Thursday, February 7, 2008

What does Bud Light want from men?

During my recent voyage into obsession with the superbowl and the NY Giants, I was blessed with an unusal amount of football commercials. Particularly Miller and Bud Light commercials. I can't help but consider what these commercials say about my identity as a male. In fact, I have been thinking about what advertising does to the male self image in general.

Bare with me if my realizations are very dumb, but sometimes you go full circle to realize something quite obvious. Case in point, I recently realized that most advertising is geared toward a particular audience and thus adds for women are geared toward women and adds for men are geared for men. For example, models look the way they do, not for men, but in fact, for women. It isn't exactly accurate to say that fashion runway models don't reflect a circular relationship of body image and that is hardly produced outside the sphere of patriarchy, but nontheless, it is useful to bare in mind, that the target audience for much of the runway clothing is, in fact, women. Just like when I was walking along houston and 1st ave and I saw this massive American Apparrel add where this very thin girl is lying on her stomach with her ass sticking out. It was more than suggestive. Some grafitti activist types had written, "I wonder why women get raped." Well, is it that simple? I would think that the place to consider male self image would be the adds targeted at them. Clearly this add is geared toward women, right? Surely target marketing gears their images toward those that will buy from them.

I mean, ultimately, reducing rape to one image is a mistake in and of itself. But the grafitti on the sign really had me thinking. It was a provacation that I took seriously. Is it this add that leads to rape?

So, this leads me, in a round about way to considering these beer commercials. How, beer commercials lately have a very basic formula. The idiot guy surrounded by hot women, but at least he has his beer. In fact, the guy can never get it right. That is the major umph of those adds. This beer drinking football watching guy loves his friends, tries to get with hot women but messes it all up, and ultimately has his beer. These Bud Light guys just can't get anything right. They go to the opera, oops, bud light bottles explode in their jacket. Or, they ultimately, choose their beer over women. That is another version. He could have picked the woman, but he is driven by an overwhelming desire for bud light. It is a deeply anxiety driven ad (as they are supposed to be). But advertising itself, is a fear machine. It produces anxiety as its modus operandi. To think that every gender doesn't suffer under the hands of media is silly. Women have body issues shoved in their faces. Men have inadequacy issues thrown at them. But the point of many of the male adds, is, in fact, self hatred and aggression. Fuck it, the adds seem to say. It is an ethos of failure that they encourage with beer. Woe. Now that is a coctail of hostility.

Mira and I were talking about this last night. We were thinking how much the male image is now very much in line with a defensive, alienation. That is, men are advertised as dumb. Think Homer Simpson and Bart. Lisa is the smart one. The statistics that more women are going to college than men. Do you think this has anything to do with education being anti-masculine? Does this current depiction of male identity spawn from the anxiety produced by feminism? Of course it must.

But then again, football commercials are the easier ones. I mean, they are clearly gunning for a demographic who needs some real masculine massaging. But who doesn't need that? Sports commercial time is probably the easiest for finding basic masculine narratives. But not everyone watches sports. I think I will watch television and see how Charlie Rose commercials depict men. Be right back!

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