Ignorance is gender neutral

Dumb-and-DumberEver take note of the steady drumbeat of male bashing in print ads, TV commercials, sitcoms and  movies? It's not overt but, like death and taxes, it's something you can count on.

Here's a quick case in point. Doubleclick on this current State Farm commercial and tell me what you see. What I see are three separate examples of absurdly stupid men who spend the savings from their low-cost State Farm policies on such idiotic items as falcons. Note how the clever, level-headed wife uncovers the mystery of the missing money, who spent it (her hubby) and on what (the bird).

I wouldn't be writing this blog if the State Farm spot had included even one dopey woman. But, it doesn't. All three morons are men. In fact, if Madison Avenue creative directors and Hollywood screenwriters were asked to describe the average American male, they'd use adjectives such as: clueless, idiotic, helpless, befuddled and overwhelmed. Ask the same influencers to describe the average American female and you'd hear such superlatives as: bright, engaged, sensitive and multi-tasking (re: the latter, journeyman comic Darryl Salerno likes to ask, “If women are such great multi-taskers, how come they can't have sex and a headache at the same time?” His words. Not mine).

Want another insurance sector example of subliminal male bashing? Look no further than Geico's brilliant caveman campaign. How come the tagline doesn't state, “Insurance made so simple even a cavewoman could understand it”? The answer is obvious: we've been programmed to just accept the fact that men are stupid. So, ipso facto, cavewomen were smarter than cavemen.

I've been around long enough to know there are just as many ignorant women as men. But, our entertainment gurus have decided otherwise.

It doesn't bother me. But, it SHOULD bother you if you're a mom or dad of impressionable boys and young men because it's reinforcing a negative stereotype in their minds. And, conversely, girls and young women are being told they're superior to boys and, aside from procreation, really don't need them for much of anything.

Feminists might argue that men have no one to blame but themselves for the negative stereotyping. But, for every Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Tiger Woods, there's a Casey Anthony, Tonya Harding and the former governor of Alaska. Ignorance is gender neutral. But, the perceptions of our nation's future leaders are being shaped to believe otherwise.

Too much of anything is bad. It's high time for some responsible (and balanced) marketing and entertainment content from what Ad Age used to refer to as the 'intersection of Madison and Vine.' Let's call for a cease-fire on male-bashing.

4 thoughts on “Ignorance is gender neutral

  1. Why do advertisers need to bash any gender to sell their products? Instead of dumbing down, why not actually believe that we are an intelligent species (the former 1/2 term governor from Alaska excluded in that remark). I find it pathetic on all fronts. Does every beer waitress have to have had implants and wear the shortest shorts possible to sell a beer? We are the bimbos while you men are just plain stupid. I don’t like any of it, which is why I don’t watch TV.

  2. Thanks Book. Your comments mirror those made by Ken Jacobs on yesterday’s guest blog about Newsweek’s salacious cover story of Princess Diana. The best way to respond to gender bashing and sloppy, salacious journalism is to not patronize the content source in the first place. As Patty Smyth would say,”Good-bye to you!”

  3. As an expectant father, I thank you for this.
    Old-fashioned 30-second TV spots are stuck in lame old “creative” modes like “Dad Is Stupid” and “Males are Cavemen.” These geniuses are too cushy and insulated from reality to understand how much things have changed over the last 15 or 20 years.
    There are encouraging signs, though. Check out an interesting new Chrysler campaign:
    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=153620

  4. Thanks for the heads-up, Peter. I’m surprised there any creatives left in Hollywood or on Madison Avenue who are willing to portray men as intelligent beings. What is the world coming to?