It’s the time of year for Super Bowl ads, and there’s a fun one that has a great nude-friendly message. Avocados From Mexico produced an Adam and Eve spoof, “Make It Better,” that reimagines the famous scene in the Garden of Eden and leads to… well, a whole nude world.
Eve has bitten into a fruit (we don’t see which), the sky darkens, and Adam cries out in panic, “I’m naked!” Not to fear, says a squirrel (or maybe a prairie dog?), who hands Eve an avocado, which she opens into an aura of golden light. Then we fast-forward to present-day New York City, now known as The Big Avocado, where everyone is going about their lives in the nude. We see people of many shapes, sizes and colors. Of course the shots are framed such that no genitals or breasts are visible. Peace reigns. All is love and light. Somehow Adam and Eve and the squirrel are still around, and they have the last words. Looking at a nude Statue of Liberty, the squirrel says “Sweet liberty” and Eve quips, “Now that’s a tourist attraction.”
On the surface, it’s a silly commercial that relies on humor and nudity to grab the viewer’s attention and, hopefully, sell more avocados, precisely at the time of the year when avocado sales peak for the Super Bowl. Holy guacamole!
Ah, but there’s more to it than that, says I. Let’s unpack this a bit. The commercial’s message is essentially “change the narrative.” It seems to be as easy as changing which fruit you pick – had Eve simply picked an avocado, the world would be a very different, naked, place. “Sweet liberty,” indeed. That the narrative that should be changed is none other than Genesis is very interesting – Genesis, and by extension, the entire Bible: the cornerstone of the Western worldview.
Here’s the thing: the Middle Easterners who produced the books of the Old and New Testaments had no idea what an avocado is. It’s a plant native to what sixteenth-century Europeans would call the New World, or the Western Hemisphere. Just like corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cacao, chilies, squashes, peanuts, most beans, pineapples, blueberries, etc., avocados were unknown to anyone outside the Americas until the colonial period.
Those who did know about avocados – namely, the Indigenous peoples of the tropical Americas – had their own customs and practices concerning clothing, but were on the whole much more nude-friendly than those Old World invaders. Is there a correlation? Yes -the tropical climate is propitious for certain plant and animal species, and also for not wearing so many damn clothes.
And this is why the ad is actually very clever – the “New World” could have been the “Nude World” if the Europeans hadn’t been so dogmatic about their way of seeing things. Indigenous artists who were trained in European-style painting during the colonial period painted Garden of Eden scenes on the walls and ceilings of chapels throughout Latin America. In them, nude Eve and Adam appear among local species like toucans, macaws, cacao trees and, yes, avocado trees. Those artists adopted stories from afar to local landscapes. They painted the world as they knew it. Don’t we all?
Unpacking a bit more, it’s worth pointing out that the English word “avocado” comes from “ahuacatl” in Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica (Aztecs) and many other peoples, still spoken today. The word in Nahuatl means not only avocado, but also testicle, due to the resemblance between the fruit and the organ. Some Indigenous traditions regard avocados, and chilies, as aphrodisiacs (more here). Even without the avocado in the mix, there are many who interpret the “fruit” in Genesis to refer to the genitals and sexual knowledge. Yet, to its credit, the Avocados From Mexico ad does not get any closer to a sexual tone than a general “oh look they’re naked” titillation.
Anything that helps people associate social nudism with happiness is a good thing, in my view. The “change the narrative” message works very well in this memorable, green, natural little piece of propaganda. After all, it isn’t so much that Eve needed an avocado. It’s that our Western worldview needs to lighten up and drop the clothes!