Saturday, April 16, 2011
"But he has a lot of GOOD qualities, too" she told me as she wiped her eyes with her well-worn hankerchief
I've gotten a lot of mileage from beer commercials over the past two years; in fact, there are times when I think I could write a blog snarking on nothing BUT this particular industry's nonstop assault on our intelligence.
Here are two examples of a common theme which runs through a lot of these ads. It's not the scruffy, beer-obsessed twenty-something jerk whose mind and life rotates around cans of low-alcohol, low-taste, foamy liquid. I'm done complaining that this guy is never shaven, never dressed in anything but jeans and a battered, unbuttoned, un-tucked-in shirt, and clearly threw away his comb the day he moved out of his mom's house. I'm also completely over the fact that he almost always seems to live in a very substantial suburban palace, despite being either single or married without children. And no, I'm not going to take the most obvious route and focus on the pathetically Pavlovian response the guy always gives at the very MENTION of beer.
No, the common theme I'm going to focus on concerns the rather sad situation faced by the women in these ads. Now, of course, women are always the long-suffering side of any television partnership, but this axiom is taken to another level in commercials for lite beer.
In Commercial #1, we see a couple enjoying what on television is considered "quality time"- guy watching tv, woman reading a magazine. The magazine is, significantly, Bride. Subtle, huh? By the end of the ad- which features Not Reading Groom Magazine boyfriend appealing to girlfriend's desperate need to believe that boyfriend has a Sensitive Side and is therefore really worth all her false hopes and successfully escaping to spend time with his real loved ones (they come in six-packs.) Poor, deluded girl. If she only knew what a dick her boyfriend was- I'm sure she'd respond with an eyeroll before returning to her Bride Magazine.
Commercial #2 is much, much sadder, but the message is pretty much the same. This time, the female character is taking a pregnancy test and anxiously keeping her significant other apprised of the progress as he stands in the kitchen (which is just off the bathroom. Ok.) I get the idea that maybe this is a young couple that has been trying to get pregnant for some time, and this is a very big moment. For one of them. Because while the female half of this "relationship" is expressing emotions completely appropriate for a woman who realizes that her life may very well be about to be altered in a very dramatic fashion, the Male she Inexplicably Chose to Mate With is engrossed in watching the mountains depicted on his beer cans turn blue.
The test is positive, and the beer reaches optimal drinking temperature, at about the same time. The "hilarious" punchline shows the (crushed, disappointed) woman stomping off (probably in tears, too bad we aren't allowed to see that, because what could be funnier than seeing the face of a woman who just realized that the father of her future child cares more about beer than her or their child?) while hubby(?) is left wondering What He Did This Time, and Will The Guys Get Here Before Kickoff This Week Cause He Can't Wait to Show Them These Awesome Cans.
The simple meanness and sexism of these ads really rankle. What are women to the guys who write this crap? Attachment-hungry, desperate, gullible prisoners of their own lack of self-esteem and the poor choices resulting from that fatal flaw. What are men? Cold-hearted, overgrown children who reserve their empathy for buddies who are out of light beer. Thank God that these characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental- or very, very disturbing. But what is going through the minds of the hateful choads who write these ads or think these situations are anything but really, really depressing?