Been a while since I posted, but this annoyed me so much, Maybe it's time I resurrected this.
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A man is standing proudly on the roof of his home, having just finished installing a large, and expensive looking solar array. "Hey honey, come look at this!" he shouts. But then suddenly, a tiny yellow bird lands on the array, and then takes off. Immediately the whole array goes sliding off the roof and lands in a jumbled mess in the back yard, as can be seen from the wife's viewpoint. She is sitting cross-legged on the couch, with her laptop in her lap.
Without the slightest sign of shock, she turns from the view, back to her laptop, and types in "Roof Repair" into the Yellowbook.com web page. It was as if she expected him to fuck up.
How many more "Men are incompetent at home repair" commercials do we need?
Okay, so this is probably the ultimate man-bashing ad.
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But at least the fact that it's an advertisement is really well buried. And it's well done, and even funny.
But man does it fit the "men are dumb, women are goddesses" template.
This ad by Dairy Queen almost motivated me to post, but I'm not the only one on this issue.
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Ganked in its entirety from brianblackberry
Sometimes a series of unrelated events cause a sudden realization...
A friend commented how men are poorly portrayed in the media, specifically on television in sitcoms and commercials. By chance I then came across an article that talked about the same idea except it expanded it to speak about poor portrayal of men in news and current affairs stories as well. Not to mention all the guys I've heard speak of this.
As I thought about it, I realized at least from my own occasional observations, they may be right. Now I don't watch sitcoms myself, in fact outside of football I don't even watch network television. Generally, outside of non-fiction programming of the History channel or Discovery (and football during the season), all I watch is adult cartoons (as in South Park, Adult Swim, Family Guy, etc), anime, or Science Fiction, all genres well outside the mainstream.
Still just from merely watching some of the commercials, at least commercials that involved men and women interacting, no matter the product or service being pushed, the guy is almost always portrayed as a witless dolt, a neanderthal, clueless, and hopelessly out of touch. Still was it just me? Was it my own bias that could be coloring my perspective of commercials, or was the anti-male bias in commercials (and possibly programming and news) it so blatantly obvious, how could I not notice even with my casual, disinterested viewing?
For example, the Capital One commercials, the theme is always the same here: The family wants to go on some vacation but the father through his incompetence is forced to take his family to the least desirable place in relation to what they want to do. Amazon over Ireland for visiting family, Antarctica over the Caribbean for a honeymoon, traveling a like Hobos in a boxcar and so forth. In addition he then eventually does something so mind boggling stupid on top of this the result is himself or his family injured or in mortal danger. The guy is always portrayed as inept, clueless, dimwitted, and even dangerous through sheer stupidity, if only he wasn't around...
Like I said I certainly haven't been alone in this perception, and let us face it, this isn't the most popular observation, it certainly flies in the face of our politically correct saturated culture where it is essentially seen as justified in a ironic twist that certain groups do deserve scorn, men being one of those groups. However there indeed been research into this very subject.
The University of Western Sydney did a survey on the subject of stereotyping of men in the media. They found overwhelmingly men are portrayed as incompetent, lazy, and narcissistic. For example, after the study went through more than 2000 news articles and TV stories about men, 69 percent were negative versus 12 as positive (19 percent were viewed as neutral). The study also revealed that 75% of all mass media portrayal of men showed them as one of four ways: villains, aggressors, perverts and philanderers. According to another study by the National Fatherhood Initiative of 102 shows that have a father as a central, reoccurring character, only 4 portrayed that same father as competent and actively involved in his family, the rest were fools, deadbeats, abusers, or something worse.
The only area were men are seen in a positive light is only when they embrace the metrosexual lifestyle, in other-words when they give up acting like men.
Now I know the media has a poor record overall when it comes to stereotypical portrayals, we have seen them all, promiscuous and ultra flaming gays, men hating lesbians, women who are all wafer thin, black men as thugs, Ameri-Indians as little more then tribal spiritualists and original hippies, Wiccans only in the "candy pagan" variety, Christians as fanatics, etc, etc. However men are one of the very few stereotypes that is PC and intellectual establishment stamped and approved, a high irony even the supposed mantra of the PC crowd and their "commitment to diversity" and their stated aim of absolute fairness, or perhaps not?
So what do you all think? Is this a valid concern? Men are being scripted on TV and other media in overwhelming negative and simplistic way? Or is this all really nothing?
I thought this was useful because of the links, and the proof that I am not alone in seeing this stuff.
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Been too busy to really go deep, so let's go with one I just saw a few minutes ago.
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Nintendo DS "Big Brain Academy" - Mom, Dad, and Kid are sitting at the kitchen table working problems on this game.
Mom: "I got it"
Kid: "I got it."
Dad (Balding): "I don't get it." And a big X appears on his screen.
Remember, in AdWorld, Dads are Dumb.
A friend recently told me that folks are wondering (behind my back, of course, nobody EVER expresses their concerns to the person they're concerned about) why I am so obsessed with TV Ads.
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I'm not obsessed. If I were obsessed, I'd actually have weekly updates, and I'd have audio files and video captures and all that. I'd have a dedicated website, I'd be running mail campaigns, and try to get money from think tanks, and write books and maybe get on TV. That might be cool, but I don't have the level of obsession to dedicate my time to that.
Some, who have clearly completely missed the point (It's in the second essay) about how these man bashing ads are also bad for women, apparently are comparing me to noted misogynist Dave Sim.
There's a BIG difference between me and Dave Sim. Dave Sim HATES WOMEN. He had one bad marriage and an ugly divorce, and sees every woman as some kind of soul-devouring black hole. It's the pervasive theme of his later work, and the majority of his editorial writing.
I love women. I think everyone should have one. :-) But more seriously, I hate things that are counterproductive to a healthy society where men and women get along and enhance each other's strengths and counter each other's weaknesses. Top three among these social harmony destroying forces are Lawyers, Marketers, and Feminists. And those last two have formed an alliance to implement this awful "Two wrongs DO make a right, so even more wrongs will make it even more right!" strategy.
Yes, both male and female chauvinism are bad. But only the latter has been given social sanctioning. And I'm not the only one who's noticed this. Check out The WAR AGAINST BOYS: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers. Hell, just reading the commentary in the Amazon reviews is enlightening.
Tammy Bruce has had some things to say in this arena as well.
The point of manbashingads is not an exercise in obsession, but a way of KEEPING it from being an obsession. It's not central to my life, so it's not central to my personal LiveJournal. But I also think that attention needs to be called to this, because commercials are something we tend to be very unconscious about, but still deeply penetrate the social fabric (How many commercial tag lines can you think of in one minute?). And unlike other media elements like movies or particular shows, they're things we watch without CHOOSING to. This crap is FORCED upon us.
And the trick to becoming immune to subliminal/subconscious programming is to become AWARE of it. I'm sure anyone reading this thinks they're too savvy to fall prey to a Phishing e-mail, for example. Yet every day, there are people who do, because they are not aware of how it works. But once you know how to see that an e-mail asking you for your eBay password is a fake, you're equipped to detect other fakery. The same is true for the anti-male neuro-linguistic programming in commercials and media. Once you spot it, you can't help but notice it. I'm just doing my part to get people to notice it, and end the power of that unholy alliance between Feminists and Marketers.
Remember back in my original essay where I wrote about how the final realm of masculinity in advertising was the truck commercial? Well, it looks like they've figured out how to try to sell trucks to women. Instead of your typical Minivan/SUV type of commercial where the woman is driving the kids around in a suburban environment, they've started marketing to women with the usual smashing over rough terrain footage combined with the sweet seasoning of man bashing.
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The first commercial of this new campaign was subtle. At a snowed-in house, the garage door opens. Inside the garage, a woman is at the wheel of her Ford Escape while her husband sits in the passenger seat. The snow is a wall three feet high revealed by the door. The husband is very doubtful they can make it out, and mentions that HIS parents (the ones they are apparently visiting) say they could stay another day. This horrible prospect from capitulation to the weather is enough to firm up her resolve. She stomps on the gas and bursts through the snow blocking the garage. Thence the ad continues with typical brawny "SUV dominating the snowy landscape" footage. Clearly dangerous roads are a far better alternative to spending one more minute with her wimpy mate's progenitors.
The latest Ford Escape commercial is a lot more explicit. It opens with a woman on a date from hell with a guy who won't stop talking about himself. They get into her Ford Escape and proceed to drive into the wilderness, as he continues to puff himself up in the pasenger seat. Finally they stop in a clearing and he helps her unload a giant kettle from the capacious back of the SUV. He finally stops talking as she drives off, leaving him there, and he notices the Cannibal shrunken heads etc hanging around the clearing. It turns out to be a fantasy at the very end as she's still at the table with the oaf she just fantasized about leaving to his death.
The fact that the woman is driving in both of these commercials should give you an indication as to which gender they're directed at.
Sorry for the long neglect.
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Hotels.com has another really typical man-basher out there.
The shot opens on a shot of what might be Miami Beach hotel resorts right on the shore.
A woman's voice says "All these beautiful oceanfront hotels..."
The image is revealed to be a postcard as it drops from view, and we see a dejected looking, balding man (Why are they always balding?) standing in front of a hotel room window, and the huge pit of a building under construction behind him.
".. and we end up in this one."
The shot reverses to show the wife, and some extremely disappointed looking kids in beach gear (Choosing sides?) as she says, "Nice going, Chuck."
Men can't do anything right in commercials, can they? Kinda like the Hotline.com commercial where even a maching band running through the kitchen can't convince a guy to use the "right" hotel booking site.
The Voiceover says "If you want all the flavor of Quaker Instant Oatmeal, get new Quaker Oatmeal to Go."
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Sounds like a nice simple sales pitch, right? It's almost traditional. But the visual includes all the man-bashing and political correctness you can expect in AdWorld.
The Scene is what appears to be a crowded elevated train car. There's a man sitting with his briefcase on his lap, and stacked on it is a old-fashioned hotplate, a 2-quart pan of water, a bowl, and other accessories. He opens a packet of instant oatmeal and manages to get MOST of it into the bowl. Then he lifts up the pot of water, and his tie flops onto the hotplate and promptly catches on fire. He freaks.
Men are such idiots, aren't they? They're total clowns.
The black woman sitting across the aisle clearly thinks so. She has been watching this disastrous production. She then shakes her head with a pitying look, settles back into her seat, and goes back to eating her Quaker Oatmeal to Go bar.
Yeah, they got that extra racial oomph by not only positioning a man as stupid when compared to a woman (Which is required in commercials) but going for the extra points by making it a white man denigrated in comparison to a black woman.
(Mind you, this isn't MY opinion of race. Nobody's lower or higher than anyone else in my opinion, but it's pretty clear that there IS a ranking in AdWorld, and it is ALWAYS used to twist the knife in one particular direction.)
Three guys in an office meeting room are standing in the window, eating new Tostitos scoops, dipping them in a jar of salsa on the windowsill, looking down at the the construction workers on the sidewalk below.
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"Look at that, three guys standing around and one guy doing all the work."
"Yeah, they'd never make it in the corporate world."
But also in the conference room is a woman, sitting at a laptop, working intently at something. She's wearing a really nice business suit, while the guys all have their jackets off. She finally says "Okay, I got it", and the guys crowd around her and say "Good going team!" and high-five each other, while the woman makes a face. Clearly she's the only one who sees the irony of their earlier comments.
Guys are stupid, but women still go out with them. How else can they become happy successful single Career Moms who have it all, the Feminist Ideal, unless they briefly endure this ordeal. Fortunately, there are stereotypically easy ways to get rid of them.
That's the message in a Cingular Wireless commercial. First, you come up with a strange guy:
"I gotta go to the bathroom, wanna time me? Go!" Okay, where the hell did they come up with THAT?
Fortunately, our fair damsel has the walkie talkie feature of her cell phone (something I've never entirely understood. It's a PHONE for cryin' out loud, who needs Push-to-Talk?) and can commiserate with 6 of her friends (metaphoricly under the table) on what a "Train wreck" the date is and get ideas on how to ditch him.
Oddly enough, rather than simple honesty, men have to be tricked. Fortunately, their universal weaknesses are well known in AdWorld. Even though it's obviously a first date, it's time to pull out the big guns. The winning suggestion from her friends. "Ask him about Marriage" "Oh, and say your biological clock is ticking!" Yeah, Marriage on the first date, that'll scare him off. After all, we know all men are a) afraid of Committment, and b) scared of having kids. That surely would put a crimp in their pimpin' lifestyle.
Oh, and in case we weren't aware of it being a bad date, the guy comes back from the bathroom and huffs in her face, and says "Free mouthwash in the bathroom!"
(I'd kinda like to see the other half of the commercial, with the guy calling his buds on the phone in the bathroom trying to think of other ways to drive her off. It would NEVER happen. Because clearly this woman is perfect in every way - other than the lying thing.)
Guys also are a) slackers but b) so competitive they'll make up games and rules on the fly to deal with each other. So there's a McDonalds commercial with three roommates, two of whom are just slobbing around on the furniture, and one with a dress shirt and tie, who suggests they all get some McDonalds. Slacker #1 says the Job Guy is paying. "Why do I always have to pay?" he asks. "Because you've got the fancy job." Obviously not TOO fancy if they're going to McDonalds, and if paying is such a burden. This also implies his slacker roommates don't have jobs. Slacker #2 pipes up "and you have the fancy tie." Exasperated, Job Guy fumbles with his tie and pulls it off and throws it at Slacker #2, where it hits his leg and falls to the floor. "Now you have the fancy tie.", and Slacker #1 clarifies the apparent rule "You were the last one who touched it."
Have you seen a lot of slobby women in commercials? Well, maybe the harried housewife in a commercial for some household junk you order with an 800 number. But not in national campaigns for high end corporations like McDonalds.
I don't even HAVE to try to transcribe the Capital One commercials where the stupid dad drags his family all over the place at the wrong time because he's got the wrong credit card to take advantage of airline miles when he could actually use them. Like the Ski trip in the middle of summer....
The competent dad is a long dead breed.
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Anyone who knows me is well aware of my absolute loathing for the advertising and marketing industry and the "People" who populate it. Mostly this is because of the egregious assaults they make on the language and the culture in order to not so much make the sale, but to soften you up for the eventual salesman. Advertising long ago made the shift from trying to tell you the merits of a product to telling you how much you suck for not buying it.
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One of the worst assaults on the culture is the ongoing effort to Deconstruct Masculinity. That's what I created manbashingads for. (This is crossposted to both this and my personal blog).
But one should also consider the advertising industry's assault on the English language. For me, this goes back to the days of my Dad yelling at Burger King commercials about the pronoun disagreement in the jingle that sang "Everyone doing things their own way." (Blame feminism and political correctness for the death of the male pronouns serving double duty as gender neutral. That's why we don't have Policemen and Firemen any more, but Police Officers and Fire Fighters.)
But it's not just political correctness, playing fast and loose with grammar is a staple of an industry that is about lying but not lying by a technicality. In AdWorld, for example, Chocolaty is a NOUN, not an just adjective. The worst example of this was a "chocolate" snack cake I saw advertised once that was described as "Chocolaty cake filled with Chocolaty and layered with Chocolaty". There was no actual chocolate involved, just Cocoa, but it was the weird construction of the sentence that clued me in so that I could see it later. Marketers will say "Chocolaty Frosting" instead of "Chocolate Frosting" because apparently there are regulations about how much actual chocolate has to be in something before they can use the word. I applaud this one area of Federal regulation because otherwise Marketers would try to sell us carob, or mud (same difference really) as Chocolate or at least "Chocolate flavored".
But, the target of my current ire is Kentucky Fried Chicken.
They have now started advertising "Boneless Wings". Wow, Chicken Wings without the bone! How do they do that? They make them out of breast meat. The little text at the bottom of the ad says so.
Huh? Since when is a breast a wing? Since Wing became a marketing term for the form factor of a tiny shred of meat, instead of a real part of a bird. Just like Chocolaty doesn't mean Chocolate, now they don't even have to pretend to be an adjective. Just let the Ad Men redefine your reality for their convenience. Breast = Wing, 2 + 2 = 5, Mr. Winston, and There is no Spoon.
This morning I was treated to an endless number of Men are Stupid for Christmas ads. One that inspired me to write was this little gem from Gillette.
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Woman: "Boys are easy to shop for..."
Boy: "A battery powered truck!"
Woman: "... As long as it has a battery, they're happy. When they get older, it's not much different."
Man: "Wow, a battery powered razor!"
Woman - Spiel about the M2 Powered Razor.
Man: "Want to see eggnog come out of my nose? *snort snort*"
Woman: "Not much changes."
Yup, men are immature and easily distracted by chintzy gadgets. Thanks Gillette, for sticking up for your customer base.
Men get $12 razors, but women had better get $300 diamond earrings (which the idiot man who forgot about buying until the last minute) if you want a peaceful Christmas, at least in Ad-World.
By the way, a year or so ago I took part in a mall marketing survey (hey, five bucks is five bucks) and did my best to shoot down the idea of a FIVE BLADED razor Gilette was thinking of selling to compete with Schick's 4-bladed model. So you can all thank me for my small part in ending the multiple blade wars.
Sears is running a commercial where a man is enthusiasticly talking about the second rate gifts he's buying his family.
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"Here's the sled I got my son, I know it's not the Snowboard he wanted, but it's almost as good, Kinda. And my daughter, who wants a puppy, here's a Gerbil! And for my wife, a woman's second best friend, Cubic Zirconia!"
Stupid men reign in Radio commercials.
Garmin's little Navigation box (How is it that THREE companies have come out with nearly the exact same product at the same time?) is all about a guy being lost but not admitting it, and how their little box protects his masculinity.
"Tom" and his wife are sitting at a cafeteria table with a woman representing AOL (in one of their "Member" commercials). Tom is well into TMI territory, talking about his food allergies, a rash he's developing, not really talking to anyone in particular. He wife leans in towards the woman representing AOL and says "That's Tom's problem, he shares too much." She's talking about him as if he's not there. The AOL woman explains to the wife about their identity theft protection. Which of course they need because Tom is an idiot, and their broadband service makes Tom even MORE of a danger to himself. Tom needs a woman, and AOL (in the person of another woman) to protect him from himself and his Rain Man act.
T-Mobile has a series of "Poser Mobile" commercials, which follow a standard plot. Guy goes to use his cell phone, these freaks in outrageous "ghetto" getups show up to tell him he's out of pre-paid minutes and when he says "But I just bought minutes!" they tell him about all the extra fees he's just racked up. Then the guy goes to the T-Mobile store, where a very attractive woman in business attire explains how their prepaid plan is so much more straightforward, and equips him with the right phone.
So, how does this script play out with a woman? Pretty much the same, except when she gets to the T-Mobile store, it's self serve. She doesn't need the help of the shapely spokeswoman to pick out the right phone for herself. She just picks it up, looks at the package, and nods making a satisfied sound and goes.
Only guys need help with Technology. Uh huh.
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Man-bashing ad for Lenor:
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A man and his wife are in the car together. The wife looks in the glove compartment and pulls out a pair of knickers.
Wife: What are these?!
Husband: I swear, babe, I've never seen those before in my life!
Wife: (crying) You're not sleeping with me tonight!
The scene cuts to the woman, happy and sleeping on the bed alone. It turns out she wanted an excuse to have the bed clothes all to herself.
Comcast has long been a home for a Man-bashing ad agency. One of their latest offerings which I THINK is for some video mail feature of their internet service (it doesn't actually discuss the product very much.) It features a guy who is clearly not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, his face is almost entirely covered with band-aids of various sizes. He's talking about how great his camping trip was except for one thing. "I stuck a stick into a hornet's nest, just to see if there was anything in there. There was." There's the proof of the man being an idiot. It's not even particularly funny.
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State Farm, rather than working the "Men are Idiots" angle, worked the "Aren't you glad to be pussy-whipped?" female supremacist side. "After we got married we had two of everything." "We had to get rid of a lot of stuff." "Mostly MY stuff" says the guy, with the visual of his furniture going into a dumpster (the man's posessions clearly have no value, even for a garage sale). But they did go to HIS insurance company. She ends with a crack about him being right about something for once. Gotta get that last jab in there, donchewknow.
Grungy biker, in leathers and with a classic motorcycle is stuck in the desert. A Mom in a Minivan, a Dodge Grand Caravan to be exact, comes up. "Out of Gas? she says, offering rescue. She folds down the seat, relocating the sproglet into the other half of the fold down bench seat, and they load up the bike (lucky it's a small one, she takes charge of pushing it in). It's strapped down, and they settle into the front seats. Then in a very smug and condescending voice, the woman says "Daddy just HAD to get a Motorcycle, didn't he?" and pats him on the leg, relishing the horrible mistake he made that got him stuck in the desert where she had to pick him up. The Little girl sprogling in the back is heard to giggle, while Daddy says "Funny."
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So, we get Men are Stupid (Didn't buy gas), Men act impulsively (buying the motorcycle), and Men are helpless without women (the rescue). Plus the bonus ego smackdown from a "superior" woman.
Now, could you see a commercial with a guy say, belittling a woman for neglecting her car after changing a tire for her? I don't think so.
(Sorry for neglecting this folks. I'm going to try to get back to an Every Thursday schedule. But I may make up a few. There are SO many to choose from lately.)
The new "Steak Lovers Pizza" is being delivered by a girl to a house full of big manly men, who answer the door "Mmmm, Man Fuel!".
That is, until the thing on the Big Screen is revealed to be NOT the Big Game, but some Shop at Home channel selling Pretty Unicorn figurines. "They're statues!"
Yay, deconstruct that masculinity! Maybe this is the start of Phase Two. First masculinity was narrowly defined in ad-world, and now that image itself is being torn down, and the transformation from Man to Clown will be complete.
I just realized the same Sullen Woman from the previous 5-5-5 commercial is in another one where her withering glare is used to de-man her husband. The tremendously effective ad has left me forgetting exactly what it was for, but it started with the man standing back, proud of his accomplishment of hanging a gaudy velvet painting of a '70's black Kung Fu star. One withering glance later and we're told his prized painting is on it's way to the trash.
Men are not allowed to do interior decorating unless they are certifiably gay.
Interestingly, the last time I saw 5-5-5, it was re-cut to eliminate the whole "I fear change" exchange.
I do NOT flatter myself enough to think I had any influence on that.
Although if I did, that would be kinda cool. Now where's my consultancy fee?
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The scene opens with two guys at what appears to be a WiFi hotspot (which in theory would render the whole commercial moot) with their laptops on the table, comparing Netscape's $10 dial up with web accellerator to the other guy's $15 NetZero service. Suddenly, a woman comes up and stands behind them apparently for the sole purpose of making the NetZero guy look bad. It's actually not entirely clear that the second guy has NetZero until the Netscape guy suddenly has the need to high-five someone, and he does it with the woman, leaving the second guy hanging awkwardly. Otherwise she's only there to utter a compliment to the Netscape guy and leave.
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It's relatively mild as these things go. But I haven't had a good one in a while. Been busy.