The first question we might be asking about this terribly misguided ad from Mr. Clean is what sort of weird, Oedipal relationship does a son have with his mother where he dresses like the Brawny towel paper dude's less brawny younger brother in order to clean mom's house? Thankfully, Mr. Clean doesn't want sons to repay years of selfless child rearing by cleaning their aging mothers' houses in various states of undress — Mr. Clean wants husbands to clean their own homes, you know, the ones they share with their wives, because what all married women really want is a day's respite from the domestic labor prison camp that is a patriarchal marriage.
This ad assumes men either can't or are unwilling to clean, when we all know from watching Full House that sometimes men make the most oppressive kinds of neat-freaks. For instance, when I was growing up, my dad started cleaning dishes before he finished cooking while my mom simply let half-eaten pancakes glue themselves to our plates before deciding that it was time to toss them in the dishwasher. What do you have to say about that, ad people for Mr. Clean? Predictable silence. The other implicit assumption the Mr. Clean gang makes is that cleaning makes such a wonderful Mother's Day present because it offers mom a break from cleaning, a sentiment that assumes a Leave It to Beaver gender dichotomy still exists in the 2012 household: men go out into the world and world, leaving a slug-trail of dirty dishes and skid-marked underwear for their wives to faithfully clean up. Wouldn't it be nice for mom to sleep in, for once? If maybe mom didn't have to make pancakes or clean spaghetti out of the sink drain because somebody keeps forgetting that it isn't a goddamn garbage disposal?
Things have changed, Mr. Clean — it's not 1958 anymore, Dwight D. Eisenhower isn't president, and you're still thoroughly bald. Besides, cleaning the house is such an obvious I-forgot-to-get-a-real-gift gift that it would completely ruin Mother's Day. I mean, who wants something that is (or should be) a regularly occurring household phenomenon for a present? Mom wants a good book or an awesome meal or a Wii or a three-pack of Kendall Jackson chardonnay like the one I'm getting my mom. And don't go all Epicurious about how KJ is consumerist trash — mom likes what she likes and she's going to enjoy a few well-proportioned glasses of it on Sunday while listening to the mellow hum of the dish washer.