If you’re a sports fan, your weekends are likely wallpapered with television advertisements that purport to explain what being a “man” is all about. One’s masculinity, according to ad writers, is currently derived from your choice of satellite television company, what kind of body wash you use, and most of all, what kind of beer you drink. In fact, Miller Lite will actually declare you to be more of a man if you drink their beer from a “vortex” bottle, which is aerodynamically engineered to fire beer down your throat with the velocity of a Blunderbuss hand cannon.
Of course, nobody expects a beer commercial to be an Aesop-style morality tale. Women have been insulted in beer ads for decades; men are simply catching up. Miller just recently ended a slew of particularly obnoxious commercials that consistently featured men being jerks to pretty women – a puzzling situation to which no man can actually relate.
But the current “MAN UP!” meme is particularly grating, given the ubiquity of the ads. They generally feature some doofus engaging in an effeminate act, while simultaneously enjoying a drink that is not Miller Lite. They are then publicly ridiculed for both transgressions by their a-hole friends, who also happen to have a comely woman draped on each arm. According to the Miller ad people, Winston Churchill would be considered a pansy because he chose to shower his liver with God’s gift of Johnnie Walker Black his entire life – and not a more “masculine” lite beer.
Of course, challenging one’s manhood by calling them a girl isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. During the Civil War, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a poem excoriating the “sweet little men” who dodged military duty:
“Bring him the buttonless garment of a woman!
Cover his face lest it freckle and tan;
Muster the Apron-string Guards on the Common,-
That is the corps for the sweet little man!”
In other words: “MAN UP!”
But within the world of television advertising, the only deed that matters is what product you use. Men are almost uniformly depicted as simplistic baboons, barely able to function in society. Mom leaves town? Dad can’t do anything in the kitchen, so he better call for a pizza! Need to clean the house because your husband is a pig? Get a Roomba! Be careful letting dad play with the kids – he might injure himself! Things have to be so simple, even cavemen can do them.
One only needs to watch 15 minutes of the TLC Network show “Say Yes to the Dress” to be disavowed of any notion that women are more evolved than men. The show involves a full hour of nothing but women trying on wedding dresses while their bridesmaids roll their eyes and cluck at their gaudy fashion transgressions. And if watching that show doesn’t improve your relative impression of males, take comedian Adam Corolla’s advice and “go down to the patent office… and see all the innovations women didn’t come up with.”
Yet even if “manhood” is considered a desirable thing, your masculinity is now apparently dependent on your choice of booze. You’ll never see an ad praising a man for doing truly manly things, like reading to his kids, or taking care of his elderly parents, or working tirelessly on a cure for Alzheimer’s. If Einstein had been in college in 2011, his theory of relativity would instead read “Beer Before Liquor = Never Sicker.”
All I really want is to be able to watch inhuman amounts of sports on the weekend without being subjected to a commercial threatening to revoke my “man card” every seven minutes. (Apparently you need one as identification to get into any d-bag convention held around the country.) It’s gotten so bad, I actually brought it up at my Twilight discussion group last week.