Pigs are not creatures we generally associate with being flattering, so it comes to no surprise that creating an analogy between a person and a pig is something that comes off as a very rude remark. Perhaps because pigs are known for being dirty, eating everything, and plowing through anything that comes in their way, humans have a particular disgust for these animals. Hence, attaching the term “pig” to a human is equivalent of calling one dirty and rude. Often, these analogies to pigs are used to depict disgusting beings, whose behaviors are repulsive to us. In political cartoons, for example, the use of pigs can allow for criticisms of political leaders. However, though comparing humans to pigs is most often done in a spiteful manner, depicting pigs in the analogies as silly, humanesque beings can be used to take out the tension of calling one a pig, even if the underlying message is not entirely lost. One interesting use of this kind of animal satire is for the purpose of shaming humans into changing their behaviors, by lowering them to the level of animals.
In a commercial for Trojan condoms, we can see that pigs are used satirically to shame men into changing their behaviors. Satire can be a powerful tool in a commercial, particularly since it intends to inspire change, and a purchase of a product the commercial is advertising would, naturally, be the change the satire inspires. In the Trojan commercial, we are taken to a scene at a bar, where a few women sit around surrounded by masses of pigs. The pigs attempt to engage in conversation with the women and try to woo them, but the women seem disinterested and even annoyed. The commercial sends the message that women refuse to stoop to the level of the pigs by refusing to engage in conversation. However, as soon as one pig decides to purchase a condom, he is immediately turned into a man. In his new state, he is able to easily get the woman of his interest.
The commercial is paired with jolly music, and the pigs do not seem particularly repulsive, though they still fail to get the attention of the women. However, since the pigs aren’t depicted in a particularly offensive manner (aside from the fact that they are pigs), the modern commercial does not seem to use a very strong form of satire, and remains rather Horatian in nature. The commercial’s light satire of the pig analogy seems to reflect a trend in popular modern satire. Rather than being a direct and intense criticism of a situation, satire today seems to be something that Kathryn Hume refers to as “diffused satire.” In her paper, “Diffused Satire in Contemporary American Fiction,” Hume makes the argument that “[d]iffused satire is not righteous or punitive. It is less judgmental, more provocative of doubt and questions, sometimes self-reflexive.” Although Hume makes this argument for modern fiction, the notion could be extended to any work of modern satire. “Diffused satire” seems to be a large factor for the main difference between modern satire and satires through history. Although satire is perhaps more common in our society than in the 1800’s, for example, Hume argues that our form of “diffused satire” is less intense, meaning that “…the clarity and directness with which a subject is targeted…” is not as great as the intensity of historic satires. Hume’s argument offers an explanation for how modern satires that compare men to pigs can still remain relatively inoffensive.
The commercial is finished off with one remaining word after the scene has faded: Evolve. Although not very offensive, the commercial does remain a satire by suggesting that men who do not use condoms are pigs and need to evolve into a civilized man state. So, through the use of satire, Trojan is successfully marketing its product by shaming people into buying it if they want to keep their dignity.