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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