The theme of the night in last night's much-anticipated Super Bowl ad-bonanza was, in one shape or another: "men who could not be men." Why couldn't they be men? Because they were too busy doing unmanly stuff like washing out sinks and shopping for ladies' underwear and separating the recycling. Why were they stuck doing all this unmanly stuff? Because of us, the women in their lives and the relationships we have-from the looks of these commercials-forced them into by gunpoint. Judging by many of Super Bowl 2010's ads, modern-day monogamy is a sucky, sucky place where you have to have good manners and clean up after yourself. You know, one's basic hell on earth.
Though the lazy, sex-starved, beer-swilling, slogan-slurring (WHASSSUP!), Neanderthal man-child mythos is nothing new in the land of Super Bowl advertising, last night's crop of Super-commercials sprinkled in the idea that somehow-through enduring the many indignities of adult relationship life-men have been broken, their most fundamental and primal identities stolen. The Dodge Charger ad above suggests that tasks like being civil to one's partner's mother and carrying one's girlfriend's lip balm are so soul-sucking that you have to go out and buy a macho car just to counteract them. An idea that, frankly, is a load of crap.
In the first place, the common courtesies outlined here are not particular to men. When asked, I've carried man lip balm and keys and cell phones in my purse. I'm nice to my husband's family and I talk to and listen to his friends. I answer the phone when he calls and I clean out the tub after I shave my legs. This isn't because I have to, it's because I love him, I like being married to him, and I want to be respectful of our shared space and life together. Ads like this perpetuate the myth that consideration is somehow not masculine, that hetero-love is never equal, that women are nagging hags with outlandish demands, that men are selfish, childish prisoners who just want to be free, and that, ultimately, the burdens of a romantic union are greater than the benefits. These ideas are insulting to both genders. However, not as insulting as this:
Oh, come on, ADVERTISERS. You have got to be kidding me with this lame B.S. Why is that man shopping for lingerie and candles if he doesn't want to? Whose fault is it if he wants to watch the game and is, instead, making suggestions for soothing home scents? His girlfriend's?!? Why would any thinking person choose to be with someone who wants to tear out his spine? Even if we imagine that a shrew lady stealthily robbed this man of his will, by never asserting his desire to watch a football game and instead sneaking around with the FloTv product (which, can we discuss for a minute, has a suspiciously menstrual name?) he would only exacerbate his "spinelessness" problem. By smuggling this effete little TV around (instead of just speaking up) this sad man would never actually become a person with testicles and get to take off his skirt and put on pants or WHATEVER THE HELL my least favorite commercial of the night was really supposed to mean/accomplish/say/sell.
For more on the Super Bowl ads, check out Yahoo! TV's rather excellent roundup.
P.S. I will say, I like this one with Betty White. I mean, how could you not?
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