Stephen’s Sound Advice: “Invest in Gold, Women and Sheep.” Also: A wet pork contest!

December 20th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Oh, how the writers at The Colbert Report continue to warm my heathen vegan feminist cockles! (Dear mystery vegetarian/vegan on Stephen’s staff: Call me, mkay?)

Tuesday’s episode of The Colbert Report featured this hilarious send-up of Glenn Beck & Co.’s recent gold investment advertising-slash-infomercial media blitz. While the entire six-minute segment is amusing, gold obviously isn’t our primary focus here; no, the trenchant-as-hell bit starts at 4:15:

For those who aren’t card-carrying members of The Colbert Nation, allow me to set the bit up for you. “Prescott Financial” is a spinoff of “Prescott Pharmaceuticals,” a spoof company that “sponsors” a long-running segment on TCR, “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen Colbert, DFA.” In “Cheating Death,” Stephen reports on actual medical stories, which are then used to promote medical breakthrough products offered by Prescott Pharmaceuticals. Ridiculously fake medical breakthrough products, with equally ridiculous and fake side effects, that is.

Likewise, in this fake ad from Prescott Financial, spokesperson John Slattery recommends investing in gold as a safeguard against the coming apocalypse. While gold’s appeal may be “elemental” (A! U!), even this most precious metal’s value is limited. For example, you can’t eat gold. Thus, Slattery recommends rounding out your portfolio with women and sheep as well as gold doubloons and bricks.

Here’s a transcript of the “commercial,” for those who can’t view the video. (But if you can, you must!)

Hello, I’m John Slattery for Prescott Financial.

The global economic crisis has left investors with few places to safeguard their wealth. It seems no investment is safe. Except one: GOLD. Gold is the only investment that will never lose its value because…IT’S GOLD. [Holding up brick of gold.] Look at it. It’s shiny.

Yes, after our propped-up banks fail, gold will be the only law in the afterscape. So ask yourself: When the shit goes down, what do you want in the briefcase handcuffed to your arm? [Holding up a black briefcase handcuffed to his wrist and winking.] GOLD.

But even gold can take you only so far. To ensure the survival of your bloodline, you’ll want to diversify your portfolio with…WOMEN. They have agile hands, a strong work ethic, and can be traded for potable water and ammunition. Or: GOLD.

But you can’t eat gold – and shouldn’t eating women be a last resort? That’s why Prescott also recommends: SHEEP. [Cue: A live sheep on a rope tether. Baaaaa!] Excellent pack animals, that produce fine wool for warmth, their bones can be fashioned into tools. Not to mention, they make a fine companion if someone steals your women. I named this one GOLDIE.

GOLD. WOMEN. SHEEP. Will you be ready? Call Prescott today.

Most likely, viewers who think of nonhuman animals as “livestock” and “natural resources” to be exploited will only guffaw at the absurdity of investing in women; sheep, not so much.

After all, humans invest in nonhuman animals every day: Tyson, Proctor & Gamble, your local “zoo,” etc., etc., etc. Animal exploitation is a matter of course, a way of life. And, while women, people of color, and impoverished people have also been bought, sold and traded in a similar manner throughout human history and in various cultures, largely we like to think of this as occurring in the distant past – a curious practice of a bygone era. We’re more “civilized” than that, right?

Except that humans are still bought, sold and traded in these “modern” times, and in industrialized nations as well as developing ones. (See: sexual slavery; human trafficking; and the FLDS church – for starters.) Even modern-day marriage is a vestige of a system wherein women were considered property to be transferred from their fathers to their husbands. The property status of women is still reflected in societal attitudes towards spousal rape (e.g., that it’s not possible for one spouse to rape another, because marriage involves the contracting of “conjugal rights”; that spousal rape is a “lesser” form of rape, etc.).

Anyhow, perhaps it’s just because I’m motivated to read the spoof commercial in such a manner, but it seems that TCR is linking the objectification of nonhuman animals and women by placing them both in the same category as an actual object, i.e., gold. The concept of “women-as-investments” is silly because we know that women are sentient, emotive, intelligent, individual beings. But so, too, are nonhuman animals: sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, fishes – all develop relationships with other animals, all give birth to and nurture their young, all are capable of forming and acting on thoughts, and – perhaps most importantly – all are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. The idea of eating women (even women that/whom you own) is abhorrent; a last resort. Why, then, should it be any different with nonhuman animals?

Women are not objects, tools or pieces of property. Neither are sheep.

While The Colbert Reports rarely fails to make me swoon, this recent segment from The Daily Show had me yelling at the teevee.


Now, my thoughts on in vitro meat are complex and conflicted; I understand and sympathize with both sides of the vegan divide. Still, I find Jon’s mocking tone – not to mention, his insistence that lab-grown meat is science solely in service of humans, rather than the 10 billion nonhuman domesticated land animals slaughtered for food every year in the U.S. – is somewhat offensive. (Eliminating factory farming is akin to sausage and pancakes on a stick? For reals!?) Nonhuman animals – you know, the “meat” – were completely invisible to the discussion. Absent referent much, Jon?


Videos in this post

The Colbert Report, Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Prescott Financial Sells Gold, Women & Sheep – John Slattery for Prescott Financial urges you to diversify your gold portfolio with women and sheep. (06:15)

The Daily Show, December 2, 2009
We Did It! – Artificial Meat – Scientists create artificial meat that’s five years away from being suitable for sausage. (03:10)

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