow, (who is also pretty! HOW CAN IT BE!?!? THEREISONLYONEWAYTOBEPRETTY BRAINSPLODEOMGOMGOMGOG) she has to wear makeup on television. (Just like, as Maddow has noted in interviews, dudes do as well.) So I think it's neat that, if she wants to, she can have a pass to sell cheap, non-obnoxious foundation to people who are probably interested in cheap, non-obnoxious foundation. I happily place myself in this category as my makeup interests lie mainly in eyeliner, so foundation is almost always an afterthought.

As far as the whole gay issue, it's surely not an accident that they chose a lovable lesbian to make fun of beauty culture, particularly in our Maddow moment. I do think it would be more satirical--if perhaps not quite as haha funny--if they'd gotten a gal like Jessica Alba to do it. Still, the commercial reveals to a larger public that there's more to being a gay woman than wearing Birkenstocks and carrying messenger bags, that there can be makeup and dancing and pretty and smart and gay and silly and whatever-you-like, all in one package. Still, that package is selling makeup, so ...


BorgQueen said:

I think the ad itself is successful because it plays to Ellen's strengths, namely her sarcastic, goofy, offbeat humor and doesn't just put her in the same airbrushed-soft-lighting-breathy-voiceover formula that 99.9999% of makeup ads are these days.

Jessica Alba can't do much more than pout and bat her eyes at the camera so I disagree that putting her in this role would be "more satirical."

Ultimately though, it is an ad selling makeup so you do have to take it at face value (pun intended).

Jack Olson said:

Love your website and your views, Heartless. A note on usage: When you hock your wares, you borrow against them as in a hock shop. When you hawk your wares, you try to sell them.

Andrea said:

Agh! Well, it's not like I'm a writer who should have caught that or anything. Thanks. :)

Jack Olson said:

I'm a proofreader, I can't help it. Trust me, you're better than the lawyer who wrote me that his profession has cannons of ethics and the English professor who commented on Shakespeare's ability to construct a play around an antidote, or the secretary who wrote that the Christmas dinner would feature pasties.

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