My warped decoding of the Chevrolet commercial, “Like Father, Like Son”

[NOTE: Chevrolet, to their credit, has since edited/updated this commercial. Details are in my 12/4/11 post.]

I fell on my head too many times as a child. See UC run down the steep hill where he lived. See UC’s feet go out from under him. See the back of UC’s head bounce on the hard sidewalk. 

Sharing this warm childhood nugget should explain a lot regarding this blog and the pain I feel when I obsess about some trivial detail most people let go, but I can’t.

Case in point: the Chevrolet commercial below. Please check it out, or everything I write won’t make sense, though it may not make sense anyway – no guarantees.

What did you think? Cute, huh? That’s what I thought at first. The innocent little boy playing with his truck reminded me of moments I had as a child playing with my Hot Wheels cars, driving them over our black lab. I had Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys and Barrels of Monkeys, too.

Such a wonderful scene. Watching it made me feel so all-American that a piece of Apple pie I ate when I was 10 years old came back up my food pipe.

But something about the commercial didn’t ring true to me – a wrong note in the score, a scratch on the record, an image out of place. This is why I paused the football game and watched it again.

First, there is the purple-haired doll, which the little boy appears to be helping to move her pretty-pony horse trailer. What a nice young man, but that is the price you pay for owning a truck. You become the moving company for your friends.

"Why doesn't he love me? She's no good for him. She's mean, mean, mean. I'm the one for him. Can she see in the dark?"

Back to our purple haired sprite with the bowling ball head on a broom stick of a neck. She represents the girl we males were friends with when we grew up. A tomboy, our fun neighbor, which is reinforced by the friendly language the boy uses to say, “thank you.”

She’s nice, but she’s not the marrying type or the one you’re going to want to go home to. Nope, despite being cute, fashionable and an entrepeneur with her own stable of magic ponies, the purple hair, giant head, and genetically-deformed cartoon eyeballs kill her chances of being a serious romance.

She is the girl you confide in, share your love of another woman with, open your heart to and thank for being such a good listener. No matter how much she longs for the dude who drives the truck, she has no shot.

That’s because the young dude who drives the truck has a whole lotta woman back at the ranch.

"Did I tell you to take the bag off your head?"

Oh, and she looks anything but happy, despite the boy pretending to be her and saying, “hey, honey, I’m glad you’re home.” Her expression betrays this and says she knows – they always know – he was out helping Ms. Pretty Pony tow magical horses.

I mean, I get it. As a caveman, I understand.

Drive the Silverado and you’ll go home to a very tall woman wearing a skin-tight top, camo Daisy Dukes, big boots and a holster-like garter belt. And she will take you into the house and hurt you to an inch of your life, and you’ll have to wear turtlenecks in the 100-degree heat of the construction site for the next week while your buds ask why you’re dressed like that and walking funny.

So, I have to ask: Why couldn’t she wear a white doctor’s coat? Or a business suit and carry a briefcase? Or be a successful rockstar and have a tattoo and hold a guitar? Or not have proportions impossible to achieve for 99.9 percent of the women on this planet?

And it made me wonder why my wife has never greeted me at the door dressed like this? Is it because I don’t drive a Silverado?

Or could it be because she’s too tired after working all day looking at spreadsheets and unsexy Excel formulas and taking care of our daughter?

I’m thinking Halloween will be very different at our house this year.

My to-do list:
1. Search Lara Croft costumes on
2. Rent a silver Chevy Truck
3. Call my Doctor and beg for a Cialis prescription
4. Rent two bathtubs so my wife and I can bathe separately and look at the sun set over the power lines in our backyard

Clearly going to college and raising a daughter has screwed me up. And I’m no angel with thousands of years of male genetics working on my feeble image-sensitive brain each day.

However, if there is a bright spot in the portrayal of female dolls in automobile commercials, one need only look at the original Nissan Z commercial with GI Joe driving across the floor to steal away the yuppy Ken’s honey, who makes an amazing transformation from repressed Barbie to Tawny Kitaen in a Whitesnake video. Two-timing Barbie doth not a role model make (Shakespeare).

I look forward to an ad agency making a commercial using a realistic looking female doll to drive the truck. Then, with a Lady Gaga song blaring, she drives home to discover Kenny, her unemployed construction worker boyfriend – he can’t find work in the recession – in a dirty tank top barely covering his belly, sporting baggy white Jockey shorts, and holding a bong in one hand and a hammer in the other because he’s demolishing the workout room to build a man cave.

It would be at this point in the commercial I would hit pause on the remote, lean over and tell my daughter this is why every woman should own a truck. It makes it much easier to pack up your stuff when it’s time to move out.

13 thoughts on “My warped decoding of the Chevrolet commercial, “Like Father, Like Son”

  1. I laughed all the way through this, you’re right, how often do we watch those commercials and just see what they want us to see? A cute little boy playing, rescuing damsels in distress and waiting for his real-life daddy (and Chevy) to come home? Adorable.But look a little deep and whats the sublingul message there?

    I could get all ‘back masking’ on you (Remember the Christians in the 80’s told the world that KISS and other bands like it were recording messages into their music telling us to have sex with Satan or some other such nonsense? But it only came out when you played the message backwards – right, cause that’s how I play ALL my music.)

    I digress.

    The real point in all of this is that I think the guy in the other commercial was a Thunderbird. Anyone who watched Thunderbirds at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning as a child, knows that those guys with their turtle necks, weird voices and bobbing heads were NEVER going to be cool. If a red Nissan can do that for a Thunderbird, what can it do for you?

    • Karyn,

      You and I may not agree on Halloween, but we also don’t agree on the GI Joe/Thunderbird argument. Everything lists the doll as GI Joe, but I don’t think it is a true GI Joe or Thunderbird. It’s in-between the two, something they must of created for the ad. Oh, and a Thunderbird doesn’t need a car like that to attract a Barbie. They have the cool without the metal.


  2. Good grief. It’s a wonderful and sweet commercial where finally a man/dad/husband isn’t portrayed as an idiot, and where a boy clearly looks up and wants to emmulate his dad.

    • HC,

      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it many ways. First, I agree with you. The commercial can be read in the way you described. I feel there is more at play beneath the surface that isn’t so innocent. And second, guess what, if you hadn’t written me, I might not have noticed that Chevrolet has changed the commercial and blurred the image I had an issue with and added a more realistic female image at the end. Stay tuned. I’m going to write about it tonight.

      Thanks again,


  3. I thought it was about the oddest commercial I’d seen with a myriad of connotations that I didn’t like. I didn’t understand why they even made the commercial.

    Yes, I could see the simple, on the surface, “like father, like son” message, but I, too, believe it runs far deeper and I don’t like it one bit!

    • Valerie,

      You right about it being an odd commercial. I guess that’s why I wrote about it. Something about it rang false to me. I was talking to a good friend about it and we both agreed that in a 30-second commercial every image is chosen carefully. So, some of the choices they made were good and some not so good. I feel it contained a subliminal undertone to it that played against the core theme of like father like son. The new version is better. No angry Lara Croft doll to kill the happy mojo of the commercial.

      Thanks for the comment and visit. Much appreciated.


  4. Pingback: Chevrolet edits “Like Father, Like Son” commercial | The Unknown Cystic

  5. What a bunch of politically correct pap. The men who drive trucks stopped watching this commercial once Lara was censored. An obvious example of the feminization of America.

    • Realtime,

      That’s one way to look at it. I understand the use of sexuality in car advertising and advertising in general. It works on me many times. But sticking it in a child’s play area to sell trucks? Sounds like a miscue to me.

      Thanks for the POV on this one.


  6. “So, I have to ask: Why couldn’t she wear a white doctor’s coat? Or a business suit and carry a briefcase? Or be a successful rockstar and have a tattoo and hold a guitar? Or not have proportions impossible to achieve for 99.9 percent of the women on this planet?”

    A questions for the ages, UC.

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