Ball Washers: No joy (or sex) in dirty balls. What's a guy to do?
Cleanliness is important. Sometimes life and death important. Think Black Plague, leprosy, the bathrooms at Studio 54 in the 70’s. Bathing, cleaning and scrubbing matter. Still, sometimes too much is too much and once again, the teenage finger-sniffers running the AXE brand have taken cleanliness and moved it so far away from Godliness that I doubt even Tiger Woods can still see it. That they did so by perverting the understated brilliance of the classic double entendre is about what you’d expect from a brand dependent on the nervous insecurities of thirteen year-old boys.
Never ones for subtlety, AXE literally dropped their pants when it came to increasing sales of its perfumed body wash. Through the creation of the rather subliminally named “AXE Detailer” (more car wash accessory than anything else) AXE has introduced a sort of loofah/scrub brush in a plastic housing to host its rather gooey soap gel. In my youthful days such an appliance might have been fine for shining shoes or throwing at friends but I am certain “ball maintenance” would have never entered my mind.
That’s right. It’s a device dedicated to cleaning one’s balls. Don’t worry though. AXE is not so crass as to say “balls” (as in testicles) directly. No, no, no. They artfully say “balls” but hold up tennis ones and soccer ones and golf ones to inoculate their potential for giving offense. It’s still dirty of course ‘cause you still get what they mean, don’t you? Noel Coward must be working at Unilever these days.
The commercial itself is done infomercial style. Opening on the expected set a sexy, slightly accented hostess comes on screen to introduce both herself and her co-host (Jaimie Pressly playing an ex- tennis star named Monica Blake) before identifying the important reason for the festivities: clean balls. Cue sophomoric giggling please.
“Monica” comes out and jumps right in. “No one likes to play with dirty equipment. That’s why you have to keep your balls clean.” Cut to young man, nodding interestedly. “The problem is, a bar of soap just doesn’t cut it. See.” Monica then scrubs a dirty, dirty soccer ball. “See, still dirty.” Her not-so innocent co-host poses the inevitable question “So, how can guys clean their balls so they are more enjoyable to play with? Of course, Monica has the answer. “Well, there’s finally a tool that can really get the job done. The AXE Detailer. Cleans your balls.” Cue the polite applause as happy, relieved male faces are seen audience-wide. All business, Monica stays on message. “Let’s start with these small balls.” Monica pours out a huge glop of AXE soap into the soft side of the AXE Detailer. She then soaps up the “golf” balls with the soft side before scrubbing them with the rough side, explaining all the way how easy it is to make any balls sparkly and new. She then hands them to her co-host who ever so suggestively rolls them around and around, and around in her hand, smiling in just the right (read wrong) way. “I could play with these balls all day.” Yes, I bet you could. Cementing the uncomfortableness even further, an old lady in the crowd mouths the words “Me too.” Believe it or not, the spot gets worse from there.
Next we get various audience members offering their specific “balls” to be cleaned. From fuzzy ones to entire sacks full to ancient, old and shriveled up ones – all of which Monica dutifully returns to like-new status. Mercifully, the spot ends on a call to action, offering free AXE Detailers to anyone who calls. (Don’t bother, I did and they ran out months ago).
Now obviously I get the humor here. Rain Man would get the humor here. My problem is what this says about guys. Are we really this focused on our nether regions? Seriously, that kind of deviant attention is almost too disturbing to consider. How much time is the right amount of time to dedicate explicitly towards sanitizing your root and berries? I don’t know officially but more than thirty seconds suggests you might have a problem. That I would need a special appliance (and soap) to properly cleanse them either suggests I’m greeting people by shaking hands with my nuts or using them to make candy apples. I know the trope that guys think about sex every eight seconds or so but damn few of us actually consider that a good thing. Most guys recognize a constant fixation with getting it on is a part of our lower selves to be eventually overcome, not celebrated. Will the world survive if we can somehow manage to lift our focus from our nether regions? I’m thinking yes.
AXE obviously knows their targets well. The fact that they ran out of these ball washers suggests many folks did indeed take them up on their offer. I do suspect though that “free” played a bigger part in their success than they realize. Personally, I would sign up for a home circumcision kit if it was free (and shiny) and I’m pretty sure I’d never actually use it.
As distasteful as this entire episode may seem there just so happens to be a bright spot. You see I’ve learned that recently, a team of UCLA researchers has received over $800,000 in federal stimulus money to conduct a study about teaching uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex. The team explains “The aim of the proposed feasibility study is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a post-coital male genital hygiene procedure, which participants will be asked to practice immediately post-coitus or at least 12 hours after,” If you ask me this has cross-promotion written all over it. Between UCLA’s commitment to global cleanliness and AXE’s need to sell soap I’d say uncircumcised African men are getting set to have a ball.