Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Nov 10 2004

Male Bashing In Advertising

I haven't yet seen the TV commercial for Verizon that features a father being discouraged from helping his daughter at the computer while she does her homework, but hearing that the commercial was upsetting some of the dads of America didn't surprise me. I've been noticing for some time that many commercials are written in such a way as to make the male characters who appear in them to be considerably less than average in intelligence. When Radio Shack did its series of commercials with Howie Long and Teri Hatcher I was completely put off by the way they had her interact with him. In one particular episode of sparring she actually reached out and cuffed him on the front of his coat with the back of her hand. They would never have aired such an ad if he had hit her. The little pop she gave him was presented in a playful manner, but it still had an undertone to it that said it was all right for a woman to haul off and smack a guy if she thought he was acting in an inferior manner. I never wrote to the company, but I loathed that whole series of commercials. In a few later ads, I saw Howie Long appear in them alone and I didn't miss one bit the character Teri Hatcher had portrayed.

That isn't the only example of male bashing I've seen in commercials either. Taco Bell has presented little scenarios in which young males are portrayed as some version of cavemen in jeans, who bolt down their fast food while they drool over an office-attired female who sits in a superior manner with a shoulder turned toward them.

Years ago I recall watching Sonny and Cher on TV while they did their patter of jokes in which Sonny always took the part of a devoted, but dumb, male foil while Cher popped off put-downs at him. I was uncomfortable at the laughs they got, and remember thinking at the time that this sort of thing might come back to bite someone in the butt. When they divorced later I wondered if people remembered all the belittling jokes. And sadly, the trend toward male bashing has only gotten worse, and is especially evident in advertising, where it's combined with humor and sarcasm and fed to us all in the living room on TV. It's a free country, and companies certainly have the right to produce any sort of commercials they like, as long as they keep it all legal. I just wish more of their advertising people would choose to take the high road. And I wish they understood, and would advertise to, women who like our men to be thinking, caring individuals who do their best and who challenge us to do likewise. Anyone want to sell me tacos and computers with that kind of an ad campaign? I'll be waiting with wallet in hand.

posted at: 06:47 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
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