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Dumb men commercials
March 23, 2011 12:34 AM   Subscribe

Stupid Man Commercials. Why?
posted by - (172 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It took me awhile to figure out all the things wrong with this Cheerios commercial they cite, because there are so many things.

1. The ad was originally from the UK, so all the US voice work is dubbed in.

2. They have to employ fast, confusing camera shots to obscure this fact.

3. Since the UK box art is different, they had to superimpose the American version, creating a weird floaty artifact where the cereal should be. It's the uncanny valley of cereal.

4. Steve's got weird eyebrows. The uncanny valley of eyebrows.

5. The dialogue is vapid and annoying.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:48 AM on March 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.
posted by fullerine at 12:50 AM on March 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


Interior. Day. The family, including STUPID DAD, are gathered around the television.

Stupid Dad: Hey, I've just noticed something about the media that you're not really supposed to notice.

Family (dissapointed): Aw, Dad!
posted by Artw at 12:51 AM on March 23, 2011 [57 favorites]


Because they're selling to women who are annoyed by their husbands.

Same as ads targeting men who show fat middle aged dudes surrounded by hot babes (Or like with Axe/Tag showing douchebag younger guys getting with hot babes)
posted by delmoi at 12:52 AM on March 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Because stupid people like to see themselves reflected in media, and they're arguably a majority (or at least half), and by seeing the media portray their stupidity as ultimately loveable, they feel better about their stupidity.
posted by klangklangston at 12:52 AM on March 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


Interior. Day. The family, including STUPID DAD, are gathered around the television.

Stupid Dad: Hey, how come there's no white history month?

Family (dissapointed): Aw, Dad!
posted by fullerine at 12:53 AM on March 23, 2011 [32 favorites]


Because stupid people like to see themselves reflected in media, and they're arguably a majority (or at least half), and by seeing the media portray their stupidity as ultimately loveable, they feel better about their stupidity.

I'm not THAT stupid. But I would like to feel better about my laziness and dirty apartment!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:54 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.


Maybe my sarcasm detector is off, but this is a strange thing to say. Who's threatened, insulted or enraged? I can't speak for others, but I'm mostly annoyed at an idiotic stereotype. Not much more to it.
posted by spiderskull at 12:54 AM on March 23, 2011 [64 favorites]


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.


I don't know, I think this is part of the spectrum of sexism that we're trying to change.

I.e., the man as utterly clueless when it comes to taking care of the family BECAUSE the woman is stereotypically seen as the responsible maternal caregiver.

(notice the woman practically rolling her eyes at the end of these commercials, like "ugh, just let me handle the kitchen from now on")
posted by naju at 12:55 AM on March 23, 2011 [96 favorites]


Because if you put a clueless woman in a commercial, Jezebel will jump all over your ass for weeks?
posted by scrowdid at 12:55 AM on March 23, 2011 [19 favorites]


(to put it another way: these commercials pretend to be "subvervise" about gender while actually reinforcing stereotypical gender roles)
posted by naju at 1:00 AM on March 23, 2011 [90 favorites]


Subversive.
posted by naju at 1:00 AM on March 23, 2011


I.e., the man as utterly clueless when it comes to taking care of the family BECAUSE the woman is stereotypically seen as the responsible maternal caregiver.
The other problem is that it portrays the wife as a mega-bitch who will flip out if you say anything that implies she's fat or unattractive or whatever, and that therefore men have to walk on eggshells in order to avoid offending them.

It's only portrays the man as being 'stupid' in his ability not to offend his wife. Look at her little smile at the end of the commercial.
posted by delmoi at 1:02 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


STAY IN YOUR ASSIGNED GENDER ROLE, PROGRESSIVE CITIZEN!
posted by Artw at 1:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [28 favorites]


There's a valid point to be made here about gender roles in adverts for household stuff, but that was a pretty weak ad to base it around...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 1:14 AM on March 23, 2011


I actually like that Cheerios commercial, perhaps because I sometimes behave stupidly in the mornings before I'm fully lucid. Oddly enough, the UK version of the commercial is shown here in Canada.
posted by Harpocrates at 1:17 AM on March 23, 2011


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.


Definitely not the best of Metafilter.
posted by rodgerd at 1:26 AM on March 23, 2011 [33 favorites]


Same as ads targeting men who show fat middle aged dudes surrounded by hot babes (Or like with Axe/Tag showing douchebag younger guys getting with hot babes)

You'll like this
posted by MuffinMan at 1:26 AM on March 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dumb men commercials stand out especially in contrast with all of the intelligent characters and situations which characterize modern television programming. Like that one time on that show that guy's stepmother came to stay with the family on vacation for, like, two weeks and turned out to be a total old battleaxe. Or that reality show where they follow assholes around with cameras all day and broadcast the results.
posted by chasing at 2:05 AM on March 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yay! Time for my oft repeated metafilter rant.

The thing that pisses me off about these ads is not that they're particularly offensive to men. It's that they utterly and irredeemably help to escalate sexist behaviour towards women.

When you've a bunch of adverts that say men
- Cannot perform boring kitchen tasks
- cannot feed themselves,
- are stupid
- cannot help their base primal urges
- need constant reassurance

You're helping along this weird stereotype which plays not to the infantalism of men, but plays towards positioning women as the primary caregiver and doer of boring chores.

Even more worrying is the implication that men are beasts who cannot help themselves. Everytime I see men portrayed as unevolved cavemen it makes me shudder. It's a stretch, but it's exactly this kind of "Man cannot help being animal" thinking that helps to justifysome violence towards women.

He needs a meatry snack because "Ug, Man Like Animal"
He needs things explained to him slowly because "Ug, Man Like Animal"
He can't help but leave the kitchen in a mess because "Ug, Man Like Animal"
You have to wear long skirts or burquas because "Ug, Man Like Animal"
It is your fault he did this because "Ug, Man Like Animal"

Every stupid / unevolved man advert out there reinforces male domination. Men may be poking fun at themselves, but they're doing it at the expense of women.
posted by seanyboy at 2:06 AM on March 23, 2011 [157 favorites]


Lady up?

Up to a point though, I think these commercials have stupid men and clever women for the same reasons that in the ancient world comedy often had a stupid master and clever slave, or Restoration comedy had a stupid employer and clever servant: because it's supposed to be a hilarious comic inversion of the reality.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:09 AM on March 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


(I meant mother-in-law, not stepmother. What is wrong with me?)
posted by chasing at 2:10 AM on March 23, 2011


We've been over this before and my Meta-Fu is weak, but some really great things were said in the last thread, wherever it is.
/stupid man
posted by hypersloth at 2:16 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


These shows and commercials wouldn't be made if they weren't so successful. I think they are successful because a majority of guys are dumb men, who are out of shape, not interesting and have a feeling of entitlement to be matched up with a stereotypical perfect catch.

That's true right? Wait, no, that's what I've been conditioned to think? Triple reverse? Everyone is smart and awesome!
posted by zephyr_words at 2:32 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there is a certain amount of reassurance built into these dumb man advertisements - or at least the ones aimed at men, like the cologne ads. The implied message to men is that you're on top, you've made it, no need to strive to be the best. Just enjoy yourself and let somebody else take care of you.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:34 AM on March 23, 2011


It's sort of a counter to the creeping feeling that men (especially white men) might be losing out in today's society. Can't get a job or compete with the kids today? Relax, you can still be dumb as you want at home and nobody will fire you.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:38 AM on March 23, 2011


I just want to let everybody know that I baked and iced a cake this morning. A fucking cake. I demand to see more advertising about men baking cakes. And also smoking pipes.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:05 AM on March 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


1. The ad was originally from the UK, so all the US voice work is dubbed in.

Funny thing is, the original accent is intact in the Canadian version. But we get American stations up here, too. We see both ads. Their accents change depending on which channel you're tuned to. This is very, very mind-fucky the first few times you see it.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:07 AM on March 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


zephyr_words, that's probably true, but your hamburger at the end seems to suggest that you think this makes the commercials better, somehow. I don't think it does.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:12 AM on March 23, 2011


fullerine: Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.


I won't speak to the presumption that the only motives for an adverse reaction to these ads would be 'feelings of threat, insult or rage'.

I do have to ask why, though, you would tell anyone here to 'man the fuck up'? I don't know whether you subscribe to some bizarre ideal of how men should behave and feel about themselves or -- even worse IMHO -- assume that so many others do. In either case, that's just fucking embarrassing.
posted by Anything at 3:31 AM on March 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.
Man the fuck up.


Because nothing defeats a bad stereotype like another bad stereotype.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:34 AM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


How does the guy in the Old Spice commercials figure into this?
posted by datter at 3:36 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's on a horse.
posted by Anything at 3:38 AM on March 23, 2011 [39 favorites]


As a man, I enjoy the irony of the insult "man up". It suggests that being "a man" is the highest ideal and anything short of that is, well, unmanly.

It's like when a woman says to me "grow a pair", "don't be such a pussy", etc. I can only interpret this as an admission that not having a pair of testicles or having a vagina is the same thing as being handicapped.

"Man up, TBM."

"I am a man."

"Well, grow pair then."

"I already have a pair."

"Don't be such a pussy."

"I don't have a vagina."

"Well, I mean, BE MORE LIKE A MAN."

"What do you really mean? Be less like you?"

See how that works?

Women up ladies. Women up.
posted by three blind mice at 3:43 AM on March 23, 2011 [27 favorites]


scrowdid: "Because if you put a clueless woman in a commercial, Jezebel will jump all over your ass for weeks?"

Well said.
posted by zarq at 4:11 AM on March 23, 2011


How does the guy in the Old Spice commercials figure into this?

In terms of gender politics? Easy: "Use this deodorant, get pussy."

It's just like the Axe ads, only they go the extra step of trying to convince the female audience that the product is desirable ... which is considerably more disgusting when you really think about it. They took Axe's "Hey guys, roofies can get you laid," and added, "Hey ladies, roofies taste great!"

Ick.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:13 AM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.


I agree with you that one should not look for a way to be offended and should generally take a stoic view of life. But this notion that men are stupid is growing and it should worry you. You can man up and nothing touches you, until the day that it does. Then what? Women tell me that this thing of being considered stupid just for what you are is a bitch to get rid of, and that it can be soul crushing at times, and just very annoying at other times.

Furthermore, while this may seem to balance a long time of women being considered stupid, it doesn't. All it does is legitimise the notion that one can be deemed stupid for their gender.

And to say Man up? What, did you just time travel here from the 60's?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:16 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jezebel will jump all over your ass for weeks

Twenty dollars, same as in town.

Sorry.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:16 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


As in many other cases, Sarah Haskins has beaten us to the punch on this. She brings up a good point by contrasting "big dumb man" commercials with really good-looking guys in beer and car commercials. Those dudes are generally single.

I'm not sure what is more annoying: that ad agencies have decided they can sell shit by portraying men as stupid, or that apparently it works.
posted by Maaik at 4:20 AM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I bring you Sarah Haskins on the subject.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 4:21 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the second link:

But there's some tired stereotypes out there that could use a rest.

Yeah. All of them. Every fucking one.
posted by Splunge at 4:25 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why hate on dumb-man commercials only? When I see a not-intelligence-insulting commercial, it's such a rare thing that I remark to that end to the wife.

"holy shit, that ad *didn't* insult the intelligence God gave cat fur lint."
posted by notsnot at 4:37 AM on March 23, 2011


The stupid man stereotype needs to die a violent gristly death. Like so many other aggressively pushed gender stereotypes, it means that heterosexual couples, no matter how good their intentions, start out that much further from peace and happiness.

I also understand from bitter experience the frustration of being with men who play up to the stereotype just because it's there and it's handy. It always reminded me of this Shel Silverstein poem.

If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
('Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won't let you
Dry the dishes anymore.

posted by stuck on an island at 4:38 AM on March 23, 2011 [26 favorites]


Ah well, screw this nonsense. I'm going to go light some farts.
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:39 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


(to put it another way: these commercials pretend to be "subvervise" about gender while actually reinforcing stereotypical gender roles)

Right. Notice that men are never shown as stupid in the workplace (unless it's about something like food, cleaning up, serving coffee, daycare, etc--i.e. women's work.

But I must admit that my first annoyance at this stereotypes is simply that it's so cliché.
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on March 23, 2011


Because if you put a clueless woman in a commercial, Jezebel will jump all over your ass for weeks?

I admit that I take no small pleasure in seeing that the woman from the 1-800-DENTIST commercials is now shilling for Metamucil. I feel this is the ideal justice, because it is not her fault that, as a struggling actress, she took on a role as perhaps one of the most annoying strawshills in recent memory. Her character is so much more willfully obtuse than any of the Dumb Husbands I can think of and the actress played it to the hilt. She got in there and did her best.

Which got her another role.

Selling poopjuice.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:42 AM on March 23, 2011


Yeah, they're still cranking out stupid women commercials too. Relying on sexist stereotypes (of any nature) is pretty lazy, and says a lot about the general imbecility of the advertising world as well as prevalence of gendered role assignment in society.
posted by Go Banana at 4:48 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why hate on dumb-man commercials only? When I see a not-intelligence-insulting commercial, it's such a rare thing that I remark to that end to the wife.

"holy shit, that ad *didn't* insult the intelligence God gave cat fur lint."


I'll quote myself from an earlier thread.
Note that a lot of these ads don't fit into the crypto-patriarchal category of 'man useless in the kitchen' but do instead to 'stupid clumsy dork useless at everything'.

Given that advertisers [do not prefer to] spend money and get nothing in return, a lot of women out there must respond depressingly well to this trash. If you resent your husband that much, will you a) talk to him and work it out b) DTMFA or c) let yourself gradually identify him with a bunch of caricatures you can feel superior to?
I hate a wide variety of ads but if this particular kind does draw special negative attention from me, it's probably in part because they seem to encourage unhealthy relationships.
posted by Anything at 4:48 AM on March 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


When I see these, I can't help but wonder why all these strong, attractive, intelligent, self-confident women have ended up married to a bunch of fat stupid dorkuses. There's a subtext here about why women have made compromises in their choice of partners and find themselves resigned to life with dimwits. The ads are ultimately a little insulting to the women as well.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:55 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whatever happened to gray hoodie lady?
posted by fixedgear at 5:04 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man the fuck up.
...
Lady up?
...
Women up.


ANTE UP
posted by Greg Nog at 5:04 AM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Didn't we already do this?
posted by John Cohen at 5:13 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I see these, I can't help but wonder why all these strong, attractive, intelligent, self-confident women have ended up married to a bunch of fat stupid dorkuses. There's a subtext here about why women have made compromises in their choice of partners and find themselves resigned to life with dimwits.

Possibly the oldest TV trope of them all.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:15 AM on March 23, 2011


What the fuck even is this? Ugh.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:16 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man the fuck up.
...
Lady up?
...
Women up.

ANTE UP


ANTE UP
posted by Lucinda at 5:18 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given that advertisers [do not prefer to] spend money and get nothing in return, a lot of women out there must respond depressingly well to this trash.

I don't know if anything has changed in the past 15 years since I was doing market research surveys for TV commercials, but at least in the late 90s, when they tested these, they would screen for people who do most of the grocery shopping in their households. The vast majority of these were women. In fact, if I ever recruited a male respondent, the manager would question it. (They also had hard 10% quotas on black people, which was tough, considering that I lived in an area where the population was 20% black, but that's a different story).

Anyway, commercials with dumb husbands always scored well.

So I guess the reason they do these is because they work for the intended audience.
posted by empath at 5:23 AM on March 23, 2011


They also had hard 10% quotas on black people, which was tough, considering that I lived in an area where the population was 20% black, but that's a different story

And by 'quota', i mean we could recruit more than 10% black respondents. They didn't care if we got 0.
posted by empath at 5:24 AM on March 23, 2011


bah.. NO MORE than...
posted by empath at 5:25 AM on March 23, 2011


If there's one thing I've learned from TV commercials it's that men are perpetually incompetent adolescent oafs, but it's OK because women derive great joy from wiping up their messes with paper towels, masking their odors with fragrant aeresols, and doing their laundry after they spill food all over themselves.
posted by usonian at 5:25 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since we don't watch television, go to the cinema, listen to commercial radio, subscribe to magazines, read billboards or notice ads online (thanks AdBlock+) -- and haven't for probably a decade or so, ... intentionally concentrating and inhaling the toxic mindfuck of modern advertising is a real shock.

I become convinced that constant exposure is severely damaging some categories of high level thought processes in the majority of the population, including most importantly that of critical evaluation of novel stimuli and the capacity for prolonged consideration of arbitrarily complex topics.

Especially troubling is that there is no collective agency on the planet that would benefit from a return to contemplative, thoughtful consideration -- vs. soundbite "wisdom" -- in the populace at large, so there is absolutely no chance that this global trend will reverse.

I suppose at some point people who are willing and able to just stop and think about stuff will have enough of an advantage over the dopamine addled masses that there will be some kind of sea change... but I really don't know.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:31 AM on March 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Stupid Dad of 2011's tv commercials was the Smartass Kid of the 1980s' tv commercials.

I find that worrying.
posted by ardgedee at 5:35 AM on March 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Eh, whatever. If an advert doesn't work for you, you're not the target audience.

I'd guess that just about 100% of "doofy husband" ads are for products for which the purchasing decision is primarily made by women, and the ad companies know this.

Portray a doofy husband, and you get two unconscious psychological results:

1 - his opinion is instantly discounted or ignored in the decision; and
2 - she feels empowered in her decision to go with Product X, as she is *obviously* the clever one who knows all about this stuff, since hubby is such a doofus.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:39 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


six-or-six-thirty: I don't even understand that ad at all. Are they saying the woman is dumb for photographing her vulva when there's a lion nearby and she has balls for doing it?

I don't say this as a "would I need a TV to understand this" type of thing, but I'm really, really glad I stopped watching broadcast television (except for sporting events). When I see these kinds of commercials, all it makes me want to do is never buy any of the products. I hate almost all commercials (except ones where Lamar Odom or Ray Lewis are showing Saturn who's boss).

I think part of the reason why it works is that it might be a reverse psychology thing? Traditionally, men have sort of ruled everything. When these commercials show men in compromising positions (or being incompetent), it looks like they're saying "men are dumb lol, amirite ladies?" However, as many upthread have pointed out, they're actually reinforcing stereotypes for women, subconsciously telling them that their place is in the home, taking care of the menial tasks for their lumbering asshole husbands who "bring home the bacon".

The woman's job is to fry it up. Then clean the stains off the shirt of her husband after they inevitably get bacon grease all over it. Then throw away the leftovers in these awesome new trash bags that will totally never tear open, even if you're Jackie Chan and using them to fight ninjas.

Man, for someone who claims to hate commercials, I sure do know a lot of them, don't I?
posted by King Bee at 5:40 AM on March 23, 2011


They're not really offensive to men. And it doesn't matter who their intended audience is. What does matter is that this kind of advertising presents really unhealthy relationships.
posted by yesster at 5:43 AM on March 23, 2011


Man, the Fuck-up, has been revered
and mocked at least since prehistoric
times, by which I mean to say
since Flintstones walked the Earth,
when slender Wilma and Betty
always caught the thick-set boys
red-handed, always doing something
dumb that only men would do,
like sneak off with Joe Rockhead
to conventions packed with bathing
beauties, gambling, smoking, dancing
girls, while Wilma suckled Pebbles, but
it worked out right despite I'm going
home to mother threats, because
Ohhh, Fred!
posted by pracowity at 5:47 AM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


men portrayed as unevolved cavemen

Dear cavemen who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice ...
posted by octobersurprise at 5:52 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to point out that commercials are sold not to the target audience but to the corporate executives who buy them, who are (STEREOTYPE WARNING) largely middle aged men. Dumb men commercials exist because middle-aged marketing execs still think they are funny, not because they work. They think this because twenty years ago when they were starting in the industry, dumb men commercials were actually something new and mildly subversive.

To those who think men should just shut up and take it because HURF DURF PATRIARCHY I say you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
posted by unSane at 5:55 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't the premise for Everybody Loves Raymond, The King of Queens, etc.?
Ick. Annoying cliches abound.
posted by Hop123 at 5:55 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does matter is that this kind of advertising presents really unhealthy relationships.

It seems like every commercial break includes at least one or two ads about a couple who hate each other, as if naked antagonism is normal. Fuck that noise.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:02 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The idea that advertising works in the way advertising execs think it does is just as ludicrous as the idea that men really are all idiots and all women are dreadful control freaks.
posted by jasperella at 6:05 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure glad weak-liberal cliches about feminism entered this thread early enough to keep things like this from getting the genders to *ally* over complex expressions of patriarchy. If we responded to these ads and such with the understanding that, while we do not underestimate the inequality that affects women specifically, they reinforce a structure that forces *everyone* into rigid and life-denying roles . . . well, that would change things.

And we can't have that.
posted by mobunited at 6:06 AM on March 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


they're actually reinforcing stereotypes for women, subconsciously telling them that their place is in the home, taking care of the menial tasks for their lumbering asshole husbands who "bring home the bacon".

The even shittier thing, and this is based on my impressions and interpretations of the picture they're trying to paint of women in these commercials, is that the women are not necessarily supposed to be purely domestic goddesses or stay at home moms, but women who work a full day, shuttle the kids around to their activities, then come home and cook and clean up after their husbands who can't use a blender, or a washing machine, or wipe up a spill, don't get the Internet, and have no clue what a wireless connection is.

I guess this is supposed to appeal to women who are juggling career and family -- which is many of them -- by portraying them as totally in control of their lives and surroundings. The reality is, of course, that a woman who is actually working full time and caring for children plus an idiotic, unhelpful spouse probably just feels harried and trapped. But I guess assuming they're trapped, the best way to make them buy your shit is to sell the illusion of control.

It's really too early for me to think about something that depressing...
posted by hegemone at 6:09 AM on March 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Previously on this topic from me.

And I wouldl like to point out that there are men who buy into this and think it's charming and manly when they're useless at things TV men are useless at, particularly those things associated with women. It's offensive when it's presented, but damaging when it influences people beyond their product buying. Let's see some commercials where grown-ups who don't know how to do things do what grown-ups who don't know how to do things do: Find out and learn.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:11 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't be the only reading this and comparing the comments here to the ones in the Duke Nukem one. Is everyone else scared of the flameout and the derail, or is that going on in the other thread?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:13 AM on March 23, 2011


How does the guy in the Old Spice commercials figure into this?

In terms of gender politics? Easy: "Use this deodorant, get pussy."


I use Old Spice deodorant, and I certainly have all the pussy I want (that is, one), so I guess it works.
posted by orange swan at 6:14 AM on March 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is just one of the many reasons Netflix streaming is so popular in my house. But it is a bit disconcerting to discover how short shows are without the commercials.
posted by tommasz at 6:16 AM on March 23, 2011


DU: Notice that men are never shown as stupid in the workplace (unless it's about something like food, cleaning up, serving coffee, daycare, etc--i.e. women's work.
Are you sure?
posted by Western Infidels at 6:17 AM on March 23, 2011


...they would screen for people who do most of the grocery shopping in their households. The vast majority of these were women. In fact, if I ever recruited a male respondent, the manager would question it.

Had this manager of yours ever actually been in a grocery store after 1954? Because, while doing most of the grocery shopping in my household, I saw plenty of other men doing the same.
posted by DU at 6:17 AM on March 23, 2011


I can't be the only reading this and comparing the comments here to the ones in the Duke Nukem one.

Now I'm picturing a Duke Nukem yogurt commercial. Thanks.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:21 AM on March 23, 2011


passive/aggressive people, (not "stupid" people), can often get their way - they can often be manipulated by people who want to influence them, too

thus the ongoing encouragement of passive/aggressive "stupidity" by our media
posted by pyramid termite at 6:28 AM on March 23, 2011


Irrelevant aside:

I am not surprised to find out that the Cheerios commercial was dubbed. Every time I saw it I would think "there's something Euro-looking about this," and even specifically thought the woman probably looked like a Brit. It's nice to know that my annoying New England tendency to try to gauge everyone's ancestry on appearance is functioning accurately.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:28 AM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you were the ad exec and you had to choose if Dad or Mom was going to be the stupid one who would you choose and how could you justify that? The comedy relies on one person being silly/dumb so you need to choose one for the ad to work at all.
posted by zeoslap at 6:37 AM on March 23, 2011


Has anyone heard the new Buffalo Wild Wings radio ad that has been airing during March Madness? I was on a road trip last week and wanted to scream after I heard it for about the fiftieth time.

I can't link to it at work, but the basic premise is to present a man with two options: you can stay home and watch the games, or you can come to Buffalo Wild Wings and watch the games.

At home the man is nagged by the most horrendous-sounding shrew. She has the audacity to vacuum while he is watching the game! AND she REFUSES to bring him a BEER!

But at Buffalo Wild Wings? A peppy young waitress is thrilled to bring you anything you want!

I was irritated to hear something so blatantly pandering to the basest predilections playing over and over and over on my mp3-jack-less rental.
posted by jefficator at 6:37 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Supplemental: Metafilter's analysis of Super Bowl 2010 ads.
posted by ao4047 at 6:39 AM on March 23, 2011


The comedy relies on one person being silly/dumb so you need to choose one for the ad to work at all.

I'd be more likely to buy this if the ads were funny.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:40 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since we don't watch television, go to the cinema, listen to commercial radio, subscribe to magazines, read billboards or notice ads online (thanks AdBlock+) -- and haven't for probably a decade or so

Wow. Someone really just upped the ante.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 AM on March 23, 2011 [25 favorites]


As a billboard hater I understand the impulse to avoid looking at them. I also understand the impulse to alter them, and the impulse to destroy them. But if I never looked at a billboard I never would have caught the very plainly bondage-themed poster for Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels...
posted by jtron at 6:58 AM on March 23, 2011


The comedy relies on one person being silly/dumb so you need to choose one for the ad to work at all.

Make a different ad? Or make a series where a different character is dumb in each?
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on March 23, 2011


dammit "alter" was supposed to link here but me am dum
posted by jtron at 6:59 AM on March 23, 2011


Related
posted by jtron at 7:01 AM on March 23, 2011


Next time you get a chance, flip through an IKEA catalog. It frequently portrays men as being competent and responsible, including caring for children, preparing meals, and doing other household tasks without female supervision.
posted by SemiSophos at 7:02 AM on March 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Since we don't watch television, go to the cinema, listen to commercial radio, subscribe to magazines, read billboards or notice ads online (thanks AdBlock+) -- and haven't for probably a decade or so

Whenever I buy new clothes I cut all the labels out so I don't get advertised to while dressing.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:02 AM on March 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow. Someone really just upped the ante.

ACTUALLY I LIVE IN A DITCH
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:05 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, they're still cranking out stupid women commercials too.
I'm sure they are, but "I used to get lost before I had a GPS; Turbo Tax is like a GPS for my taxes" seems like a pretty mild example at best.

Also, it seems fundamentally different; it's not making fun of her, it's not portraying her as inhumanly dumb, she's clearly the protagonist of the commercial, and it's aimed at selling to people like her rather than to people who want to feel superior to people like her.
posted by Flunkie at 7:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


in the most general terms, ads are selling you shit you don't need. if it was stuff you needed, there wouldn't be an ad. in order to sell you shit you don't need, ads try to convince you that you do indeed need that shit. so ads concoct unrealistic situations which actually call for the use of that shit they're trying to sell. apparently, the most offensive of such unrealistic situations is suburban married couple with two kids where incompetent man works and strong woman is head of the household.

i agree that this is outrageous, but probably not for the same reasons.
posted by lulz at 7:12 AM on March 23, 2011


In terms of gender politics? Easy: "Use this deodorant, get pussy."

I think that isn't not necessarily bad to sell sex with smelly spray, or at least it's better to imply "this is optional and will get you laid" rather than the other angles you can take like "be considerate of others and cover your sinful and offensive odors" (extreme social conformity) or the whispering gal talk confessionals of old time deodorant ads for women telling you the reason your husband hates you is that you stink and you have a duty.

Though it is odd that female products of the deodorant nature show that you will either be free and physically active (also a popular angle for menstrual products) or that it won't ruin your clothing (oddly enough, something also sold with pads and tampons when they bray about being leak proof). But perfume ads, which overlap with the axe/old spice, sell sex like a romance novel, but sex none the less, albeit with wistful roof tops, blowing fabrics and other things you'd find on the cover of "My Lady Mistress/Passion & Flame/Her Ripped Bodice". Smell as a part of sex is at least better than smell as a social duty.

Another voice for Ikea. Mmmm, cute Swedish families, equally distributed household labour and variable quality highly cheap furniture.
posted by Phalene at 7:25 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Stupid man" commercials are deeply, deeply sexist and gross. (I'm a woman, a feminist, etc etc). They rely on the pre-feminist trope of "the sexes are so different! and they are at war!!!! It doesn't matter whether it's men who are stupid and women smart or the other way round, men who are dangerously lustful (today) or women (late middle ages); this trope forecloses the possibility of a loving, equal relationship between a man and a woman. It also either obscures or renders criminal/dangerous/freakish the commonalities between men and women. You, a woman, don't know what's in the fridge? How bizarre!! You, a man, get tired of waiting for your partner to get out of bed? What kind of nancy boy are you? You, a man and a woman, have a normal, low-conflict relationship in which you both make mistakes sometimes? Simply impossible! You must be repressed or out of touch with your masculinity/femininity--time for the shrink, some Iron John and Sex and the City DVDs.

Plus, they're depressing. I am supposed to accept a relationship with an overgrown doofus like this because that's just how men are? Please!

I mean, I assume that these commercials appeal to people (men and women) trapped in awful, stressful relationships where communication is bad and gender "norms" are unquestioned. It must be comforting, if you're a woman who believes and accepts that men will always be dogs/lazy/stupid/greedy/sleazy, to see this reflected in the media. If you're a man who feels like a fuck-up, doesn't have a good adult male role model or wants an excuse to get out of chores, these commercials must naturalize that as well. Either way, I want no part of it.
posted by Frowner at 7:26 AM on March 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


if it was stuff you needed, there wouldn't be an ad.

This is sometimes true, but certainly not always. Often, the ad exists so that you don't buy the competitor's brand of shit you need.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I buy new clothes I cut all the labels out so I don't get advertised to while dressing.

Hey you do that too? Have you figured out a way to deal with all the aligator-shaped holes?
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:28 AM on March 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


A fucking cake.

Hey, fucking is great, but it dosen't demand a cake, like a birthday or something...
posted by jonmc at 7:30 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I can understand pandering to macho shit to promote a spots bar, but Cheerios for crying out loud?
posted by jonmc at 7:30 AM on March 23, 2011


A sports bar. I have no idea what a spots bar is.
posted by jonmc at 7:31 AM on March 23, 2011


they reinforce a structure that forces *everyone* into rigid and life-denying roles

They sure do. The 'put-down the friend to build up the mark' tactic has a long history of use in the seductive arts. It exploits every individual's basic desire for higher status, turning our own ugliness against us and amplifying it. Being bombarded all the time by every flavour of this shit is the problem, not the shittiness of this particular flavour.
posted by Casimir at 7:35 AM on March 23, 2011


There's enough stupid men commercials to inspire a blog dedicated entirely to the subject.

Yeah, a blog with 5 entries in the past year. Probably not the best example to use toshow how prevalent an idea is.
posted by jeffmik at 7:36 AM on March 23, 2011


Isn't the Simpsons the worst offender for this stereotype? And isn't Homer Simpson supposed to be the greatest TV character ever?

A nice sketch about female/male targeted advertising.
posted by Summer at 7:37 AM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Women tend to do much more around the house and I see the liking for these commercials as related by Empath as:

1) an expression of resentment and contempt for a "useless" spouse
2) reassurance that the division of labor is unfair not because my husband is selfish/lazy/sexist but because men are incapable--it can't be helped
3) the feeling that housework/childcare is skilled and relatively difficult and therefore being able to accomplish it is a source of pride
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:37 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just sent all of these commercials to my wife in an email under the false pretense of "funny commercials", hoping that they will subconsciously convince her that she has to take care of me and do all the chores around the house since I am a feckless moron who just needs meat and sex. 'Cause right now, that ain't happening.
posted by gagglezoomer at 7:37 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go Banana: Yeah, they're still cranking out stupid women commercials too.

I was going to say "Hey, there's a TurboTax "GPS" ad with a guy! They're not being sexist!" Except the guy doesn't specifically say he gets "lost a lot" without GPS. Hmm.

Question: are any of these ads really successful? Have they actually swayed public opinion about a product? Have Multi-Grain Cheerios sold better, or Eggo Waffles increased in sales? Or are they all sad attempts to keep up brand recognition? I'm sure someone could be hungry and think "hmm, waffles do sound good about now." Or "I could really go for a bowl of cereal now." Or are they only useful when they're really note-worthy, something that people talk about for weeks to come (see: The Old Spice Guy).

I understand and agree that the commercials are shallow, but do they have to be deep, or even balanced? Stereotypes are crude short-hand, conveying characters in 30 second clips. They don't have to ring true to the viewer, they just can't turn someone away (which some of these do), or be something completely foreign to the viewer. "Who is that guy, and why does he like frozen breakfasts? Oh - those are supposed to be waffles, and he doesn't cook. I understand now."

I'm not supporting these dumb ads, but I'm wondering if it's because ad companies are lazy and need to keep beating the viewer over the head with the same brands they already know from the last two ad breaks (and in some cases, brands that have been around for generations). McDonalds is not an unknown commodity. Burger King is not edging towards bankruptcy. But they both keep shouting at the crowds - "hey, remember us? We have food you like!"
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 AM on March 23, 2011


if it was stuff you needed, there wouldn't be an ad.

This is sometimes true, but certainly not always. Often, the ad exists so that you don't buy the competitor's brand of shit you need.


This part. I made a choice to have a car, so I need car insurance. It's mandated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where I reside. Car insurance is fungible, so the endless State Farm/Nationwide/GEICO commercials are intended to differentiate their products.
posted by fixedgear at 7:42 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey you do that too? Have you figured out a way to deal with all the aligator-shaped holes?

you get an alligator tattoo on your chest
posted by pyramid termite at 7:46 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I share domestic ineptitude equally with my wife. I still don't know which cabinets things are supposed to go in, and she still doesn't realize you have to wipe crud off of dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. We have a good relationship.
posted by Foosnark at 7:51 AM on March 23, 2011


Dear Men who feel threatened, insulted or even enraged by this injustice.

Man the fuck up.
posted by fullerine at 8:50 AM on March 23


Ah yes, sexism is okay when directed at men, just like racism is okay when directed at white people.

Fuck that hypocritical bullshit.
posted by Decani at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley: "It's nice to know that my annoying New England tendency to try to gauge everyone's ancestry on appearance is functioning accurately"

Fuck me. No *wonder* I feel so out of place in the Midwest, even though I was born here. (could also be the only kid in gradeschool that wasn't either Italian, Irish, or German.)
posted by notsnot at 7:58 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miler Light's "Man Up" ad campaign, created by Draftfcb and the production company aptly named Tool, takes "Stupid Man" to new levels; not only is he is publicly humiliated by women, he is derided by his male friends.
posted by wensink at 8:00 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man down! Man down!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:01 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am not surprised to find out that the Cheerios commercial was dubbed. Every time I saw it I would think "there's something Euro-looking about this," and even specifically thought the woman probably looked like a Brit.

I feel your pain - but you should be aware that the reverse also applies: smiles a little too perfect, attitude worryingly enthusiastic, exterior sunlight a little too bright - probably an American redub. Plus Bonus feature: dumb male child!!!
posted by rongorongo at 8:07 AM on March 23, 2011


Isn't the Simpsons the worst offender for this stereotype? And isn't Homer Simpson supposed to be the greatest TV character ever?

The Simpsons has a complicated relationship to the Fat Dumb Dad Stereotype. First, the show is clearly playing off of the established trope and doesn't just blindly perpetuate it. At least in the early seasons, Homer was at least trying hard to be a good father, and even if he wasn't always succeeding, he was generally doing better than Ralph Kramden or Al Bundy. A whole lot of people say The Simpsons jumped the shark is when Homer got so dumb that it overwhelmed his very human striving to overcome his weaknesses as a man and a father. In contrast, most of the other Fat Dumb Dads barely try except for the occasional hug and dispensation of simple wisdom and also have an undercurrent of malice toward their family. It's not a yawning gulf between Homer and the guy from King of Queens or whoever, but I would definitely say that The Simpsons grapples with the stereotype and goes on to transcend it, at least a bit.

Miler Light's "Man Up" ad campaign, created by Draftfcb and the production company aptly named Tool, takes "Stupid Man" to new levels; not only is he is publicly humiliated by women, he is derided by his male friends.

Ugh. Those commercials are uniformly awful on basically every level, from the morals they espouse to the model of bartender/customer interaction they present to the stupid voice of the guy saying, "Man up."
posted by Copronymus at 8:09 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's telling that they need overinflated macho to sell Light Fucking Beer.
posted by jonmc at 8:13 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm glad I now know who makes those Man Up Miller Lite commercials so I can kick them in the balls if I ever meet them.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:14 AM on March 23, 2011


this kind of advertising presents really unhealthy relationships.
posted by Maaik at 8:14 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miler Light's "Man Up" ad campaign

Jesus fuck. It's like they pitched, "Don't be a fag!" and were asked to tone it down just enough to fly on TV.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:19 AM on March 23, 2011 [15 favorites]


Shouldn't women be smart enough to be insulted that advertisers think they are stupid enough to believe that men are stupid?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:20 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


jonmc: "A sports bar. I have no idea what a spots bar is"

That's easy. It's a bar, with TVs that show sports all the time and serve hot wings... and... well...

It's a bar...

With sports in the name...

Fuck it.
posted by Splunge at 8:25 AM on March 23, 2011


if it was stuff you needed, there wouldn't be an ad.

This is sometimes true, but certainly not always. Often, the ad exists so that you don't buy the competitor's brand of shit you need.

This part. I made a choice to have a car, so I need car insurance. It's mandated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where I reside. Car insurance is fungible, so the endless State Farm/Nationwide/GEICO commercials are intended to differentiate their products.


my comment was expressly a generality, but differentiation of products is still selling you on ephemereal distinctions between like products; oft times these distinctions are trivial or false
posted by lulz at 8:27 AM on March 23, 2011


ANTE UP.

HEY. I'll thank you to leave my auntie out of this.
posted by bakerina at 8:31 AM on March 23, 2011


Shouldn't women be smart enough to be insulted that advertisers think they are stupid enough to believe that men are stupid?

I think both genders are guilty of buying into and playing out these stereotypes in real life. In my last office job (in PR) the men were often presumed to be a bit scatterbrained and unorganised, if strategically talented (unless they were gay), while the women were presumed to be red-hot organisers and phone jockeys who kept the place running. This in turn led to promotion for the men to roles that were high paid, creative and strategic, while many of the capable women remained in the low-paid 'doer' jobs.

There was one male director who was famed for being unable to send his own emails, passing them over to his 'secretary' (there weren't meant to be any secretaries) to compose and send for him. In effect he pushed a young female account exec into a secretarial role because "aw, he's so old fashioned and slow he can't even send his own emails. Men eh?" He probably earned about £50K more than the 'secretary' who sent the email, in a company that was supposed to be structurally quite flat.
posted by Summer at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


probably an American redub.

I'm not doubting that they exist, but I don't think that the linked ad really is one-- an under-counter washer in the kitchen is basically unknown in the US outside of tiny-but-expensive urban spaces. It's possible that they shot the commercial intending to dub it and did two different washer scenes, though.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2011


It's telling that they need overinflated macho to sell Light Fucking Beer.

Woah, woah, woah. If it doesn't need cake, it doesn't need beer.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2011


These shows and commercials wouldn't be made if they weren't so successful. I think they are successful because a majority of guys are dumb men, who are out of shape, not interesting and have a feeling of entitlement to be matched up with a stereotypical perfect catch.

I actually pondered this question a few days ago while watching the local news. If you haven't noticed, most commercials tend to suck. They really do. There's hardly any entertainment value in them, I don't want to watch them. Quite simply put, the bleach-blond idiot woman who blabbers on the Mattress World (local bed store) commercials isn't convincing me to buy her overpriced beds, in fact, I specifically won't go to her shitty store to do so. Even that cloroxed idiot has done stupid guy commercials in the past.

Many of the commercials that tend to be overtly sexist seem to do with food or cleaning; hardly any of them tend to be memorable. I don't have any marketing or advertising background, but I just can't figure out why they constantly make commercials for these products that all follow the same "stupid man" script. Are they really successful because of the script, or are they successful because everyone has seen ads for Eggo brand frozen waffles 300+ times?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:36 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Woah, woah, woah. If it doesn't need cake, it doesn't need beer.

Everything needs beer, sir.
posted by jonmc at 8:37 AM on March 23, 2011


No, no, no. Ante up.
posted by norm at 8:37 AM on March 23, 2011


Man the fuck up.

No, you're doing it wrong. It's harden the fuck up.
posted by ob at 8:38 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somebody on metafilter once described this an "inversion of somethingsomething" akin to Jeeves and Wooster. The individual with all the real power is portrayed as dumb or incompetent.

Anyone remember the what they said this was? I'm a guy so im pretty dumb about words and suffs like that.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:41 AM on March 23, 2011


No, it's fuck it, let's go bowling.
posted by jonmc at 8:41 AM on March 23, 2011


I'm less impressed with the idea about inherent sexism of these ads. I'm going with the very old trope of inversion as the primary reason these ads (and comedy themes) are so common, and work as well as they do. To make a humorous ad featuring a woman, or a person of color as an incompetent boob, contrasting against, say, a WASP male authority figure, takes some incredible comic chops, lest it be considered blatantly offensive. As opposed to the kind of offense many here seem to take, which takes a good amount of over thinking.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


ACTUALLY I LIVE IN A DITCH

We used to dream of living in a ditch . . .
posted by The Bellman at 8:46 AM on March 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Isn't the Simpsons the worst offender for this stereotype?

And yet the very earliest Tracey Ullman era shorts he wasn't at all, really.

Mostly though, what Delmoi said back at the top. What kind of ads do they show during football games?
posted by IndigoJones at 8:55 AM on March 23, 2011


Not offended. Not offended. Baffled.
posted by yesster at 8:57 AM on March 23, 2011


The individual with all the real power is portrayed as dumb or incompetent.

KEYSER SOZE!!
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:59 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The sexism is in the fact that this portrayal is the gold standard of this type of advertising. Women must always be the caretakers of their broods and their idiot men, men must always be the dumbshits, so that we can see if women are the only ones capable of competent household work, why even allow men to try when they're just going to screw it up and make a mess? Best to just let the gals handle the cooking and cleanup, right? This is a sexist stereotype, for both men and women, and it doesn't benefit anyone to perpetuate it. No one's asking for a reversal with portrayals of women acting like idiots, just that maybe everyone, men and women, could be depicted as capable, grown-ass adults.

I mean, wouldn't that be nice? I would love to see more advertising take the gender egalitarianism of Ikea. At the very least I'd resent commercial breaks so much less!
posted by hegemone at 9:00 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


What kind of ads do they show during football games?

On Fox Soccer (wrong football, I know), they seem to insist on showing ProActive commercials non-stop. While there may be a lot of crossover between Katy Perry fans and Chelsea fans, I'm not sure the same can be said for most of their viewing audience.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:07 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always took the "stupid man" trope in TV commercials to be the result of lazy hack writers trying to do comedy. "Stupid Man" has been a popular character on TV since at least the Honeymooners, and goes back further than that on stage, literature, and even Punch and Judy puppet shows. Even stupid people like to laugh at people stupider than themselves. It's low, lazy humor and can actually be pretty funny when done well. It doesn't always need to fall into some easy category in the Gender Wars.
posted by Hoopo at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The individual with all the real power is portrayed as dumb or incompetent.

KEYSER SOZE!!


*heh* Almost, but not quite. Soze choosing the guise of Verbal is something that character did himself, not something which is inherent to his being. It's his way of being the purloined letter, hiding in plain sight. Unless your interpretation of this is really meta, I don't really feel it fits.

posted by hippybear at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2011


On Fox Soccer (wrong football, I know), they seem to insist on showing ProActive commercials non-stop. While there may be a lot of crossover between Katy Perry fans and Chelsea fans, I'm not sure the same can be said for most of their viewing audience.

A soccer fan I know, who doesn't otherwise interface much with popular culture, apparently thought for a long time that Katy Perry was "that woman from the Proactive commercials" and was shocked when anyone else had heard of her.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:12 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soze choosing the guise of Verbal is something that character did himself, not something which is inherent to his being.

The hegemon used perception of himself as a dolt to further his hegemony, which was kinda the point, but mostly, I was being flippant.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:14 AM on March 23, 2011


jonmc: "A sports bar. I have no idea what a spots bar is"

Jackson Pollock on the walls, furniture by Damien Hirst?

I don't know if it's still true, but agencies and agency customers were historically nervous of a man doing any domestic task well, in case it made him look gay or like he couldn't get a woman. So, if a man was acting as primary caregiver, as in this classic British stupid man/smartass kid commercial, you had to establish in the opening line that Dad was only looking after the baby because his wife was briefly away, and normal service would soon be restored.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:20 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somebody on metafilter once described this an "inversion of somethingsomething" akin to Jeeves and Wooster. The individual with all the real power is portrayed as dumb or incompetent.

TheophileEscargot said something like that earlier in this thread, but you might be talking about more previously than that.
posted by gladly at 9:21 AM on March 23, 2011


In my world, Hugh Grant does all the household chores competently, and I'm in bedroom upstairs sleeping.
posted by dracomarca at 9:21 AM on March 23, 2011


For some reason the Yoplait commercial always got all over my nerves whenever I saw it. I don't know if it's because I haven't really ever seen these other commercials, and when my wife and I happened to be living somewhere with television and cable I couldn't get away from the Yoplait one, or what.
For the record, the first time we both saw it, we looked at each other with that "WTF?!?!" look on our faces.
I have to jump on the bandwagon with everyone here who has spoken about these commercials reinforcing negative stereotypes about "guys". Also, I see the Axe commercials as sort of a different tilt of the same axis. They sort of imply that all dudes are douchebags who only care about a certain kind of woman, extreme sports and meaningless relationships. Weird.
Then again, it's always been kind of hard for me to relate to any portrayal of men in popular media.
posted by kaiseki at 9:39 AM on March 23, 2011


Yeah, we've discussed this before so I'll just quote myself. These commercials are more anti-women than anti-men. Men who see the commercial are supposed to think, "Gee I'm better than that guy, so I must be pretty great." The message of these commercials is basically:

Woman - It's your job to clean the house, take care of the kids, feed your husband, and look beautiful. Don't expect any help from the man because he's self-centered and incompetent. The only help you're going to get is if you buy our product.

Man - Don't feel guilty, all guys are self-centered and incompetent by nature. Indulge yourself: buy our product. Let your wife take care of the housework and the kids. If you give her more help than the dudes in these commercials, you're doing more than your share and she owes you big time, and you deserve to treat yourself: buy our product.
posted by straight at 9:46 AM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wonder if it's just easier to portray men as doofuses in popular media because they hold the actual power in society. Sort of like how "Stuff White People Like" isn't offensive, but "Stuff Black People Like" (written by a white person) would be.
posted by desjardins at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


TheophileEscargot said something like that earlier in this thread, but you might be talking about more previously than that.

Yeah it was a while back. Same concept, but the post I remember put it in the context of class struggle not necessarily comedy. The poster said that powerless groups often obtain a sense of power by subverting the powefull through this kind of comic inversion. The fact that nobody gets upset not only proves that such a power imbalance exists, but cements the master-servant relationship.

Oh well, time to go find a computer thread.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:59 AM on March 23, 2011


And to say Man up? What, did you just time travel here from the 60's?

Possibly, but the "man up" phrase has been used as a trope in recent election campaigns in the USofA, so it's not just some weird idiosyncratic resurrection of some weird archaic usage. The old usage has regained some currency.

As for the ads, they are more annoying than almost any other ads, and lots of people have expounded on why that is. The odd part is that the Yoplait campaign (the most annoying of them all, IMO) appeared to have been deep-sixed for a while, but now seems to have been resumed, for whatever reason, after they got tried of the newer, more tasteful campaigns showing women diving into vats of chocolaty liquid and licking spoons while wistfully looking out the window into the garden. What is the idea behind this ad? That it's great to have a cute but milquetoasty husband/boyfriend who cowers like a whipped puppy and bites his lip when you bark "Babe" at him for rummaging in the fridge?
posted by blucevalo at 10:04 AM on March 23, 2011


Also, I'm not sure where I read it anymore, but I seem to remember a particular author using Homer Simpson as the best example he could think of for why Americans don't understand irony or satire anymore. It was basically put forward like "I'm certain that Matt Groening didn't intent for Homer Simpson to become a role model."
posted by kaiseki at 10:04 AM on March 23, 2011


A stupid man is dangerous.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:20 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I absolutely agree that the point of these ads is to maintain entrenched gender stereotypes about division of labour. There is nothing subversive about these ads. They're designed to reinforce the idea that childcare, food prep, and cleaning are the domain of women. What is subversive about that?

Once upon a time, in preparation for teaching intro to women's studies, I spent three evenings watching TV and keeping track of the ads I saw that advertised domestic products--food prep, cleaning, or parenting (e.g. diapers). I wrote down the product, what it was for, and whether the ad featured a woman, a man, or both. I stopped after 60 such ads and did a tally. Of those ads, 57 featured a woman by herself (or with kids), and 3 featured a woman and a man. In these 3 ads, 2 featured a man as a bumbling doofus who did domestic chores badly and needed to be "rescued" by his exasperated wife (who then took over and did the work properly/to her satisfaction). The remaining ad featured a man preparing a meal that was later eaten happily by his wife and kids--no big deal was made of the fact that he was the one cooking. One ad out of 60.

I was expecting something like this, but the scale of the imbalance depressed me. Hardly a scientific survey, but it gave me something to talk about with my class when we did the unit on gender and the media.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:26 AM on March 23, 2011


(to put it another way: these commercials pretend to be "subvervise" about gender while actually reinforcing stereotypical gender roles)
posted by naju at 4:00 AM on March 23

Subversive.
posted by naju at 4:00 AM on March 23

Never correct, naju. Never surrender!

Besides, "subervervise" is totally awesome! Dictionarize it, pronto! "For years, marketers have subvervised the fantasy of weight-loss drinks on a gullible public..."
posted by IAmBroom at 10:57 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I absolutely agree that the point of these ads is to maintain entrenched gender stereotypes about division of labour. There is nothing subversive about these ads. They're designed to reinforce the idea that childcare, food prep, and cleaning are the domain of women. What is subversive about that?

The point of these ads is to sell products. This is done by attempting to appeal to the lowest common denominator of their target market by manipulating their insecurities and prejudices with stupid lazy jokes. What you're talking about is an unfortunate by-product of this approach.
posted by Hoopo at 11:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


These commercials are more anti-women than anti-men.

I'm pretty sure they can be both.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Women up ladies. Women up.

I occasionally like to say, "That took ovaries!"
posted by mmrtnt at 11:58 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hoopo: The point of these ads is to sell products. This is done by attempting to appeal to the lowest common denominator of their target market by manipulating their insecurities and prejudices with stupid lazy jokes. What you're talking about is an unfortunate by-product of this approach.

You're right, that's a better way to put it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2011


How about "Grow up"?
posted by grubi at 1:14 PM on March 23, 2011


Oh, man -- c'mon -- nobody is stupider than the people on TV direct sales ads: "Can openers are confusing (shot of harried home cook struggling) and leave sharp edges (harried home cook accidentally runs infant over serrated age, Peckinpah-ish blood spurts, gimmick-y product shot, Andrew Sullivan, some shouting and excitement)."
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:21 PM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let your wife take care of the housework and the kids.

posted by straight at 9:46 AM


Eponysterical.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 1:44 PM on March 23, 2011


My girlfriend hates the whole "dumb guys" cultural meme, whereas I couldn't give a shit less. She's also way less sensitive to sexist portrayals of women in the media than I am. Maybe I'm dating Camille Paglia. Oh, wait...
posted by Rykey at 1:52 PM on March 23, 2011


Copronymus: "...but I would definitely say that The Simpsons grapples with the stereotype and goes on to transcend it, at least a bit."

The fascinating thing about the Simpsons (in regards to this discussion) is how it appeared at the beginning of the "dumb man" trend and has changed over time. As you said, the early early Homer had some self awareness and was more than just a clown, but in later seasons the character became defined by his stupidity, and the consequence free nature of his life became part of the joke. It mirrors the way that masculinity has been increasingly defined in popular culture by extended, consequence free adolescent behavior.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:46 PM on March 23, 2011


At the risk of sounding like an "I don't even OWN a TV" person, I'd still go on record as saying we'd all be much, much better off by never, ever watching any of this crap at all. And it is entirely possible to do. But for some reason, otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people continually and repeatedly avail themselves of TV commercials that anger them, or insult their intelligence in all sorts of ways. They consume a steady diet of them. Why? It's a mystery to me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory stupid people ininfomercials link.

But the commercial I hated the MOST in the whole "stupid men" theme is one from about five years ago, in which a mom in business suit with a rolly bag is showing stupid man and stupid son how she cooked meals for them each day of the week while she's on her business trip, and color coded each meal with a different color for each day. Then she whooshes out the door, stupid dad and son grin at each other, and go to McDonald's.

So not only is this woman WORKING, but she doesn't trust her husband to cook while she's gone, nor does she trust him to figure out what he and the kid should eat on a given day, AND the husband and son toss the meals in the trash and go to McD's. So all her work to waste and she's in Boise giving presentations or something and eating alone at a Denny's every night. ( ok the last sentence is my extrapolation/fantasy).
posted by sweetkid at 3:38 PM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm typing this with my nose because once again I've got my fingers stuck in these stupid chinese hand cuffs. Bloody hell. I hope my wife (or 7 year old daughter) comes home soon to rescue me. Again.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:25 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why? It's a mystery to me.

Sometimes you're too distracted by your laptop to forward through the ads. It's the only explanation I can give you right now.
posted by Summer at 2:56 PM on March 24, 2011


I think a better explanation is that for every one of the "otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people" that know TV commercials are crap, there are 50 others who go "Say, I HAVE been saying 'there's GOT to be a better way' to boil pasta!" and those people are moms and dads and managers and bosses and get elected and influence others and make laws and pretend that privilege doesn't exist because "I'm a quarter Irish so I know what it's like to suffer discrimination!"

So it's best to be aware of such things, and put a stop to them before they make our lives and the lives of those we care about more difficult because the people most strongly affected by negative advertising are the ones who protest the loudest about how invincible they are to it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:26 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I worked at Citrix a friend convinced marketing to intentionally reverse the typical "dumb man" stereotype in their commercial... and surprisingly it wasn't offensive! It can be done.
posted by brenton at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2011


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