Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Top 10 Male-Bashing Ads

Ask Men ranks the Top 10 Worst Male-Bashing Ads (thanks to the reader who emailed this):

You’ve seen him plenty of times on sitcoms; he’s the dumb, bumbling, idiot dad, husband and boyfriend who appears useless at everything but bringing home a paycheck. The message: Guys are dumb and women have to lead them around. This, of course, cues the laugh track. Yet a survey from an organization called Children Now found that two-thirds of kid respondents described men on TV as angry, while respondents from another group’s survey said men were portrayed as corrupt on TV by a 17 to 1 margin. Clearly, this is no laughing matter.

Check out the commercials and see what you think, frankly I think the one from Dairy Queen (#1) makes women look just as bad as men. It portrays a self-involved princess--a young girl-- getting a gift of an ice cream from a boy while sounding smug and self-entitled about using a male for free treats. Her mother actually looks shocked and surprised that her daughter is pimping for free ice cream. I would like to hear the discussion between the two after this interlude but the commercial ends.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll get labeled as a total Neanderthal for this, but any man whose wife is as pretty as the one in that Pizza Hut commercial needs to be cooking every night!

6:09 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Donna said...

And my mother wonders why I don't watch television anymore... I don't need to see this and the men in my life agree. If the tables were turned and the female was portrayed as a dog, imagine the uproar.

6:16 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Derek said...

Oh, bother. I'm not nearly as disturbed by the commercials as I am by Mr. Voyer's effort to join the "victim class."

The worst of these aren't abusive to men; they're just insipid ideas. Some of them are, in fact, funny. Although, the DQ ad is disturbing.

6:22 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

The Sonic commercials show men as a bunch of idiots, especially in the ones with the cutesy banter between the man and woman.

Some of the recent Lowes hardware commercials make the husband look like a dolt because he didn't just immediately take his wife's word for it. Seeing as how a very high percentage of Lowes' customers are men, I fail to see why they feel the need to insult them.

6:22 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger BobH said...


I agree with you that the Dairy Queen ad makes the little girl look much worse than the boy. His only mistake seems to be doing what the she wants. That's a very easy mistake for him to fix.

Lowes has a lot of female customers. Usually they are there with the men in their lives explaining what they want done. Although there are often men there without women, it is MUCH rarer to see women there without men. I prefer Home Depot anyway.

8:45 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Yamantaka said...

Feministing objected to the DQ ad as well-- for suggesting that womanhood is about getting men to buy women stuff.

But if the girl had instead punched the boy and STOLEN his sundae, I have a feeling that would've been more likeable.

9:27 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

That is pretty pathetic. I see what I've been missing while having the tv turned off.

Helen, here's the end of the DQ commercial. Mom's shock turns to pride when she realizes she has taught her daughter so well. The scene fades as mom and daughter high-five each other.

9:36 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger El Duderino said...

I'm surprised the V8 ads aren't here, where the woman bops the man on the forehead for failing to order the ghastly drink. If the roles were reversed and husband bops wife, gigantic panties would knot instantly everywhere. Smacking should be avoided entirely or barring that, at least applied on an equal opportunity basis.

11:08 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


I would say you are right, that is sad. I would like to think mom told daughter that there is no such thing as a free lunch and explained that manipulating people with your looks won't get you far--if you care about autonomy and self-sufficiency. An explanation of why that is important should follow. Allow a discussion of why it is important to treat others as human beings, not as objects to be used for gifts.

El Duderino,

I also hate those V-8 commercials. Almost everyone who is bopped in the head is a man and the one woman I saw get bopped gently was not by a man--I think it was her own reflection in a mirror doing it? Don't remember for sure but definitely wasn't male.


That's funny. I bet you are right though about Feministing. Wasn't that the place they were laughing about the man knife block with a knife skewered through him? What a hypocritical bunch over there.

5:50 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm scratching my head. The focus on this article is that these are male-bashing commercials and I agree, with the exception of the Neosporin ad.

A couple of the ads make wives look atrocious. Why would you be proud or even tolerant of a spouse who didn't know how to cook a basic meal or a family who are complete slobs? Rather than buying pizza or a Roomba, perhaps it is time to show hubby how to work with a precooked microwaveable meal that isn't laden in saturated fat and calories, and it is really time to have a long long chat with the husband and kids about being total slobs.

As far as the DQ commercial I get the feeling that mom was about to take the ice cream away and have a little talk with the daughter about using people. Of course, if daughter keeps on extracting ice cream from boys she'll pork out quickly and that gravy train will end real fast. Daughter will quickly start looking like actually DQ customers.

How askmen missed Sonic I'll never know.

7:42 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Trust said...

There was an incident years ago that I never forgot. I predicted the future based on it (sadly, this was easy).

My sister was once engaged to a great guy. One day she was upset over something, or so we thought. Our other sister and I were sitting at the kitchen table. She walks into the kitchen, almost in tears, and he's following her saying "I'm so sorry, what can I do to make it right?" Well, as he's saying this, her back is to him so he can't see her face. She looks up at our other sister, her teary face turns to one smiling from ear to ear, and she winks at my other sister. Then her face went sad and teary eyed again as she turned around to talk to him.

I knew at that moment the relationship was doomed. Thankfully, they didn't make it to the wedding. Not surprisingly, my sister put the blame 100% on the boyfriend for cliches like "he's not loving enough" and "he can't handle a strong woman", even though she was the one who was manipulating him with her emotions and he was doing everything he could to try to address whatever he thought she was upset about.

The relevance is that I think television, media, marketting, you name it, has influenced women to see men sort of as pets, so they do this kind of thing, as my sister did, almost unconsciously.

I was on a cruise a couple years ago, and the store was selling the shorts saying "boys stink, throw rocks at them" and "boys are dumb, throw rocks at them." I wrote the cruise line and told them they wouldn't have the guts to sell shirts saying "women nag, smack them." To their credit, a manager called me and apologized personally. I thanked him, but told him if it were reversed, he'd have probably received a lawsuit instead of a letter.

Other nice shirts I have actually seen women wearing include: boyfriends make nice pets, you better make as much as I want to spend, I have the p**sy so I make the rules (this one by a woman running the cash register at a snow cone shop at park serving kids!!!), etc.

It's insane. It's amazing to me that so many people who are hypersensitive about sexism are so sexist at the same time.


7:57 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger dienw said...


I find it very frustrating to work with my fellow males who are married or living with women and who are so damned obviously p**sy whipped that I can read it in their faces and demeanor.

8:59 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

cham --

"Rather than buying pizza or a Roomba, perhaps it is time to show hubby how to work with a precooked microwaveable meal that isn't laden in saturated fat and calories, and it is really time to have a long long chat with the husband and kids about being total slobs."

Got a feeling you missed something in the overal discussion, cham. Men don't need instructions from women. We actually know how to do those things and the commercials are completely fake, except perhaps for the same miniscule percentage of men as there are women who are utterly incompetent.

They don't portray women who cannot "care" for their men, they protray bogus and demeaned men.

It would be just as bad for the women stop and "instruct" their husbands. It should go over no better than men stopping and showing the little lady how to pump gas.

It's also not a question of funny, they are. It's a question of women not allowing themselves to be the butt end of a jape while heaping ridicule on men.

9:12 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

No, Olig, you are wrong. Those 2 ads don't just demean men, they send a strong negative message about women. And that is that a husband that can't cook or pick up after himself is something that is to adored and cherished, and women should seek out men with those qualities, not men who can handle the kitchen and the vacuum cleaner. You can take it one step further and assume that women who have husbands that cook and clean might not be the best wives. Hence, the ads are demeaning to women as well.

If you go back and read my first sentence you will notice that I wrote that I agree that these are male bashing ads. I'm just looking at another aspect of 3 of the ads, that ads that are demeaning to men can also be demeaning to women as well.

9:39 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Those 2 ads don't just demean men, they send a strong negative message about women.

Hm, I'm not sure about that. They do send a negative message about women to me, but I think some women see the obvious (to them) fact of female superiority.

I have become more exposed lately to husband-bashing by women as my life circumstances have changed. I have come to realize that I had been living in a bit of a bubble and now that I am out of it, I see more of what has been discussed here for months. I think some of the women I have met would not find those demeaning to women at all but would be nodding in agreement about the mostly useless husband. (Or the girl at DQ - "awww, isn't she cuuute?!")

I hope to be wrong!

9:54 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

Actually, cham and marbel are both correct, as I see it: it does send a shockingly awful message about women; for the most part, that message is either not heard or responded to with, "You go, grrl!"

My favorite part of the article, actually, was the comments saying, "What, you have no sense of humor?" or "Men have no business claiming to ever be a victim" or otherwise complaining that someone should point out wrongdoing against a mere male human. Amusing in small doses, that sort of thing does get on the nerves eventually. Blessedly, there's none of that in this thread.

Except for derek, of course.

10:21 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

I went back through the commercials and noted that I have seen only 3 out of the 10 ads air in my area: Dominos, AT&T and Roomba. The other 7 I've never seen on TV. I wonder if there are some geographical areas where male bashing might be more accepted than my own. Any thoughts?

10:57 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Wayne said...

Heh. I brought up the DQ ad once before, though I didn't remember the company, I just remembered the smug little girl.

When I watched the Sony ad, though, I got a different message. I thought that it showed the dad as an underappreciated person until later in the skit, where he appeared as a real person in the pictures. YMMV

On the V8 commercials, I have hated all these new ones, where someone ELSE hits the person in the forehead (as far as the women go, one of them did get hit by her baby in the stroller). The notion that some OTHER person would have the gall to do something like that irritates me no end.

And in the Sonic commercials, they DID have one or two with the woman an the man where he got the upper hand in the conversation, but then they stopped and went to two men.

Now, for commercials that are positive towards men, there's an AT&T commercial where the business man takes his daughter's stuffed monkey along and takes pictures of it with his phone and sends them home to keep in touch with her. Perhaps it would be a good idea to contact the makers of such good messages and send them some positive reinforcement.

11:08 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Mark said...

These are just examples, the issue is so pervasive people just don't even see it any more. 95% of all commercials are like that. Every business-oriented commercial shows the woman in the lead followed by a gaggle of clueless men in suits. Around a boardroom, there is typically a man at the head of the table, but the woman has the good idea. Around the home the man is always clueless, unable to purchase the right thing or do anything remotely resembling a normal human function or select the right product as the woman gives him that "you are such an idiot" look.

11:23 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

I actually simply prefer commercials that are positive, rather than negative. (That's positive, not whorish or similar, which is generally portrayed positively, but you know what I mean.) The AT&T commercial wayne mentioned chokes me up every single time, with its gentle wit and touching storyline.

Perhaps it's just the visceral response to the underlying message of things like that:
"We'll help you connect better."
"We enable love."
"Let us let you be all you can be."
These things bring a response of, "Yeah, I want to be part of that!" Which I would imagine is what the marketers want... right?

11:40 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

I thought the DQ advert was a great opportunity to instruct my son on the kind of woman to avoid like the plague. Tramps and gold-diggers: straight to the curb where they belong.

OTOH, I love the Sonic commercials. I don't think they target men at all. They make everyone look like idiots.

11:55 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

That AT&T commercial with the kid is a little sappy for my taste. The best commercial airing now is Enzyte. Smiling Bob cracks me up every time.

11:58 AM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Derek said...

I'm glad to be an exception, peregrine john. After all the times I've criticized other groups for intentionally seeking to find offense, to be a victim, or refusing to laugh at themselves, I'm not going to be hypocritical just because the topic of discussion now is men.

Sense of humor has little to do with my opinion of these commercials, as most of the commercials presented aren't even funny. They offend because of their stupidity or negativity.

I agree with Wayne's opinions regarding some of the commercials. I'd also like to point out that at the end of the Roomba commercial, the woman notes how the device allows her to spend more time with her best friend as she sits on the bed with the donkey.

Are we to be so offended by a perceived suggestion that a man is a jack@$$ that we miss the point that said animal is the woman's best friend? Wouldn't that speak more poorly of the woman who chooses to remain best friends with (let alone married to) said objectionable individual?

Or can we start a new thread where we complain about the fact that her children were referred to as pigs? Shouldn't that also garner our ire?

Good commercials, including ones listed on the article, are funny not because they make fun of a group of people but because they present something familiar...

... says the guy who once launched himself off a slip-n-slide and into a bush.

12:30 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

I think that the boy is presented as stupid and the girl as manipulative. Both come across poorly, but after being manipulated into buying his third ice cream sundae, I bet the boy wises up.

The girl will need years of therapy to avoid a personality disorder, or try to get rid of one.


1:51 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger edwardherda said...

Reason men are portrayed as bumbling idots? Mulah! The networks going for the female heart strings these days, leaving men alone to play with their toys — Grey's, Ugly Betty, Lipstick jungle, etc. And thus, Madison Avenue must follow. Women are the new men 18-34.

2:04 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


"The girl will need years of therapy to avoid a personality disorder, or try to get rid of one."

Perhaps, but just as likely, she will inflict her personality disorder on those around her, who will be tortured for years by her demands and manipulation without understanding what is wrong. Naturally, the girl will think there is nothing wrong with her and externalize all of her problems and blame onto others and society. Then society and the media will tell her she has been victimized because she is female and she will feel more entitled to free ice crean than ever.

2:17 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

Helen, I sit corrected.


4:35 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

Out of those the only one I have seen on TV is the Domino's ad. When I saw it I thought it was a poor commercial. What guy only wants to have sex for two minutes? As far as the Whiskas commercial goes, I wonder how they could do it without being offensive. I think the slogan "only cats can be cats" is clever. I think the worst ones are where the man is an ass.

I agree with Cham's point that if real men were as dumb as they are portrayed on TV, then the women who married those oafs would be rather pathetic themselves.

5:07 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger DEK46656 said...

Odds are that the primary reason commercials like this are made is that (white) men are a safe target for the “butt of a joke” in the media. Any other demographic would have a group to contact to help address the offense. NOW, NAACP, or similar, would mobilize and draw a lot of national attention to the offense. However… the white male is not represented in such a way because as a group it is / was the majority in the country (US) and was often the offender. I even read once that “as a group” they were the only ones who could take a joke.

Having said this, let me point out that it’s not exclusive to white men, but if you start to keep “count”, you’ll see that it is the vast majority of the target, and almost exclusively to the really offensive commercials.

The thing that I find odd is that the “men are pigs” Trojan ad didn’t make the list.

7:40 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Buckeye Tom said...

I agree with Derek. Commercials today try to be funny. Most miss the mark. However, I haven't seen anyone here harping about beer commercials that poke fun of men. The reason is, because they are actually funny. If it's funny nobody complains.

Men are not the "victim" of today's culture as some suggest. The fact of the matter is, men portrayed as dim-witted husbands, fathers, and boyfriends is not a recent fad.

Comedy legends like Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Jackie Gleason, Lou Costello, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Art Carney, Laurel & Hardy, etc. had been playing comic foils since the beginning of Hollywood.

From bumbling husbands to clueless fathers. They made men the butt of jokes, all of this during the "Golden Age of Family" in the 1940's & 50's. Did these men destroy the respectability of all men? I don't think so.

I happen to believe men are the butt of the jokes in sitcoms, movies, and commercials, because men are more willing to look foolish than women, in order to get a laugh.

What man has not at some point, intentionally done something foolish, just to get a laugh out of their buddies?

Simply put, men dominate the comedy field. So when a sitcom wants a comic foil, naturally they cast a man. People watch comedies to laugh, not to get sage advice from the straight man (or in this case the straight woman who plays the wife and mother).

9:17 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger Ed said...

OK, looks like I'm going to be the first one to say it. The chick in the Roomba ad has a nice ass.

9:25 PM, June 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Reason men are portrayed as bumbling idots? Mulah! The networks going for the female heart strings these days"

Not just commercials and programming: the news and weather are aimed squarely at women: "Here is a threat to you and your children! Stay tuned!"

11:43 PM, June 12, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

Buckeye tom, I think you are missing the point. It is making men the exclusive butt of the joke that is the problem. The problem is not hurt feelings of adults, but the pernicious effect that these types of attitudes tend to have on our culture. Repetitous slanderous media portrayals can be damaging.


12:16 AM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Banshee said...

It's the difference between "human beings are stupid, bumbling, and funny; here's one who's a man" and "men are stupid, bumbling, and funny; all hail the Mistresses of the Race!"

And yes, I get very tired of seeing one half of all people dissed. The fact that they are the opposite sex from me doesn't make it acceptable.

8:18 AM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have a different take on the Dairy Queen ad. Let me see if you agree with it, Dr. Helen:

A little girl wants some ice cream. She believes that if she uses her sexuality, she can convince the little boy to get her some ice cream.

Isn't the little girl just a whore-in-training? This commercial says to little girls: "If you want something, use your sex, and you will get it."

Little girl as whore.

Where I come from, that's not a commercial, it's child porn.

8:55 AM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Colleen said...

oooh..the add that always made me switch the channel was the one H&R Block blasted the airwaves with (at least in Chicago) during tax season, where the guy is using a turbo-tax like program to do taxes and the woman is hovering over him, waiting for him to admit that he's stuck and now there's absolutely no one to help him out. It's wrong on so many levels.....
- H&R block was audited by the IRS for messing up on their own tax filing
- how anyone with a full time job could even relate to a person that DIDN'T want to file online
- H&R block was audited by the IRS
- if she wants to complain why doesn't SHE do the taxes
- H&R employees are seasonal hires who get trained 3 weeks prior to Jan 1st...probably not the best tax resource to go to..
- and oh, did I mention H&R Block audited by the IRS for incorrect filings??

10:50 AM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Derek said...

It seems to me that the actors Buckeye Tom mentioned fit with "the difference" that Maureen wrote about. They weren't playing roles that said "all men are doofs." They were simply playing doofs.

Doofs can be funny. Staid and solid people are usually not. John Houseman worked well telling us that Smith Barney made money the old fashioned way. But I just can't see him selling us polysporin because "we burned it."

It occurred to me that one reason we see men behaving badly in commercials is because, culturally, it's tolerable for men to be boors. Sara Silverman aside, our society doesn't typically accept boorish behavior from women. Well, at least not on broadcast television.

10:58 AM, June 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have any of you seen the Klondike bar commercials that have been running recently? They are complimentary to men in a "left-handed compliment" sort of way. It's not outright praise but it's a noticeable departure from the myriad of unnuanced, straight male-bashing ads. Here's one example I've seen on TV:

Klondike bar commercial

11:51 AM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

"Little girl as whore."

I think little girl as manipulative tease is more accurate. Whores provide a service, a tease promises, but does not deliver.


12:46 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Dave Cornutt said...

Yeah, that Dairy Queen ad is so wrong, on so many levels. I wouldn't know where to start, except to say I'm glad I'm not the DQ exec who green-lighted that.

I think the reason that a lot of sitcoms and movies are going towards that "Lifetime model" is because it's such an easy, pat formula to execute. We all know that the quality of TV and movies in general these days is way, way down -- movies haven't been this bad since probably the early days of the Depression, and today's TV is the worst ever in the history of the medium. I've read some comments and done some asking of my own recently: what happened to all of the talent in Hollywood? Answer: They aren't there anymore. The cream of the American creative class is now mostly working on video games. This, then is one (rather unexpected) answer for why most guys spend so much time with the Xbox: it's just plain better entertainment.

Ed, I presume you'll be here all week.

2:59 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

There's a reason I lived for two years (2005-2007) without a television, and there's a reason I've not voluntarily watched TV for a lot longer.

Yeah, men will be fools for a good joke, but it may be that they do it too often. It maybe that young women now -- and non-whites, since it's always white men who are playing the parts of fools -- may be misconstruing what's on TV for what's real.

3:00 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Derek said...

@Dave Cornutt: The best entertainment currently on our TV is Final Fantasy XII. Final Fantasy IX was pretty good, too. Granted, they're Playstation games, not xbox. But we have one of them, too.

For the record, my wife owned the Playstation when we married. We're equal opportunity gamers.

5:42 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

There is some good stuff on television. But it comes in the form of reality shows. If you take a bunch of reasonably intelligent creative people, give them a challenge to do what they love, allow them compete against each other, and then have the contest be reasonably fair, the result is usually pretty entertaining and you might learn something in the process.

6:10 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Buckeye Tom said...


I understand the point that was trying to be made. I agree media portrayals can shift attitudes. You can make a great argument about the way the military is portrayed today versus 60 years ago. However, I don’t see the shift when it comes to men playing the fool.

Like I said, look at just about any Bob Hope picture, and the plot is a graceful, beautiful woman bats her eyes and Bob starts acting the fool. From My Favorite Blonde/Brunette to any of the Road pictures, Hope bumbles and stumbles trying to win the girl, doing whatever pleases her, with her leading the way, of course.

Same with Cary Grant. In Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home, Grant plays the husband and father who can’t even build the dream home he designed, without his more practical wife’s guidance. In Father Goose, Grant is a boorish male, who has to be set straight by a more level headed schoolmarm and a gaggle of children. In Houseboat, Grant plays the formerly absentee father, who doesn’t even know his own children, and needs the help of the beautiful and more understanding live-in nanny.

Those are just a few of their roles. I could easily list more. I could do the same with everyone of the men I previously listed, and many more actors from that era. Everyone of them played the foil to a beautiful, seemingly wiser woman. So, could someone explain to me how men like Hope, Grant, Jerry Lewis, etc. were playing fools “who happened to be men”, when today’s comedic actors like Tim Allen, Ray Romano, and Kevin James have been elevated to represent “every man” while playing similar roles?

The men I listed earlier, were the biggest stars of their era and had a greater box office draw than today’s actors. Especially when you consider all of the entertainment options we enjoy today. So how can a stereotype that has existed and was prevalent since the advent of Hollywood, some 90+ years ago, now all of a sudden, be responsible for society’s lack of respect for men? Along the same line, were the few successful women comediennes like Lucille Ball, Gracie Allen, Carol Burnett, etc. guilty of making women look bad by playing dim-witted wives, air headed mothers, and clowns?

I understand some men are tired of the fact that men are always the butt of the joke. But certain men have always been the butt of the joke, because they could laugh at themselves. They were/are respresenting themselves, not all men. The difference now, is we live in politically correct times, where women and minorities are off limits, but men still make a living playing clowns. So now some men, tried of the double standard, want protected status under the politically correct umbrella. I just don’t happen to agree with political correctness, and don’t think men should embrace it. What kind of world will be have, when nobody can make fun of themselves because it offends someone else?

Also, I don’t believe fathers and husbands are less valued today. Those surveys are much like surveys about the economy. Most people say their financial situation is good, but their mood about the economy is that it’s in the tank. Likewise, most husbands and fathers say they are respected by their wives and kids, it’s the other guy they’re worried about.

7:31 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

I think one important aspect of those movies was that they work on the dynamic of a couple being a team, that each half of the couple compensates for the other's weak spots, and they did so affectionately. Very different from the utter contempt from men in today's media.

7:59 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger zed said...

Cham said...

A couple of the ads make wives look atrocious.

I'm glad someone else saw this.

It's a well demonstrated phenomenon that not everyone will take the same message from a "story", and commercials really are 30-second stories.

I haven't had a TV since the mid-70s, and this is a perfect example of why. The only commercial discussed here that I have seen is for the vacuum cleaner. I had seriously been considering buying one, but as a result of that commercial decided not to - or at least to not buy that brand.

While I find the advertising as obnoxious as anyone, I don't subscribe the approach of complaining and writing protest letters. I am in no way captive to buying their product, and if they choose to alienate me from the company and for me to choose a competitor's product (or no product at all because the majority of what is being sold are products that I can live better without) that's their choice. I think putting them out of business due to drop in sales is a far more eloquent way of expressing dissatisfaction with their stupid stance than "asking" them to change.

When I saw the vacuum commercial, I saw no man in it at all - just a woman with a very nasty view toward her husband and children. And I've seen enough of that in real life to know it is not entirely fictional. Relations between men and women are the lowest point in my lifetime.

No man in his right mind would want to be married to a woman like that, or to that Bennets woman who browbeat her abused-spouse husband into her version of "equality".

I'm amazed that men are feeling victimized by this because they always have the freedom to withdraw their support from a company which thinks it is funny to bash men. There are a lot of products and companies that I won't buy - Budweiser, Pepsi, Verizon. They spend a lot of money to attract customers, and they are wasting it if they alienate more potential customers than they draw in.

But I'm more amazed that women aren't screaming their heads off at they way they are portrayed.

8:57 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger DEK46656 said...

@buckeye tom
In considering a response to your posting it hit me where the differences are between “then” and “now”. There would be 2 aspects to the (then) buffoon; they would be an exception not the norm, and they also had redeeming qualities.

To the first point, typically there were a bunch of people (mostly men) playing the role of “straight man” (the one’s the jokes were played off of) and the “funny one” that was acting like a buffoon. The classic example would be Abbott and Costello. Costello would not have been (as) funny if there were no Abbott to play against. Today, there are no “straight guys” in the situations, they are all buffoon’s (meaning… everyone wants to be Costello). The closest to the straight guy in the comedies are women, but they are not portrayed in the same manner as the straight guy in the older comedies. More accurately the situations are not portrayed in the same manner as before, which brings me to the second aspect.

Though I can’t comment on the films you presented, the men (buffoons) in the past had many redeeming qualities, but were probably in a “fish out of water” scenario. Someone who can design a dream house IS a lot different than someone who can construct / build it.

I would suspect that with the exception of the slap-stick & physical humor, the fish out of water set up was the primary basis for the movies of the past (and what you presented?) When you mentioned Cary Grant the only movie that came to mind was Operation Petticoat (1959). The men in that film all have flaws and redeeming qualities. The “out of water” situation was landing a bunch of Nurses (women) on to a broken down sub (during WW2) trying to avoid being blown out of the water. Though the sexual stereo types presented would not be very PC today, the women also had both redeeming qualities and flaws. That movie also goes to the comment by Dave Cornutt about creativity in Hollywood: who today could have come up with (first) the situation and then the line “Saw Truck, Sank Same”?

9:02 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Buckeye Tom said...


The point is the male’s weakness was often their intelligence or boorish behavior, just like it is today. Even then, women were used in the movies and television to “compensate” for the man’s weakness. I’ll agree, some of those movies accomplished this in a more affectionate manner, for explain Mr. Blanders, however, that was not true in many other movies and television shows.

Bob Hope’s characters were often manipulated and lead around by beautiful women, resulting in him playing the fool. After being used for whatever purpose the vixen had, more often than not, by the end of the movie, Bing Crosby or whoever the straight man was, ended up with the girl.

Likewise, Jerry Lewis rarely got the girl. Despite repeatedly tripping over himself to impress the ladies, Dean Martin always won their affections.

Lou Costello‘s characters, again, were easily manipulated by women. He rarely, if ever got the girl.

Men and women as adversaries in comedies is not new. Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn movies like Adam’s Rib and Woman of the Year, focused on the battle of the sexes. Much like some sitcoms today do, in the end, the woman got her way.

Cary Grant and Leslie Caron fought like cats and dogs in Father Goose, including a scene where they slap each others faces. Yes, by the end of the picture, they were “madly in love”, but that was after Grant conformed to Caron’s standards (i.e. wearing socks and giving up drinking). The civility or lack thereof, in their arguing, was on par with what is seen today in shows like Everybody Loves Ramond, except the slapping of course.

Jackie Gleason’s and Audrey Meadows’s characters on the Honeymooners, were particularly vicious to one another, bordering on Married With Children territory. Bang! Zoom! Straight to the moon!

In a rare instance where the woman played the fool, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, would often scream at one another on I Love Lucy.

So there has always been a battle of the sexes theme in comedies.

9:36 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Buckeye Tom said...


I agree, the buffoons of Hollywood past did often have straight men as opposed today. However, those straight men (for example Bing Crosby, Bud Abbott, or Dean Martin) were hardly positive male role models. They were often conniving, back stabbing men, who took advantage of the buffoons more often than the leading ladies did. Whether it be taking their money, their girl, or putting their lives at risk.

You’re right, today the straight men are played by women in the form of wives and girlfriends. But the roles are hardly different because the women manipulate the buffoons much like the straight men of the past did.

I’m not sure what redeeming qualities the buffoons of long ago had that today’s lack. Likeability is the quality that comes to mind. But I think Ray Romano, Tim Allen, Kevin James, etc. are likeable enough.

In regards to Mr. Blandings, Grant plays an architect who decides to buy a house for his family. Naturally being a man, he gets suckered into buying a dump. The family is forced to move into the house even though it’s falling down around them. He then decides, to renovate the home to his own design. Of course he is a poor manager of time, money, etc. During the process, Grant begins to crack up, but his wife is there to make sure the house gets completed and Grant regains his sanity.

Operation Petticoat is a good movie. But again Grant plays a gruff man, who learns to lighten up because of his new found love of a woman. Tony Curtis is a womanizer, who is reformed by the love of a woman. The theme is, a woman can always change a man for the better, not the other way around.

10:10 PM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

I have to dispute the "Father Goose" summary. Walter Eckland is a bachelor, but he's also brave and skillful, and teaches Leslie Caron and the girls a few things.

He's also Cary Grant.

12:47 AM, June 15, 2008  
Blogger Buckeye Tom said...


I wasn’t trying to criticize Cary Grant. I wouldn’t have seen so many of his movies, if I didn’t think he wasn’t one the most charismatic actors of all time. The point I’m trying to make, is the theme that men are sometimes dim-witted, uncivilized creatures until a woman sets them straight, is not a recent phenomenon. Today, any such depiction is construed as bashing men, however back then they were simply accepted for their entertainment value.

Like Dek & Dave Cornutt said, there is no originality in Hollywood. Everything you see today is a rehashed version of something presented in the past. You name a romantic comedy from the last 75 years, and I’ll show you the same story. Boy meets girl. Girl changes boy. Boy gets girl. Women have always been depicted as changing men for the better, with little to no change necessary for the woman. It didn’t use to be considered male bashing, it was again, entertainment.

You’re right. Grant does show bravery in Father Goose, by rescuing Leslie Caron and the girls. But his bravery only blooms after encountering the females. The lesson is, a man’s redeeming qualities must be extracted by a woman.

Prior to being exposed to the better half, Grant is a selfish, unshaven slob. He is an enemy plane spotter on an island in the Pacific during War World II. Is he there out of patriotism? No, he’s there because he didn’t like wearing a neck tie back in the civilized world. Does he take pride in his current job, and serve a higher purposes? Nope. His sole motivation is whiskey. His unwillingness to fulfill his duties is so bad, the Australian officers are forced to hide the whiskey, and use it as a bribe, in order to get him to pass along intelligence. He has no regard for the war effort, he thinks only of self gratification.

Again, You’re right, Grant does teach the girls a few things. He teaches them manly things like how to fish, and how to restore a boat. He also teaches the little girls how to circumvent female authority, by having them sneak bottles of whiskey to him. Apparently that’s how men get something that women oppose. They have to sneak it.

Once again you are correct, Grant was a bachelor for most of the movie. However, after Caron has helped him reform his behavior, he becomes marriage material. However in the end, Caron hasn’t changed at all. She is still controlling.

I can only imagine the out cry if movies like Seven Brides For Seven Brothers were made today. Seven men who were unwashed, unshaven, heathens until a woman straightened them out. Even after the woman’s tutelage, the men’s natural stupidity can’t be completely suppressed. They don’t understand it’s not acceptable to kidnap women, until their sister-in-law shows them the errors of their way.

Or heaven forbid, the Holy Grail of male bashing movies, The Wizard of Oz, ever gets remade. Dorothy Gale spends a day or two in Oz, and the scarecrow gets a brain, the tin woodsman gets a heart, and the cowardly lion gets courage. Even when the men try to rescue Dorothy from the Wicked Witch, they only manage to get captured themselves. Of course Dorothy rescues them all. They only thing Dorothy learns from her adventure, “there’s no place like home”, is taught to her by another woman, Glinda the good witch. The moral of the story is women make men smarter, more courageous, and more compassionate. The only thing men offer is companionship. Or you could just look at it as 101 minutes of entertainment.

2:54 PM, June 15, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

buckeye tom,

I realize what you are saying, but as I see it, the utter contempt and open scorn for men present in today's media was not evident in those old movies, as far as I remember. Unfortunately I haven't seen any of those old films in quite a long time, and was in elementary school the last time I did.I was writing from my memories of them, the impressions they left me with, I should perhaps see them all again. I don't remember the scathing contempt that you see today. Even action films now feature women who fight better than any man. Then of course back then there were shows like 'Father Knows Best' and 'Leave it to Beaver' with strong father figures.Is there anything like that on TV today?


Yes, you'd think that women would be upset at how they are portrayed in commercials. However, my experience when watching TV with other women is that the focus is on the man getting what he 'deserves'...comments like "she showed him" "that'll teach him" and "what a jerk" are the norm. Seems that they don't see the female-as-shrew angle, must be all that grrrl power. Just leaves me rolling my eyes...

7:21 PM, June 15, 2008  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

I don't think it's fair to say Leslie Caron's character is unchanged by Walter Eckert, nor the girls. She's more than a bit prissy beforehand, and learns to accept certain manly virtues and faults the embody themselves in Walter. She is not portrayed as faultless or correct in all things. Quite the contrary--there are enormous gaps in her understanding of and dealing with the world, and she learns that Walter, for all his faults, fills those gaps.

Teaching the girls to to evade "female authority" might also be called teaching them independence. Lt. Stebbings, Frank's right hand man, is "feminine" in his rule-following, and Frank represents an alternative form of manliness. In some ways the Frank/Stebbings relationship echoes that of Walter/Catherine.

Yes, Walter is changed, but men are changed by feminine influence and the need to care for children.

The changes are much more mutual than you are giving credit for. They both recognize their own faults and the strengths of the other.

8:47 PM, June 15, 2008  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

Zed said:

But I'm more amazed that women aren't screaming their heads off at they way they are portrayed.

Exactly. Man-bashing advertisements are so last-century. And so are men who complain about them.

We men should have done something about it last-century and not colluded in women ruining themselves like Paris Hilton's parents ruined her.

We've moved beyond man-bashing as a central meme to man-bashing as the accepted background. We're now moving on to ads that portray American women accurately: ungrateful, manipulative, spiteful, violent, self-righteous, abusive.

The American Woman no longer needs a reason to bash a man--it's taken for granted he deserves it for something. In the new ads, when a man does something romantic or nice he gets his ass handed to him anyway.

And American women aren't offended by any of this--they're proud to be such random bitches.

One thing women are right about is that everything is mens' fault. I am so sick and tired of men impotently complaining like women about women.

As men, we can make this stop in a New York minute. We do run everything and we do have all the power, just like women say we do. They get away with this only because we are pussies par excellance. We suck and that's why modern American women suck.

10:33 PM, June 15, 2008  
Blogger Buckeye Tom said...


I agree with you. Hollywood’s latest craze for the ultimate female warrior has gone overboard.

I also see your point about shows like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver. However, I’m not so sure today’s dads would accept the 1950’s depiction either. For the most part, the fathers rarely interacted with their kids, except to discipline them. I would suggest Little House on the Prairie was probably, as good as it gets for TV dads.


“Teaching the girls to evade "female authority" might also be called teaching them independence.”

It’s a stretch to say, teaching children to defy a guardian’s instructions, and doing so in a deceptive way (sneaking around), is the same as teaching them “independence”.

I don’t think I’ve been unfair in my description of the Grant/Caron dynamic. However, here’s an excerpted from the New York Times review of the film, from 1964.

“ Obviously, it is a conflict between the urge to be irresponsible and the will to be efficient and tidy that we have in this lively comedy. The old Adam, snarly and rebellious, is called to task by a prim and proper Eve. With our social expectations, as demonstrated before this in such films as Charles Laughton's "The Beachcomber" and Humphrey Bogart's and Katharine Hepburn's "The African Queen," it shouldn't be hard to anticipate which of the characters wins.”

That was written in 1964, before feminists began their push, and yet the social expectation was, the woman would get her way.

10:50 PM, June 15, 2008  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

I don't think the NYT review captures the dynamic entirely, either, and it illustrates of the critical differences between the Grant movie and modern romantic comedies and commercials. (Commercials are usually 30-second slices of what we want life to be like.)

As has been said, the basic story arc of romantic comedies is known: boy meets girl cute, &c. The older romantic comedies tended to tended to show more movement on the side of the female as they recognized their errors and their own faults and the lack of knowledge of self, as pointed out by the male.

The modern romantic comedies often feature a curiously passive male. Take, for instance, "Enchanted", an otherwise fine movie in which the male lead mostly serves as a scenic prop. He looks pretty until he realizes he's in love with the female lead. The movement in the modern comedies is almost entirely on the female side, usually in the form of her realizing her own self worth or power, not prompted directly by interaction with the male, unless in a negative way. The males don't have much of an interior life besides serving as a prop at the wedding.

And that is an important difference between the modern and the older romantic comedies, and modern commercials. The befuddled male figure is indeed a stock element of comedy, but at one time so were females who didn't know what they really wanted until the right man set them right. (Which is what I argue happened in Father Goose.) In the case of the commercials, we have entirely male faults on display, without the offsetting stock figures of female comedy.

That's a major dramatic loss; from a story-telling standpoint it removes half the tension. The males wind up being passive props moved around on the stage until the eventual marriage. In the case of the commercials, they're stock comedy figures, but the commercials usually lack the straight man/funny man dynamic of the classic double acts.

4:00 AM, June 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As of late, Joe Biden has made some ripples, as have been discussed here on another thread.

Thinking out loud I figured he was fishing for votes and to get his head above the crowd - at the expense of men. He's looking for
(Hillary's)white female votes, anyway.

Well lo and behold, seems he may just be Obama's choice for VP. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Considering what he recently did, I'd say it's a cinch he's gonna be Obama's choice. The Clinton's aren't the only ones who do everything on purpose, and well calculated.

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