As we once again approach the peak of football season, which inevitably leads to the High Holy Day of advertising, the Super Bowl, let's take a moment to think about some commercials we've all seen over the last year. These commercials do not advertise one specific product, but instead have something else in common: they all emphasize the stereotypical image of a man as a useless, bumbling slob who tries only to avoid his kids, his wife and his responsibilities in life.
But when dad makes too much of a mess, mom is always there to clean it up. In many commercials on television today, the female figure is always making allowances for the mistakes and failures of dad, but never the other way around. Dad is most often represented as not much more intellectually developed than the 3-year-old who stumbles around putting his finger in light sockets and spilling orange juice on the floor.
Let's look at some examples:
We all know that only mamas got the magic to do laundry the correct way. Whenever dad tries to clean his clothes, he ends up mixing whites with colors, and hilarity ensues.
Whenever mom rushes to the mall for a big sale and dad is left in charge, dad lets his child cover himself in cereal, while he reads the paper and plaintively asks the preverbal child, "Where is your mother?" in a state of such desperation that you'd think his life were at stake.
When mom wants to buy a minivan to accommodate her growing family, dad wants to buy the same minivan simply because of its engine's power. This commercial even ends with the father trying to pass his stereotypical nature on to his son by teaching him to say the word "Hemi." Surely that is all a father has to teach his son.
What matters the most, however, is why such advertising is so prevalent. Why is it that in order to sell a product, so many companies feel the need to portray males in such a negative light? Is it because these commercials have had the best response? If so, why is that? Is this just overcompensation for the bias against women that has been such a part of our culture for most of its history? It is a proven fact that women earn less than men and that there is a default gender bias toward men in our culture, but why is it that ad companies feel compelled to retaliate in so trivial a manner?
So what we are left with is the propagation of this obviously false image of the modern male. The psychological implications are enormous. The TV-watching public is exposed to this multiple times every day. Men are led to believe that they are only good at working, bringing home money, and then are taught that they should try and avoid their wives and kids at all costs, for that is what every man on television does. Women are led to believe that the responsibility of maintaining the entire household is placed upon their shoulders, for if they let their husband be in charge for a while, surely it will end with a cereal-flinging toddler who can only say the word "Hemi."
As long as advertisers get results from such commercials, they will continue to use them. So I ask you: Is this really the message we'd like our children to learn?
Woody Brown is a sophomore at City Honors.