CULTURE

Super Bowl Ad-pocalypse: Return to the Charmin Bears' Assh*le Inspection Hellscape

Actual humans are being subjected to assh*le inspection by what is almost certainly a fascist regime of cartoon bears.

Procter & Gamble

While the footballs at the 2020 Super Bowl were certainly nice, every mindless consumer knows that commercials are where the fun and excitement really lie.

But as nice as it would be to just sit back and enjoy all of the brands paying famous actors millions of dollars to tell us what to buy, as a professional Doctor of Commercial Studies (D.CS), it's important to me to dig deeper into the trends currently permeating the ad space. Why? Because I paid a lot of money for this fake degree, so I might as well put it to good use. More importantly though, there's a storm brewing in the world of mass media advertisements.

Of all the commercial-related dissertations I've written, none have brought me closer to the maw of insanity than "The Assh*le Inspection Hellscape of the Charmin Bears Commercials." A deep dive into the history of Procter & Gamble's Charmin toilet paper commercials revealed a humanoid bear-populated dystopian America wherein the entire system and culture––social, political, and sexual––revolved around inspecting assh*les for little chunks of toilet paper. Ultimately, I posited that through their attempts to normalize the nonexistent concept of "assh*le inspection," the psychopaths at Charmin were attempting to turn their sick fantasy into a reality, most likely in order to sell more Charmin brand toilet paper. Now I fear that the 2020 Super Bowl commercials have proven the truth to be worse than I could even have imagined. One might even call it...the Ad-pocalypse.

Before we can discuss the looming Ad-pocalypse though, we must first travel back to May 25, 1988, the air date of the final episode of the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere. An otherwise standard medical drama throughout its six season run, the series finale baffled viewers with the reveal that all of the show's events took place within the mind of a young autistic boy named Tommy Westphall. Such an out-of-left-field reveal would be disturbing on its own, but St. Elsewhere did not exist in a bubble.

Tommy Westphall NBC

Rather, a number of characters on St. Elsewhere had made guest appearances on other TV shows whose characters, in turn, had appeared on even more TV shows. Thus spawned the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis. First proposed by comic book/TV writer Dwayne McDuffy, the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis suggests that if St. Elsewhere existed solely in the mind of an autistic boy and the St. Elsewhere characters had appeared on other TV shows, then that would imply that all of these TV shows exist in a single connected universe made up by the same autistic boy. When fully worked out, this connected universe encompassed roughly 90% of all TV shows at the time.

This establishes precedent. If we accept the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis, then we also accept that when two characters appear within a canonical crossover, those characters must exist within the same universe––henceforth known as the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis Theorem. Which brings us back to the 2020 Super Bowl commercials.

Brand crossovers seemed to be the name of the game for commercial marketers this year. A bizarre commercial for Sabra hummus featured WWE superstar Ric Flair, drag queens Kim Chi and Miz Cracker, Megan Thee Stallion, a bevy of TikTok stars, and most importantly, Chester Cheetah from the Cheetos commercial. Considering the fact that Ric Flair seemed to be appearing as his wrestling persona, this means that Chester Cheetah exists within the same universe as the WWE.

Similarly, the Walmart spot featured aliens and space-farers from fun franchises including Star Wars, Men and Black, Toy Story, The Lego Movie, and also Arrival––a movie about linguistics and coming to terms with the loss of a child. It stands to reason, then, that the Walmart commercial most likely does not fall within any sort of official canon, and therefore the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis Theorem does not apply. The same cannot be said for the horrors that follow.

Mr clean and kool aid man Procter & Gamble

In "Planters: Baby Nut," a commercial spot for Planters peanuts, the ongoing narrative of Planters mascot Mr Peanut's death is continued at his funeral, thereby establishing canon. Mourned by Mr. Clean and the Kool-Aid Man, this ad sees Mr. Peanut revived as Baby Nut through the powers of Kool-Aid Man's tears; but more importantly, it establishes the fact that Mr. Clean, Kool-Aid Man, and Mr. Peanut exist within the same canonical universe.

But Mr. Clean appeared in another 2020 Super Bowl commercial, too––a spot titled "P&G Presents: When We Come Together, an Interactive Super Bowl Party, America's Choice."

www.youtube.com

The ad, intended as an interactive endorsement of Procter & Gamble cleaning products, plays out as follows:

Actress Sophia Vergara is hosting a Super Bowl party that is nearly ruined by a guest disastrously covering the entire house in spilled chili. Luckily, Procter & Gamble mascots are there to help. Mr. Clean is there with his trusty mop. Bounty Man, a buff superhero who shoots rolls of Bounty paper towels from his crotch and looks alarmingly like character actor Rob Riggle, swoops in. Football player Troy Palomalu makes an appearance in his capacity as the former Head & Shoulders shampoo spokesman. Even the Old Spice guy, Isaiah Mustafa, is there on his horse. And then Bounty Man enters the bathroom to find...

charmin bear busy philipps Procter & Gamble


Actress Busy Philipps witnessing the young Charmin bear mid-asshole inspection. As the bear bares his assh*le, dancing and singing about his Charmin clean heinie, we come to the terrifying realization that all of these characters must exist within the same assh*le inspection hellscape as the Charmin Bears. In fact, the lack of surprise with which Busy Phillips, a presumably real person, approaches Junior's assh*le inspection suggests that for her, assh*le inspection is also boilerplate.

Moreover, thanks to the prior connection amongst Mr. Clean, Kool-Aid Man, and Mr. Peanut, we can assume that these mascots are subject to constant assh*le inspection, too. Remember, in order to travel in the Charmin Bear America, TSA must first inspect your assh*le. This likely doesn't present a huge issue for Mr. Clean, but Mr. Peanut and Kool-Aid Man might be in trouble. Peanut tends to complicate stool, and Kool-Aid Man's entire body is prone to leakage, so it's exceedingly likely that neither of them have particularly clean assh*les. Unfortunately, both mascots are likely subject to hatred and disenfranchisement within the assh*le inspection dystopia of Procter & Gamble's ideal America.

Mr Clean Procter & Gamble

Scarier, the inclusion of Sophia Vergara and Busy Philipps brings all of this dangerously close to home. If real human actresses Sophia Vergara and Busy Philipps have analogues in the Charmin Bears' universe, this means that actual humans are being subjected to assh*le inspection by what is almost certainly a fascist regime of cartoon bears. And if Troy Palomalu exists within this world, that might also mean that there's an NFL. Are the players forced to go through assh*le inspection before every game?

The alternative reading is that the Sophia Vergara and Busy Philipps in the Charmin Bears' universe are not analogues, but rather the real Sophia Vergara and Busy Philipps. This reading might even hold more weight, considering the fact that Sophia Vergara's son, Manolo, makes an appearance in the commercial, too. This further muddles the line between fiction and reality, as the Sophia Vergara in Charmin world can no longer be viewed as just a celebrity face, but rather as a full human with a rich inner life. In the worst case scenario, Procter & Gamble might be attempting to establish a real world canon, meaning that, per the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis Theorem, their sick Charmin Bear assh*le inspection hellscape would actually be our reality. Which would mean: The Charmin Bears are out there, waiting, plotting to inspect your assh*le.

I pray I am wrong. I pray this is not the case. But I fear that the Ad-pocalypse is already upon us. I said we needed to stop the Charmin Bears. I begged the consumers to listen. They did not. Now it might be too late. So when the Charmin Bears come to inspect your assh*le, please remember: As consumers, this is our fault.

CULTURE

The Assh*le Inspection Hellscape of the Charmin Bears Commercials

The Charmin Bears Commercials portray a terrifying dystopia.

Charmin

When people imagine dystopian nightmares, they typically jump to fundamentalist-controlled governments or societies wherein technology has gone too far.

But the most terrifying dystopia on television isn't The Handmaid's Tale or Black Mirror. It's the society portrayed in the Charmin Bears Commercials: a hellscape so deceitfully lighthearted that it airs in the middle of even the family-friendliest programming.

Assh*le Inspection in the Family: Abusive Parenting

In a recent Charmin Bears commercial, Mama and Papa bear hem and haw over picking up a pair of underwear discarded on the bathroom floor. Enter Junior Bear to save the day. The bespectacled cub slides into the bathroom, picks up his used underwear, and proceeds to brag about the underwear still being clean, singing, "'Cause my heinie's clean / Oh yeah, I'm Charmin clean," while exposing his assh*le to his smiling parents.

Even Charmin Bear Cubs Know Charmin Ultra Strong Just Cleans Better | Charmin® Ultra Strong™ www.youtube.com

The Charmin Bears have been around since 2000, and throughout the past two decades, their commercials have firmly established a grotesque world order revolving around assh*le inspections.

"What is assh*le inspection?" you may ask. Great question.

In the Charmin Bears universe, asshole inspection is a practice whereby bears inspect other bears' assh*les for little chunks of stray toilet paper. Yes, this a real, established, concept in the Charmin Bears canon.

Charmin Bears Charmin

No, I have no idea why they do this, but it can't be overstated how much of a core element assh*le inspection is in these Charmin Bears' lives. They inspect each others' assh*les constantly. Literally anything Junior does seems to be a perfect excuse for the parents to look at his assh*le.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Junior tries on a silly robot costume? Great time to check out his assh*le.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Junior dresses up for a fancy dinner? Assh*le check.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Junior plays football with dad? You know that's an assh*le check.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Oh yeah, we get that assh*le check from dad's POV, too.

Charmin Bears Charmin

The parents are pathological about cleaning Junior's asshole. Upon spotting the slightest hint of toilet paper, Mama Bear will break out a feather duster, a lint roller, or even a vacuum cleaner, which she then uses to attack Junior's butt.

Charmin Bears Charmin

They even go so far as to burst into the bathroom while Junior is still inside just to point out the chunks of toilet paper floating around his assh*le.

Charmin Bears Charmin

One could easily categorize the Charmin Bears' behavior as abusive; and undoubtedly, it's done lasting damage to Junior's psyche. Junior is so hyper-aware of his assh*le that he oftentimes contorts his own body into painful positions just to screen himself for tiny bits of paper.

Charmin Bears Charmin

He even carries a mirror around with which he can gaze at his own assh*le in the hopes of avoiding his parents' psychotic wrath.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Disturbingly, the commercials seem to present this assh*le inspection practice as a universal standard, with the narrator making claims like, "You can't pass mom's inspection with lots of pieces left behind," and "You can always measure the growth of your children by the way they clean themselves in the bathroom," as if every mom is picking through their middle schooler's butthole for little bits of TP.

Although, to be fair, Mama and Papa Bear seem confident showing everyone their own assh*les, too. When Mama Bear exclaims, "Beautiful view" during a family beach vacation, Papa Bear hardly skips a beat, shoving his assh*le directly in her face––an act she seems to greatly admire.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Assh*le Inspection as Culture: Race and Politics

While the familial aspects of Charmin-brand assh*le inspections are certainly troubling, the cultural aspects are where the true terror lies. As it turns out, it's not just this one family in Charmin Bear world that's obsessed with assh*les. It's everyone.

In one commercial spot featuring Junior hanging out with his friends, we discover that the Charmin Bears' social hierarchy literally revolves around who has the cleanest ass*hole. As the boys play video games, one of them brags about how Charmin makes his butt so clean that he can wear his underwear two days in a row. The boys proceed to bully one boy whom they've deemed "Skids," presumably because he leaves sh*t stains everywhere he goes. Junior and his friends point and laugh at Skids, clearly the lowest on their totem pole because he has the dirtiest assh*le.

(It's worth noting as an aside that underwear comes up very frequently in the Charmin commercials, and yet none of the bears are ever actually seen wearing underwear. In fact, one might imagine that in the Charmin Bears' world, wearing underwear might be the equivalent of wearing adult diapers, as it suggests an inability to properly clean one's assh*le.)

Charmin Bears Charmin

But perhaps the starkest and most troubling portrayal of Charmin assh*le inspection culture is the airport commercial. In this spot, we witness a TSA agent screening Papa Bear's assh*le for toilet paper scraps before allowing him into the terminal. The implications are horrendous.

Charmin Bears Charmin

What kind of society is this where bears need to have their assh*les inspected before they can travel? What series of events occurred before airport assh*le inspection was enacted into law? Did a bear board a plane with an overly sh*tty assh*le and accidentally create a medical emergency mid-flight due to the poo poo stench? What else could have possibly happened? Also, the TSA bear is wearing an American flag patch, suggesting that Charmin assh*le inspection world is actually America, and we can't discount the possibility that Charmin is advocating for the real-world implementation of assh*le inspection policies.

Perhaps it's no surprise that in the Charmin Bears' dystopia, political campaigns also revolve around assh*le inspections. To be clear, the blue bear's platform is "Ultra Soft" on assh*les and the red bear's platform is "Ultra Strong" on assh*les. Assh*le inspection is legitimately the only thing in this entire world that any of these bears care about.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Their entertainment clearly revolves around assh*le inspection, with a night at the theater amounting to watching a bear monologue about Charmin's toilet paper while displaying his assh*le to a crowd.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Assh*le inspections even seem to be the predominant reflector of racial disparities in the Charmin universe. While the red and blue Charmin bears always use the "softest" or "strongest" top-shelf TP, there's also a family of orange bears who only buy the cheaper "Charmin Basic" line.

Charmin Bears Charmin

In these commercials, one of which depicts the orange Mama Bear refusing to buy her son expensive breakfast cereal, Mama Bear always boasts about her thrifty ability to buy decent toilet paper for not much money. The orange bear commercials also seem to air for targeted demographics in Spanish-language; and as such, it seems obvious that the orange bears are racially coded.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Given the Charmin-world implications, it unfortunately seems possible that orange Charmin Bears, with their cheaper toilet paper, might have a harder time passing assh*le inspection, and therefore advancing in society, than their red and blue peers.

But politics and racism aren't the only complex aspects of culture that Charmin Bears bastardize.

Charmin as a Fetish: WTF?

Lest they forget one last core element of the human experience often explored in dystopian literature, Charmin Bears aren't afraid to tackle sexuality. And if you guessed that the sex lives of Charmin Bears revolved around assh*le inspection, you would, of course, be correct.

Take, for instance, a commercial spot wherein a blue bear, who presumably just wiped her assh*le, dances to a song full of double-entendres about "grinning cheek to cheek." Yes, she's so happy that her assh*le is smiling.

Charmin Bears Charmin

As the lyrics, "Charmin Booty Smile, I got a Charmin Booty Smile" blare, obviously implying that her butt crack is clean, we cut to a red bear engaging in some hardcore voyeurism. He's standing in the doorway watching her with his mouth open. Look at his expression. There is literally no other explanation than that the red bear is sexually turned on by the blue bear's clean assh*le.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Stanger, though, is the commercial officially titled "Charmin Bears Can't Keep Their Paws Off Toilet Paper." Here, Mama and Papa Bear actually fondle a package of toilet paper in tune to a crooning cover of the 1945 love song "Till the End of Time," featuring the lyrics, "You'll always be my lover till the end of time."

Charmin Bears Can't Keep Their Paws Off Toilet Paper | Charmin® Ultra Soft™ www.youtube.com

This act is so, so, so clearly sexual for them. I don't know if I've ever looked at anyone as lecherously as Mama and Papa Bear seem to be looking at each other as they rub the toilet paper.

Charmin Bears Charmin

But wait. It's not just Mama Bear and Papa Bear. Oh no, sexually rubbing toilet paper is a family affair for these assh*le inspection-obsessed bears in the lunatic world of Charmin Bears commercials. Yes, these Charmin Bears are straight-up engaging in a toilet paper orgy in a mainstream commercial.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Look at Papa Bear's face.

Charmin Bears Charmin

Even Mama Bear is like, "Whoa, wtf dude?" Papa Bear is basically doing an Ahegao face over toilet paper.

Charmin Bears Charmin

The commercial ends with a record scratch and Mama Bear standing up to declare, "Okay, this is getting a little weird."

Charmin Bears Charmin

Gee, Mama Bear, do ya f*cking think?

For Christ's sake, the lunatics at Charmin have created a spanning canon of commercials revolving around bears who incessantly gaze into one another's assh*les and now, after a family toilet paper orgy, they finally declare that "this is getting a little weird."

This has been weird the entire time. Traumatic even. Assh*le inspection is not an established thing. I have no idea where the psychopaths at Charmin got that idea, but again, for the people in the back, ASSH*LE INSPECTION IS NOT A THING. The Charmin Bears need to be stopped at any cost. If we let Charmin continue on their path of destruction, the cost of a clean heinie might be far too much to...bear. #StopTheCharminBears