OK, you know the typical drill of a TV commercial: As the scene opens, some buffoon of a man, usually a husband, is struggling to have a clue as to what something is all about. Sure enough, an all-knowing woman (usually the wife), rolling her eyes and shaking her head in pity, is there to help the stupid buffoon of a man not utterly ruin everything. And of course the product being peddled is usually part of the solution. And, by the way, did I mention that the man is stupid? In an alternate version, it is the children who are all-wise, and they help the idiot father figure things out as they step in with the product. And of course we’re all supposed to laugh: “Ha, Ha, Ha look at that stupid guy. What an idiot!”
Obviously these ads are not trying to sell anything to me. I am far more prone to refuse to buy any product that says, “Hey, buy our product you buffoon.” Perhaps they are targeted to women? Even worse, to children?
OK, now remember this is a “rant.” And a rant is “to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner.” I don’t lack any sense of humor, and can laugh at myself and the male sex from time to time. But, after a while, these ads are wearying, and their frequency does indicate to me something that is fundamentally unhealthy in our culture.
The greatest harm, I think, comes to children who see men, and especially fathers, presented as idiots, crude, foolish, lustful and just plain stupid. A steady diet of this served up in commercials does not help them respect their elders, especially their fathers, and other male authority figures.
Neither does it really help women. The “men are idiots” thinking may have a certain “charm” or humor angle, (i.e., it’s interesting at times to poke fun at the differences between men and women), but in the end, it isn’t a good attitude to cultivate. Women do owe men respect, just as a fellow human beings. And, for those who accept Scripture, a husband is at the head of the house. Ridicule and caricature, are not helpful dispositions in cultivating family love and unity.
Neither do these ads help men. It is always best for men to see their best qualities exemplified. Instead what they get is a portrait that men are not only stupid, they are lazy, unfaithful, lustful, inappropriate, addicted to beer, lousy fathers, unkempt, inattentive to their wife and kids due to sports, and did I mention, stupid? How does a steady diet of this help men?
Some argue that these ads, of reflect culture. Really? Are all men like this? They may reflect culture in the sense that male characteristics are often on the outs and that it is politically correct to caricature men. Try reversing the roles and put the woman in the role of buffoon and see how that would fly.
But not only do the ads reflect culture, they help shape it. Again I ask, how does all this negativity help men and boys to understand what is good about them? There are very few healthy male portraits in current culture. It is not only the buffoonery of the ads, it is the extremely violent and hyper-sexualized “heroes” of the movies, idiosyncratic actors, freakish rock and rap stars, often immoral or out of control sports figures, effeminate, and weak sitcom “dads,” and the thuggish, criminal and unfaithful men of series such as Sopranos. None of this helps young men toward grasping their better nature and becoming good, responsible husbands and fathers.
So there is my rant. Below are a number of videos that portray the “men are idiots” commercials. As always, I am interested in your thoughts.