On Monday, the Twitter account for candy brand M&M's announced that their omnipresent anthropomorphic candy, uh, "spokescandies" would be taking an "indefinite pause" from their advertising duties after conservatives had gotten extremely upset, yet again, over alleged "wokeness" on their candy packages.
The proximate cause of this freakout was, and I'm just going to pause here and take a sip of water while we all contemplate that these are paragraphs that are now genuinely appearing in front of our eyeballs in the year 2023, newly introduced limited-time "Flipping the Status Quo" M&M's packages containing only the colors of the ostensibly-identifying-as-female subset of imaginary candy people. Proceeds from the packs go to a set of women and gender-expansive nonprofits. Mainly, the packages are a way to boost sales by appealing to both people drawn to that message and obsessive collectors who would insist on buying up the packages because that is what certain people do in their free time.
Conservatives, however, considered novelty packs of all-"female" candy colors(???) a brain-melting indignity for reasons I couldn't begin to tell you. No, really.
After a hell of a lot of the most bizarre screeching you've ever heard in your life, M&M's is now allegedly putting all their imaginary sentient gendered candy people on hiatus rather than offend the Fox News hordes who absolutely REFUSE to put candy in their mouth unless they can be SURE those candies have imaginary testicles.
Now, I can tell you right now that this "pause" is not going to happen. It is a gimmick. An extremely money-liking candy company saw an opportunity to draw out a news cycle into a looooong toffee string of public attention and seized it. We'll get to that. First, however, an eyeball-invading primer on how we got to this point.
Basically, Fox News' Tucker Carlson has been in a weird sexual war with these candy packages for an entire godforsaken pandemic year now. It started out when, and this is a real damn thing, Tucker had a televised professional snit about the sexiness of candy mascot shoes.
Tucker's ire, and the ire of a great many other conservatives who had absolutely no other more pressing political interests in our post-attempted-coup, pandemic-ignoring nation, was because the Green M&M had switched from go-go boots to sneakers, the Brown M&M switched from stilettos to more practical heels, and this made the candy MUCH less sexually appealing and how the hell is this a sentence we are writing. This has been going on for a whole year and I don't think any of us still grasp that Tucker Carlson and his ilk were absolutely enraged when they found a brand of chocolate snack candies to no longer be sexually arousing.
Tucker's conservative take on this issue of national importance: "M&M's will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous, until the moment you wouldn't want to have a drink with any one of them. That's the goal. When you're totally turned off, we've achieved equity. They've won."
It seems genuinely possible that Tucker and his writing staff had been staking a sizable portion of their identities on the theory that, if the opportunity arose, they could totally pick up a drunk candy in a bar and take them home for an evening of sexual pleasure. This is a thing. The notion that our American candies need to be gendered, and that they need to be sexually "appealing" rather than "androgynous," and that you need to be able to put moves on them at your local bar—all of that swiftly became enshrined in the new conservative Constitution that none of the rest of us know about or are allowed to read.
Also, the news that Tucker Carlson is a feet person, or at least a shoe person, is pretty much the only remaining thing you could imagine about him that would make him even more creepy. He was very mad about his candy not wearing boots. Very mad. And the odds are good that M&M's could have made this whole thing go away a year ago by mailing him a pair of tall white boots and telling him that the Green M&M had just taken them off and wanted him to have them as a keepsake.
But no. No, this war would continue. Fast forward almost exactly one year, to our current month and crisis, and Green M&M has her boots back AND NOW THAT HAS MADE EVERYTHING WORSE.
His confusion is palpable. "The green M&M got her boots back, but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe?"
"And there’s also a plus-sized, obese purple M&M, so we're gonna cover that, of course..."
Yes, the Green M&M and the Brown M&M have been pictured sitting together, and Tucker Carlson immediately perceives this to mean the Green M&M is not sexually available to him, a perfectly normal thing for a wealthy conservative political pundit to Get Mad About.
He waited all this time for her to come around only to find her holding hands with someone who is not him. And wait, why are we body-shaming a Purple M&M, one that ... appears to have the same body proportions as every other anthropomorphized spokescandy of the "peanut" gender?
HOW HAS OUR POLITICAL PUNDITRY MANAGED TO GET TO THE POINT WHERE WE ARE FAT-SHAMING IMAGINARY CANDIES AND GETTING MAD ABOUT THE SEXUAL AVAILABILITY OF THE ONES WITH SUPER HOT BOOTS. WHY IS THIS A THING. HOW CAN WE SIMULTANEOUSLY BE IN CRISIS BECAUSE CONSERVATIVES NO LONGER RECOGNIZE THE LEGITIMACY OF AMERICAN ELECTIONS AND BE DISCUSSING WHETHER TUCKER CARLSON FINDS HIS CANDY F--KABLE.
Sorry, sorry. Calming down now. Give me a moment.
Oh, while we're calming down please note that our current conservative meltdown (hee hee, candy pun!) came about because of a candy brand stunt featuring only alleged female-presenting candy coated chocolate orbs. Just look at them! Conservatives may never be able to achieve sexual pleasure again, not after getting these looks:
Just look at em. Having eyebrows. Bein' sassy.
Now let's get back to the point we made before. The M&M's candy spokescreatures are not going anywhere. Tucker Carlson and conservatives are being pranked. By a candy company. Again.
The first clue that the Mars candy company's announcement is not sincere is ... the announcement. It reeks of the sort of sarcasm that conservative television addicts cannot generally parse but which the rest of us are generally wise to. I mean, please.
America, let's talk. In the last year, we've made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren't sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn't think it would break the internet. But now we get it—even a candy's shoes can be polarizing. Which was the last thing M&M'S wanted since we're all about bringing people together.
Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies. In their place, we are proud to introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: the beloved Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.
This is not the statement of a defeated advertising campaign. This could have come from The Daily Show's writing room. The shoes reference. The "break the internet" language—coming from a corporate advertising account that, like all others, claws for any chance to "break the internet" and gets bonuses every time it manages. And, indeed, another of the snarkier Mars brands almost immediately weighed in with faux grief of their own.
But there's also the minor detail of M&M's having a long history of Super Bowl promotions. And Maya Rudolph being an already-confirmed part of this year's Super Bowl ad campaign.
Maya Rudolph is currently known for playing Vice President Kamala Harris in recurring Saturday Night Live bits and is described by one marketing professor as brand-appealing because she is "someone girls and women look up to" and is "really inclusive." Not exactly the top name you'd think of if you're trying to make peace with (shudder) the world's Tucker Carlsons.
Oh, and the entire M&M's Super Bowl ad campaign is likely already either in the can or close to it; the company isn't going to shelve that kind of massive expenditure based on Tucker Carlson getting angry about an alleged candy lesbian. Are you kidding? This sort of controversy is gold.
Finally, there's the little detail that Mars has already been teasing what the Super Bowl ad campaign will look like, and anthropomorphized gendered candy spokescreatures are front-and-center.
We're not alone in betting that this whole Mars stunt is a lead-up to a Super Bowl ad that takes Green's too-sexy boots and metaphorically shoves them up both of Tucker Carlson's nostrils. Slate is almost certain of it. MSNBC's Hayes Brown thinks Mars will be reworking its whole campaign to gently make fun of its performative detractors.
That's less likely. Remember, these big Super Bowl stunts are the product of marketing teams that make more money for this one campaign than you or I will ever see in our lives—campaigns that have to be approved by some of the stodgiest corporate number-crunchers megacorporations are able to hire. The script for this whole ad campaign was in the bag (another candy pun!) for months now.
We can come to no other conclusion, then. Conservative men have been furious over an imaginary candy spokesperson trading in her so-sexy boots for sneakers. They got mad again when the boots came back but two of the sexy candies were seen SITTING TOGETHER on a BENCH. Tucker himself is now reduced to insulting the candies he believes would not go out with him.
And, unfortunately, it's looking like this whole thing is going to end with the revelation that Tucker Carlson has been catfished. At the Super Bowl. By candy. That may or may not turn out to be Maya Rudolph all along, or something.
We live in very bad times, America. Times so bad that it is impossible to fully describe them without future historians dismissing it all as somebody's too-vivid imagination. But I can promise you, Tucker Carlson is never, ever going to have sex with those candies, and at some point he is either going to accept that or will show up at the Mars corporate offices with a boombox and tears in his eyes.
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