Is feminism dead? 'Newlywed' Jessica Simpson cashes in with marketing deals
By Wade Paulsen, 10/30/2003
When we last saw Jessica Simpson, the clueless blonde wife and sometime pop singer featured on MTV's Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, she was looking to cash in on her "dumb blonde" image. Little did we imagine that she'd be so successful so quickly.
E! Online reports that Jessica has reached a marketing agreement with SIgnatures Network Inc., the marketing company that also represents her pop tart rival Britney Spears, to launch an exclusive new line of health, beauty and fashion products for her under the name "Just Jessica." According to the NY Post, the approximate value of the deal is $3 million in just the next few months.
Why Jessica? Said the CEO of SNI, "Young women can really relate to her." But why? Because she says, in her own words to MTV, "lots of ditzy things"?
USA Today focuses on the nature of Jessica's appeal. Shock radio host Howard Stern, for example, is quoted as saying, "I don't care if she's dumb. That only makes her hotter." The conclusion is that Jessica is the latest successful "dumb blonde," in the tradition of Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Suzanne Somers and Carol Channing, who was famously quoted in 1955 explaining her success thusly: "I didn't have to be bright. All I had to do was be blonde."
Jessica's success -- and her purported appeal to young women -- would seem to indicate that feminism, with its emphasis on the intelligent, competent woman, has been swept aside by an anti-feminist wave with Jessica riding its crest. At least, that's how corporations seem to see it.
Says the CEO of SNI again, "Ever since we announced the deal, the phone has been ringing off the hook from companies who want Jessica for endorsements." Such companies as a bank (which wants her for a "newlywed" credit card), a furniture manufacturer ("newlywed" furniture) and a greeting card company (the 'wit and wisdom' of Jessica Simpson) are looking to hire her if the price isn't too steep. Says the CEO, ""We don't recommend anything to Jessica unless it means at least a million net to her."
Perhaps Lorelei Lee, the "heroine" of the 1925 novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was right when she said, "A girl with brains ought to do something else with them besides think."
The second season of Newlyweds began taping on October 26. Jessica, however, is trying to strike while the iron is hot, filming or no filming. One endorsement job that she wants is for Chicken of the Sea tuna. The company has little interest, perhaps because her endorsement fee is simply too rich -- or perhaps because it's hard to believe that people would eat more tuna based on an endorsement of a person who can't tell the difference between tuna and chicken.
Jessica isn't taking her rejection lying down. "I really want to be the mermaid on their can," she says. "You'd think they'd want that after their sales went up 10 percent. If Chicken of the Sea doesn't want me, I'll do Starkist. I know tuna will be involved in there somewhere." Nothing like brand loyalty from a potential endorser.
Jessica's ego has extended to making public pitches for movie projects, too. According to ComingSoon.net, Jessica made a public pitch on CNN's Larry King Live to be cast as Jeannie in a big-screen remake of the 1960s TV hit I Dream of Jeannie, and her domineering father/manager Joe Simpson says that "she'd be one of [the movie studio's] top contenders" for the part.
We think Jeannie would be a perfect part for Jessica (although we personally would avoid the movie as if it were Gigli). When Jessica wasn't needed to cast spells, she could lounge by the pool in her "Jeannie bikini" -- something that she proved on Newlyweds that she was already good at doing.