Super Bowl thoughts

Congratulations, New Orleans! One heck of a game. Glad to see a championship come to the city after such a long draught. It kinda sucks to see Manning lose, as he certainly deserves more rings than he has, but I’ve never been a Colts fan – even when Tony “The Coolest Cat Alive” Dungy was coaching there. I was really surprised at the Saints’ lackadaisical first quarter performance, but it seemed like they were just stressed and that once they got their head wrapped around the idea that it was just another football game, they picked it back up.

I must also add that Sean Payton has enormous balls of steel, going for it on 4th down and then calling for an onside kick on the halftime kickoff. I love it. That’s the kind of gutsy football you can’t help but root for. Plus, in addition to the daring play calls and great performances from both sides, the game avoided most of the little irritations that are so typical in big games – there were no controversial calls, and only 8 penalties in the whole game. Just good, enjoyable football.

Now, on the other side, we have the ads, which is the reason we all really watch – right? And was it just me or were these ads particularly awful? Especially the Michael C. Hall Dodge Charger ad:

This isn’t even a funny commercial. This is a serious, kind of disturbing and really quite dark commercial. He lists a series of complaints about his life, specifically complaints against his employer and wife. His solution to his miserable life? He buys a Dodge Charger – which is itself a name that has only recently been grabbed again by Dodge in an effort to salvage their own miserable company image. There are multiple disturbing things about this ad, even if we ignore the materialistic and patently ridiculous idea that such a miserable man could find happiness in a new Dodge Charger.

He lists 18 things that he “will do,” apparently because he is being forced to. Two of them are specifically related to work, the other 16 are specifically related to a nagging wife, who, in addition to the usual stereotypes of asking him to leave the seat down and clean out the sink after he shaves, apparently makes him listen to her friends’ opinions of his friends, brings her mother in between them, and makes him sit through vampire TV shows. She’s a pretty poor wife, from what we can tell. But his response is that he will do all these things because she demands it and because he must, but because he plays the part of submissive husband so well, he will “drive the car that I want to drive.” He then declares: “Charger: Man’s last stand.” Against women, presumably.

Now the commercial is just kind of dark and sad until you realize who’s voicing the ad: Michael C Hall, most famous for his role as Dexter – the serial killer. The “serial killer we identify with,” more specifically. This injects an even darker and more dangerous tone into the commercial for those who identify the voice – which, I think it’s fair to assume, is a large part of the target audience. Now there’s an implication of his wife’s behavior putting him on the edge to the point where if he doesn’t get this car he will start to murder people.

Wow, that’s cheerful. So we have the misogyny of women being the enemy and men needing to make a last stand against him mixed in with an overall theme of emasculation and frustration. I dunno about you, but I totally want to go buy a car now. What was odd, though, is that those two themes came up again and again – moreso than in previous years, at least that stood out to me. FloTV, Bud Light, and Bridgestone were also offenders, among others. 

But there were a couple bright spots. My favorites this year? Hyundai and Snickers.  “You’re playing like Betty White out there!”

5 thoughts on “Super Bowl thoughts”

  1. Primetime programming on the whole contains a substantial amount of misandry — men are usually portrayed as oafs, women as smart and in control, men only desirable insofar as they cater to women. That is because marketing research shows that on the whole, directly and indirectly, it is women who make the purchasing decisions in a household, so flattering them will get you further than flattering men. (The exceptions are sports programming — you’ll notice that the ads there are mostly male-oriented — and children’s programming.) Advertisers know that the Super Bowl audience is going to be majority male, middle-aged married males at that, and so it’s hardly a surprise that they would tap into men’s resentment at the way they perceive the women in their lives. Sadly, that perception is often correct, and the irony is that the lack of respect for men is reinforced by the very same media.

    If you aren’t, read Dr. Helen’s blog, where pointing up society’s anti-man attitude is a regular theme.

  2. You probably saw my postings on Twitter last night, but right after the Dodge commercial aired, I posted something like about as a woman, being a little offended by the commercial. My friend Jill replied, that she thought it was even more offensive to men, and I thought about that and I really agree with her. I didn’t realize watching it that it was Michael C. Hall voicing the ad, as I don’t watch Dexter. I was at first tempted to say that I think you might be grasping at straws with connecting it to the show. But then I thought of actors from other shows who provide voice overs for ads. Three came to mind. John Krasinski and Steve Carell, both from the comedy The Office, have commercials out now for Carnival Cruise lines and some kind of chewing gum, respectfully. Both commercials have a feel good, fun vibe to them. And then Patrick Dempsey, a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy, lends his voice to commercials for cars and insurance, both of which are pretty important purchases… Makes me think twice about your thoughts on the significance using Michael C. Hall.

    But back on topic… The beer commercial with the reading club bugged me. Isn’t it insulting to you that it implied the only reason a man would ever want to do something intellectual would be in free beer was involved? I just picture a room full of frat boys coming up with that concept.

    And I’m not even going to touch the utterly sexist GoDaddy and Megan Fox commercials.

    So my question would be is the image portrayed by this and other commercials, as well as sitcoms like Scott mentions, where men are lazy/oafs/dumb/emasculated and women are nagging/demanding reality of life in America, or just a media stereotype? I’m not married, but have observed my parents for almost 25 years, and I just don’t see this. Do American men feel emasculated? If so, as a women, what can we do to avoid/reverse this for our boyfriends/husbands? How do we get to a happy median where men aren’t emasculated, but women aren’t subservient?

    Anyway. My favorites, for what it’s worth, are the Doritos dog commercial, Betty White, and Hyundai. Oh and I loved the Google one too. Sentimental and creative, but does Google really need to advertise? It’s practically a basic necessity in life… food, water, Google. The beer commercial where they were stranded on the island was good too, but I might be partial to it because of my love affair with Lost.

  3. I liked the Google one as well, but like you said, it’s kind of like advertising air. I had forgotten about that one when I wrote the blog.

    As far as what can be done, I think the Bible lays out the complementary roles of men and women quite effectively – the biggest issues in gender relations arise when you have these power struggles or attempts to wrest the roles away from each other. Our culture encourages these struggles and role-switching though, so the natural result is widespread bitterness on both sides.

    Obviously, the balance only works if both people are seeking the betterment of the other, which is why Christ as the center of any relationship is so important.

  4. I agree that following the Bible’s guidelines for the roles of men and women is the way to go. Like I mentioned in my first comment, spending my whole life observing my mom and dad’s relationship has confirmed it. They work together and make mutual decisions whenever possible. Dad is the head of the family, but he’s fair and far from a dictator, and there aren’t power struggles going on.

    Unfortunately, as you said, these roles aren’t defined in our culture. Both genders are often disrespected and misunderstood. The Biblical guidelines in a relationship are the exception, not the rule. With that in mind, I am still curious to know how widespread the feeling of emasculation is among men.

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