The Super Bowl War Between the Sexes
The Super Bowl isn’t just the annual playoff of pro football’s league champions–a day of beer, betting, whistling, cheers, and potato chips. Every year, the commercials that run during football’s most frenzied fan space provide a glimpse into the current status of the war between the sexes. Years ago, in fact, rumors that Super Bowl Sunday caused the highest incidences of domestic violence of any day in the year led to commericals for women’s shelters and hotlines to be advertised during game time. The truth is that there is no such correlation. But the myth persisted for years because it simply fit neatly into our ideas of men who watch football and the women who serve them their beer and snacks. Super Bowl Sunday, we seem to say as a culture, doesn’t belong to God but to King Testosterone. While advertisers seem to forget that women watch the Super Bowl–and in increasing numbers–game time is widely seen as the perfect opportunity to capture the attention of that remarkable species, the reb-blooded American male. What’s so interesting and revealing is the way they go about getting men’s attention…and what that says about the relationship between the sexes 2010.
Mary Elizabeth Williams did a great overview of the ads–and the male anxiety that they seem to reveal–on Salon.com. Noting that it costs $3 million to air the ads, she commented that they reached “an all-time high of emasculated rage” this year. There’s the one with the guy whose girlfriend has removed his spine and, instead of watching sports, he goes shopping for bras with her. Or the soft looking men singing that they wear no pants–then comes the Docker’s tagline about men wearing the pants again.
And then there’s the Dodge Charger ad. The war cry of the male who is emasculated because he has to put the toilet seat down. I’m not kidding! Or eat berries on his cereal. Or take calls from his girlfriend/wife when he’s at the office. Could these small wounds to a man’s right to loutishness, ten thousand paper cuts, be destroying men’s manliness? Check it out:
Funny, it reminds me of something that the great Simone de Beauvoir said about the fears that femininity was being lost in mid-twentieth century culture. She said that if femininity–which is supposed to be something essential to women–is so easily lost, then it couldn’t be real to begin with.
But back to the Super Bowl Slap Down (or is it “Seat Down”?) So, producer MacKenzie Fegan counters the Dodge charges of emasculation with the other side of the story. She did a spoof on the Super Bowl ad, replacing men’s complaints about women with complaints that you might hear from women about men.
Wow. Do your own comparison…and sure, the women’s video was not meant to be a Super Bowl commercial. But just think about the different worlds that are portrayed here. I thought that it was very revealing of where we are in our privileged postmodern culture in terms of gender relations and in our efforts to level the playing field between women and men.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts…