KFC Casts First Female Colonel Sanders, and Some Men Are Actually Mad

Reba McEntire as Colonel Sanders for KFC. KFC

Women truly can do anything—even sell fried chicken.

On Thursday, KFC announced a new advertising campaign featuring country music star Reba McEntire as Colonel Sanders, the first woman to ever take on the role of the company's mustached and goateed founder.

There was no attempt to make a womanly version of the Southern colonel for McEntire. In a new commercial, the 62-year-old singer and actress wears the white-haired wig and facial hair with pride while she belts out a tongue-and-cheek song.

"I'm Colonel Sanders, the same as always," McEntire croons, while the non-Sanders McEntire sits in the audience. "I swear I'm not a famous woman!"

It's clearly light-hearted, and McEntire follows other celebrities who have donned the Colonel's white suit in KFC ads over the years—including Rob Lowe, Rob Riggle, Jim Gaffigan, Billy Zane and Darroll Hammond. But McEntire is the first woman cast by the fast-food company to shill buckets of its 11-original-herbs-and-spices chicken.

Is this, perhaps, KFC's way of getting behind the recent Time's Up push for better treatment of women in the entertainment industry? A spokesperson for the chain told Newsweek, no, the decision was not intended as a political move.

"We've always maintained that anyone, male or female, who embodies the spirit of the colonel is qualified to play the iconic role," the spokesperson said. "We were looking for a country music legend who shares the values of the Colonel, a showperson through and through, and a lover of fried chicken with plenty of Southern charm to boot. Reba was the perfect choice."

As you'd expect, the gender-swap got a strong reaction on social media. Some women were genuinely pleased to see more representation in the fried chicken business.

Others found humor in the "feminist" fried-chicken milestone. "Now, we're breaking the glass ceiling," one user wrote.

"We didn't get the 1st female President, But we DID get the 1st female Colonel Sanders," commented another.

Then, unsurprisingly, there was the small but vocal group of users who vehemently opposed the casting.

Some argued a female chicken-loving Colonel just wasn't historically accurate enough. "Was Colonel Sanders a woman?" one user wondered. "Were there any female colonels when KFC was founded?"

Others felt McEntire in a fake mustache sends a dangerous message to young boys about what it means to be a man. "As 'cute' as this is, it's also just another step in the progressive erosion of male gender masculinity," wrote another Twitter user.

Still others felt that while it's OK to swap genders for fictional characters, it's wrong to do so with a real person like the Colonel. (Harland David Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel in 1935, then again in 1950. He died in 1980.)

A few even threatened to boycott.

The complaints kept coming, loudly and angrily.

The first female Colonel Sanders may not be the beacon of feminism the Women's March asked for, but perhaps it's the one this country deserves right now.

As for McEntire's thoughts on the matter? "I thought the transformation was really funny," she told the Associated Press. "I got a big kick out of it."