26 June 2012

Hate Guy-Bashing Ads?

Some friendly advice:  live with it.  'Cause it isn't going away any time soon.


The dumb guy (or husband or father) character thrived thousands of years before Ralph Kramden ever got behind the wheel of a bus.  He's a species much, much older than the comic foil in this Ad- part of Verizon's forgettable "The Elliots" campaign from McGarry Bowen of New York:

That ad is something of a rarity- one of few (that I know of) ever pulled because it picked on males.  Mysandry! cried millions.... (Thousands?  Dozens? Pairs and pairs?) of men, who prompted the ad's banishment to the nervous client's root cellar.  

In the Copywriting trade- where I live- we need comic foils, as a printer needs ink, and the koala needs eucalyptus leaves.  When conceiving characters to pick on in an ad, we're taught that it's good manners to throw our rocks upward- at those in positions of advantage- not down.

So we- I- lose nary a wink of sleep picking on my own gender. 

Why?  Because men have run the table on civilization since Moby Dick was a guppy.  Even after generations of progress in gender equity, we still get the best jobs,  the highest pay, and the best odds of corporate, judicial, spiritual and political promotion.

And women?  The generation is alive and well that remembers the Don Draper era, when men were men, and women had better have dinner on the table when he gets home.  And woe betide the little woman who fails to store-test the coffee.

Don't Try This At Home
The spankings continue in more recent advertising, if metaphorically.  You may have come a long way, baby, but not far enough to bury the 'blonde' joke: 

Hoodathunk a 'blonde joke' spot in the 21st Century.  But this one bullet-proofs itself in two ways: first by casting another female as the 'smart' one, a character who's less comely in appearance, but whose IQ clearly resides in a different postal code; second, it counts on the audience's natural tendency to throw stones (up, of course) at those who are prettier, richer, more (for want of a better word) "successful." 

Relax, men.  Rightly or otherwise, we still rule the known universe.  The price we pay is playing the part of 'safe' comic foil, in ads like this:

Got a problem with that?  One guy to another- two words:

Suck it up.



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