Oscar-Winning Filmmaker Errol Morris Creates a Commercial for Depend Adult Diapers

There’s a gender assumption for every stage of life these days. From gender-coded Lego play sets and teen magazines, we progress to lightweight, pink tool sets or their more traditional, apparently “masculine” counterpart.

After that?

Adult diapers.

Physically, it makes sense that the latter would divide along assigned gender lines. Biology may not be the trump card it was once considered to be, but, in general, it continues to visit wider hips on those born female organs than those rocking the frank n’ beans.  

(That said, as the mother of babies, I always appreciated when a reliable brand went the extra mile with unisex patterns on the tapes or waist band.)

Filmmaker Errol Morris chose to widen the gender divide in 2009, when he was hired to direct a Depend spot, featuring the company’s new line of gender-specific adult diapers, above.

In the end, the product itself was waiting in the wings, so a couple of cute midlife interviewees could take turns describing their impressions of a single Rorschach blot

Don’t worry. It’s got nothing to do with absorbency.

The female subject immediately begins to spin a fanciful tale involving two cute birds, while the male hems and haws, apparently the victim of some tragic gender-based lack of imagination. I bet he doesn’t like stopping to ask for directions either.

Given this director’s track record of gripping documentaries, I think I’d have preferred a more straightforward approach. I’d be up for a full-length documentary about the experience of actually wearing those things, especially if Morris used his Interrotron to elicit frank eye contact, as he does above. 

It’s an uncomfortable subject for sure, but I’d like to hear how adult diapers impact an individual’s sense of attractiveness and self-worth. I wouldn’t want Morris to generalize, but by and large, is it a radically different experience for men than it is for women?

Perhaps the riffing pair in the commercial spot have more familiarity with the product than they were allowed to let on? If so, I’d imagine it’s from caring for an elderly relative, but I could be wrong. Either way, those would be stories I’d like to hear.

Perhaps this is a topic best tackled by Werner Herzog

Related Content:

“They Were There” — Errol Morris Finally Directs a Film for IBM

Bob Geldof Talks About the Greatest Day of His Life, Stepping on the Stage of Live Aid, in a Short Doc by Errol Morris

Hermann Rorschach’s Original Rorschach Test: What Do You See? (1921)

Fellini’s Fantastic TV Commercials

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her latest script, Fawnbook, is available in a digital edition from Indie Theater Now.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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