I’ve raised concerns in the past about the “men are stupid” variety of commercials that proliferate in our culture. The usual approach is to sell a product by showing some total buffoon of a man trying to use a product about which he doesn’t have a clue. And then some wise woman sets him straight—or even worse, the kids come to his rescue. The whole scenario goes something like this: “Gee, Honey, I’m just a stupid man. How does this product work?” And the wise wife responds, “Oh, Dear, that’s not how it’s done. Here, let me show you.”
Maybe some of the complaints are starting to register on Madison Avenue, because I’ve seen some improvement. The Cheerios commercial at the bottom of this post isn’t without its flaws, but at least it presents a normal man—a father even! And guess what? He actually seems to know what he’s doing and commands a little respect from his wife and kids. And they actually appear to like him! I know this doesn’t seem possible. After all, aren’t all men oversexed buffoons and even worse than children when it comes to having a clue? Isn’t beer and football all they know about?
Well at least this one commercial shows another side. It is a bit over the top in its cinematic technique, but it is drawing on a technique first used in the TV series “St. Elsewhere” and perfected in “West Wing,” which features the main characters moving quickly through a set of many rooms and navigating numerous conversations and situations in a rapid-fire way. The effect is stimulating and provides a vigorous study of the main characters and a vivid portrait of their lives.
The commercial is just quirky enough to escape the critique of the highly “un-PC” notion that most men and dads are decent guys, who are not stupid, and who exert a good influence on their kids through both support and admonishment. Without its cool quirkiness it would not likely have escaped the “PC-enforcers,” who would never brook the notion of supporting Scripture, which says, The Lord sets a father in honor over his children (Sirach 3:2). My favorite line in the commercial is, “Now, dad-ability isn’t always easy. When a rule is broken we’re the enforcement. But when a heart is broken we’re the reinforcement.”
I’m sure you’ve noticed the playful practice in modern times of “verbing,” wherein a noun, or less commonly an adjective, is turned into a verb: “Your verbing weirds me out.” The title of the commercial below is “How to Dad,” in which “Dad,” a noun, is used as a verb. I have mixed feelings about the practice but here it is done in fun.
Enjoy the commercial!