When you see a beautiful woman straddling a vibrating mechanical bull, what’s the first idea that pops into your head? Is it, (a) the woman is training for a rodeo, (b) something related to sex, or (c) a big, juicy fast food burger?

Most likely, the majority of you chose (b), right?

It’s only natural. After all, we’re biologically designed to procreate; it’s no wonder that the image of a woman straddled over a huge, vibrating machine evokes some sexual ideas. But what if this particular image was designed to sell fast food burgers? You’d probably laugh, unless you’ve already seen the new Carl’s Jr. advertisements that have graced our television airwaves.

Over the years, Carl’s has continually pushed the envelope with their TV ads. Recent TV commercials depicted voyeuristic young men ogling an attractive young woman, waiting to see whether she would drip burger sauce on her white dress. Their slogan was: “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.”

Commercials also depict unkempt, ill-mannered young men voraciously eating burgers, dripping sauce on their clothing, with a slogan of: “Don’t bother me, I’m eating.” As we mentioned above, their most recent ad depicts the image we created for you – a young woman eating a burger and dripping burger sauce all while riding a mechanical bull, with sensual background music extolling the joys of “riding.” Right now, you can watch this ad on their website at www.carlsjr.com. They’re obviously proud of their TV commercials.

But that’s not all. In addition to the sex-oriented advertising, Carl’s took its food-sex connection one step further by hiring Hugh Hefner, a man known for his infamous connection to Playboy magazine.

Carl’s is apparently quite proud of this accomplishment, touting Mr. Hefner as a “pop icon” and describing continuing efforts to appeal to males aged 18-34. Naturally, the majority of you probably don’t think of this advertising move as a disgrace. You might even find it amusing or interesting to watch the “sex king” eat oozing hamburger.

So, if you’re asking what’s wrong with Hugh Hefner as a spokesperson, you may need to think again. Ask anyone who marched for the Equal Rights Amendment. Ask anyone who worked to overcome the exploitation of women so prevalent in earlier decades. The founder of the Playboy Empire is an inappropriate icon for a restaurant chain that not only is designed for adults, but for kids as well. Bet the men in charge didn’t quite remember that when they appointed Hefner to sell their kiddie meals.

Suddenly a kiddie meal isn’t just about getting the free toy; it’s a step toward manhood. If the sex “icon” gets all that good lovin’ and eats Carl’s Jr. hamburgers, then eating those same burgers must put a kid on track to similar rewards. It’s a basic correlation for a kid to make.

And yet, in spite of all this, the Carl’s website has the audacity to state that Carl’s Jr. adheres “to the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit guidelines.”

Sleepy, complacent generation X-ers can let it all pass, but years from now when we’re parents, who knows what we’ll need to explain to our kids about TV commercials? “Oh, honey, the spokesperson in that action toy ad is a convicted serial killer from earlier in the century. But he’s so funny when he plays with that toy!”

Each commercial aired by Carl’s Jr. further progresses its attempts to exploit women and promote sex. The choice of Hefner evidences that it will proudly continue in its efforts, all in an apparent effort to reach its target market. If this is the direction we are headed in, imagine the possibilities of what could follow. It won’t just be sex-oriented advertising or hiring sex “icons” as spokespeople.

Before we know it, our children could be opening up their kiddie meals to find a nice condom in place of their condiments. That would sure sell those burgers, wouldn’t it?

Shawn Nielsen is an undeclared freshman and Natalie Spritzer is a freshman biochemistry major.