I suppose you’ve seen this Taco Bell ad by now: Two dudes are sitting on the couch, one slightly older, one slightly younger – probably brothers, definitely bros. Older dude tells younger dude that there are three rules by which to live: Real men don’t own lap dogs, never date girls with dragon tattoos, and always – always – chili on your Nachos Bell Grande. A woman with dragon tattoos enters, hands older dude a lapdog, and tells him it needs a bath or something. Devo’s “Whip It” makes a musical entrance, with Mark Mothersbaugh intoning, “Crack that whip!”
What’s the moral of this commercial? 1) Girls have vaginas, therefore they can make you do the opposite of your beliefs. 2) Mark Mothersbaugh has lost track of his artistic integrity.
Devo’s aesthetic was to always – always – act contrary to “corporatism.” Hell, even “Whip It” is a satire of the absurd things that we do because marketing firms tell us they’re good for us. That’s why I find it curious that Devo have abandoned their anti-corporate ethos for the benefit of the atrocious Yum! Brands, which owns such delicious, healthy and humane endeavors as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silver’s along with Taco Bell. To compound the insult, they did so for a flatly sexist TV commercial.
Of course, Mothersbaugh and Devo aren’t the first band to dash the opposite direction of their original (ostensible) anti-corporatism. In fact, they’re not even the first to do it for Taco Bell.
(I don’t even know if this is the first laughable cash-in that Devo’s done, but that’s hardly the point.)