Helen Mirren: The Cross Super Bowl Mummy With Drunk Drivers
Among the do-good commercials in Super Bowl 50 this past weekend, I was most put out at the one featuring British actress Helen Mirren telling people not to drink and drive.
I wasn’t peeved because I think you should be able to drink and drive– putting drinking and driving together is stupid. (I’m so against drinking and driving that as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin, I once broke up with the most beautiful man, just because he insisted that he could drive between Austin and San Antonio completely blotto without crashing and that it totally wasn’t a problem. It was a problem!)
My problem with this Super Bowl spot is because Budweiser is placing the moral compass for what you need to do to not be bad person (a bad person who drinks and drives) within the stern mummy stereotype. After all, Mirren introduces herself as a “A notoriously frank and uncensored British lady” at the start of the advert for responsible adult behavior.
This is the way that conservative religious views have long looked at women, as being responsible for the morality of those in their home. That’s the same underpinnings where women get advice like “How to Help and Alcoholic Husband Stop Drinking.”
In this highly regarded spot, Mirren praises those who manage to not drink and drive, “Your friends and family will thank you…Your future self thanks you.”
If Helen Mirren had ended the spot with, “Don’t drink and drive, or Mummy will be very cross with you and give you a spanking.” I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.
You shouldn’t drink and drive, but those old enough to legally drink in the USA shouldn’t need a lecture from cross mummy about how to be a grownup.
While pondering this commercial on social media, my longtime friend Amanda Babcock Sweda wondered if this commercial featured someone British, because Americans seem to take direction or “schooling” better from Brits.
I joked that this was the “Mary Poppins effect” because of the cultural deference to the authority of the proper British nanny.
Sweda replied with the link to the 2015 video explaining consent via cups of tea, saying that both she and a friend liked the one with the British accent much better than the same video using an American voice actor.
You can compare the American and British versions of the “Tea Consent” videos below.
Maybe willingly taking direction from British women is the same reason why my husband has his sat-nav set to a British accent?
Or maybe it’s just part of the trend of British phrases creeping into American media?