1950s rap

Toyota has a viral youtube campaign for their minivan that they think is ever so clever.

I think it’s painfully backward.

In the lengthy ads, a very white middle class heterosexual family expounds on how cool they are in their minivan, which Dad has dubbed the Swagger Wagon. In the most recent ad, the family sings a rap about said vehicle.

How delightful, no?


In the song, Dad boasts how he participates and subverts gender stereotypes by having tea parties with his daughter and her dolls. Mom sings about how facile she is with jello and cupcakes, how she tends the kids’ wounds. While Dad mugs and poses in the van, Mom handles the lunch, the school play, and the song’s bridge—a potty break for their eldest.

Is this rap written for a 1950s audience? (The black and white images are a clue.) Why is Dad helping only with the tea party and nothing else? Why is Mom defined by her baking skills, her cheerleading costume, and her self definition as a former “college chick”?

One of the most difficult transitions for progressive couples who become parents is the reality of how even 50/50 marriages become 90/10 marriages when kids are thrown into the mix. The sheer volume of work mothers do, and the fact that it tends to be time sensitive, repetitive work (meals, tidying, errands, school) contrasts with the paucity of work inside the home most fathers do (and the fact that it tends to be ‘get to it when you can’ weekend, one-time, big project work). And the new division of labor causes marital strife.

Is that what you celebrate in your silly minivan ads? That families can fight in the front seat while the wee ones sit with headphones and DVD players in the back, oblivious to the real work of being a family…the day to day bickering over details, like the fact that I’ll be damned if I’m ever defined by how my baked goods perform at the school bake sale or refer to any of the years I busted my ass in higher ed as the days when I was a college chick.

Thanks for the stereotypes, Toyota. Sure makes me think less about your cars driving unintentionally into oncoming traffic.