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Fred's Views


The Pitchman Cometh

One of the U.S. breweries (I forgot which one, I was too busy watching the girls) has a commercial (Oh, yeah! it's Miller Lite, I remember now.) where two beautiful young ladies get into an argument over whether or not Miller Lite is preferred because it tastes good or is less filling. (It's an old slogan wrapped, rather nicely, in a brand new package.) The fight becomes physical as they flip each other into a water fountain, rip off their outer clothes (pity) and end up in a trough of wet cement still going strong. The mesmerized men question who could possibly object to such a commercial while two other young women who, for some unknown reason, condescend to be discovered in the company of these men, exchange knowing glances.

Apparently, women, or women's organizations (they are definitely not the same thing) have been mounting protests about the commercial exploiting and demeaning women. To the extent that men's obvious fantasies are played out by real people, it is, perhaps exploiting or demeaning. But these protestors miss the point. In reality, this is yet one more in a rather long list of beer commercials that poke fun at the inadequacies of men - their principal customers. They can get away with it because many men just aren't that bright. There were the men who, for some reason, couldn't speak English but kept calling each other up and grunting at each other like cave men. And let's not forget that, originally, this slogan featured men getting into brawls. Where are the men and the male organizations (are there such a thing?) to complain about these commercials demeaning men? (Of course, no one would believe them.)

Nike has its own commercial. This one really is sad. It takes place at a boring British soccer match. In the middle of a game out comes a streaker (male, of course) wearing nothing but a scarf, a pair of Nikes (so they claim) and a fuzzy something or other around the vitals (for our benefit, thankfully). Now, if we didn't all know that men are stupid, especially men with beer, we would find this demeaning of men - and obviously exploitive. But we don't.

There still appears to be a double standard, but I think the women's organizations are getting it wrong. These commercials are far more demeaning of men than women. And as for exploitation? Attractive people (male and female) are often paid big bucks to pose as models and hucksters. They certainly aren't exploited. While I'm sure drunken women can be every bit as obnoxious as drunken men, the commercial obviously doesn't want to give the impression that these women are drunk. And as dumb as some men are, I'm sure not one of them believes that the scene portrayed in the commercial could appear anywhere else except in some man's fantasies.

But okay. Some kid might be watching and see these women apparently making fools of themselves. What's he going to think? That women can be just as dumb as men? Okay, so that is demeaning to women, but only a little. Get over it.

Speaking of commercials, this is the week that all those great commercials are unveiled! Well, sometimes. Wasn't it last year that Pepsi unveiled its "BritneyBomb"; the commercials that featured Britney Spears and were downright boring! Where are our lizards and frogs? Will we see some innovation this year, or will we see more ho-hum fare from the very same people who think "reality" is a synonym for "contrived, unbelievable and ininteresting"?

We have a "small dish" satellite system, and now we enjoy the same confusion as cable owners when it comes to watching U.S. channels. Sometimes the commercials are U.S., sometimes Canadian. We tune in a Boston station on the dish only to have the signal switched to a Canadian source while it broadcasts an American program. Then, when the news comes on, we're suddenly switched back to Boston. What sense does this make? Just proof that governments can still be stupider than Hollywood. I don't know why that should surprise me, most politicians still are men! It's enough, sometimes, to make one want to switch genders, almost.

Copyright © 2003 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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