Monday, April 14, 2008

Ad critics lament depictions of men as "idiots," create new stereotype of men as joyless buzzkill artists

I'm all for civility in communication, but I also think this column is a bit over the top. While I agree that we need more male role models, I also think it's important to laugh every now and then. According to the authors, however, I'm just being a typical stupid guy:

In a TV culture like ours, the fact that the only fathers one can see on TV are buffoonish (at best) does influence young people's perceptions of fathers.

For young men, it makes it less likely they'll aspire to be fathers, see their own value as fathers or, as [syndicated columnist Leonard] Pitts explains, want to do the "hard but crucial work of being Dad." For young women, it means they'll be more likely to be misled into thinking that their children's fathers aren't important, that divorce or separation from them is no big deal, or that they should, as is the increasing trend, simply dispense with dad altogether and have children on their own.
Sheesh. And you thought it was just a harmless Cheetos commercial.

So what needs to be done to restore the male to a more dignified place in society? The authors have a few suggestions, including this one:

As we consider whether it's wise to make men the butt of every joke, we should also consider the joke itself. Many see the 1960s as the golden age of advertising. Those who crafted the ads of that era created work of superb quality, seldom if ever resorting to the contempt, shame and aggressive ridicule of today's ads.
Well, I don't know about that.

If you ask me, men get their fair share of the sarcasm stick, right along with women, youngsters, oldsters, and everyone else. But even if not, and the trade-off is fewer dad-as-doofus spots in exchange for a kinder, gentler, "Butterfly Kisses"-ier tone, count me out. I'll be over here in the corner, wearing the dunce cap and the "I'm with stupid" T-shirt.

Photo credit: I like on Flickr

1 comment:

Erik Deckers said...

I wouldn't say they're over the top. There are a lot of Men's activists -- Robert Bly, Sam Keen, et. al. -- have been decrying the portrayal of men as buffoons since the late 80s and early 90s.

Think about the Bill Cosby and Tim Allen types who always looked like idiots. I've been sick of this since way back then myself, and have even refused to buy products if the men were especially made to look stupid because they were men.

I got sick of Bill Cosby and Tim Allen a few months after their shows aired, because male-induced buffoonery quits being funny after about six weeks.

I can't remember which cleaner it is off the top of my head, but they had a TV ad that showed "a man's idea of bathroom cleaning" was to take a few squares of toilet paper, wave them in the direction of the sink and toilet, and then throw the TP away. I actually wrote to the company and complained about their ad.

"You wouldn't portray women as airheaded twits who have to go to the bathroom in groups or can't drive, so why would you portray men as people who are incapable of cleaning?" I asked them.

I'm all for laughing at myself, as a person or as a gender. But not over and over. Look, we can't do it to women or other races. We're not "due" for anything, despite what the status quo defenders may say.

Fair treatment means fair treatment for all, not turning the tables on some.