Watching television these days you can’t help but notice a disturbing trend — men are stupid.
What I’m saying is men, in general, on TV commercials are portrayed as bumbling idiots who can’t perform the simplest of tasks without the help of the wife, kids or family pet. In almost any commercial the main male protagonist is some dope who’s confused about how his insurance works, needs help ordering fish tacos or can’t clean the toilet properly. Most of the time the commercial idiot wants to put the toilet cleaner on the outside of the bowl.
This trend is pretty pervasive. It’s even bled over into a lot of TV shows.
There’s really only one major exception to this rule these days — the guy with erectile dysfunction. In every ED commercial the guy with, ahem, bedroom difficulties is portrayed as the biggest do-it-yourself man’s man you’ve ever seen. He’s pulling trucks out of the mud with a team of horses, repairing race cars and sailing through a summer squall. At the end of every commercial he’s headed back to his house with his unenthusiastic buddy — presumptively — to pop a little pill, pleasure his lady and then go outside to soak in separate bathtubs and watch the sun set. (I might be conflating two ED commercials there. Forgive me. Ever since Brian Williams’ faux pas have come to light I’ve found it easier and easier to conflate.)
I’m not really sure why the erectile dysfunction guy is treated with such reverence in commercials, while John Q. Regular guy is the butt of a “how many ——-s does it take to screw in a light bulb” joke. There are probably some Freudian things there about the Id, the Ego and the dangers of high blood pressure.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Yes, he’s right. Most of the men in TV commercials ARE made out to be idiots, but why in the world is Holbert writing about that? Is he drunk?”
That would be a reasonable thought process given that I’m writing this column during the apex of Mardi Gras, but there is some loftier point here. I’m sure.
I think the point was supposed to be how annoying it is as a man to constantly see my fellow single-x chromosome home boys portrayed as idiots, even though there are certainly men who live up to that standard — even some with ED. This type of gender discrimination is acceptable because we’re men and nobody wants to hear us whine because, well, we did the same thing to everyone else for so long. Oops.
And — OK this is where all of this comes together — it’s also how I feel as an Alabamian. We’re the country’s idiots. Go somewhere else and mention you’re from Alabama or Mississippi and you’re immediately considered some kind of freak. They’re amazed if you display any knowledge of things other than NASCAR and football, although why anyone would waste brain space remembering non-football or NASCAR things is beyond me.
When I lived in Washington, D.C. several years ago, just being a friendly Southerner I struck up a conversation with a woman with whom we were sharing a cab. She said she was from Minnesota and I mentioned being from The Magnolia State. She immediately hissed “God I hate Mississippi and people from Mississippi! You’re all such idiots.” I’d quickly mentioned Mississippi had added far more to the literary and musical tapestry of our fine country than had the Land of a Bunch of Lakes. She didn’t think so. I told her to give me a list of Minnesota’s best and that I’d spot her Prince and Garrison Keillor. She was tongue-tied.
I then rattled off about 20 writers and musicians who’d come from ‘Sippi. One small skirmish won for the South in the back of a cab.
But it’s hard to constantly fight the common misconception we’re all a bunch of drooling morons in this part of the country when some of our people act like such drooling morons on the national stage.
For instance, the actions of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore last week did nothing to help give people in other parts of the country an opportunity to say “Hey, you know Alabama’s not so back-assward after all.” Roy’s completely useless edict for Alabama’s probate court judges not to marry same-sex couples only allowed all the Bama haters across the country to roll their eyes and giggle about the cavemen running our state.
While I’m not saying we should always worry about what they think in states like New Hampshire or Connecticut, where they like to think they’re all superior while they’re probably busy pulling trucks out of the mud with horses or sitting in separate bathtubs, just once in a while it would be nice not to have to apologize for our leadership.
The constant negative stereotypes have their effects. My kids now always seem to think I’m too dumb to work the remote control, even though I taught them how to use it. I blame the commercials and TV shows. Along with the pure number of buttons on the remote that don’t seem to have a use.
And I blame Roy Moore for yet another black eye for the state that just helped reinforce the anti-Southern stereotypes for people like my D.C. cab buddy. As everyone with any sense knew would happen, Roy’s edict was quickly slapped down by the feds, which should have left him embarrassed. Instead I’m sure he’s proud to have had the chance to babble on CNN and have his name printed in every newspaper in America.
I don’t know how Alabama is ever going to stop being the national whipping boy with such buffoonery, and I’m sure there are plenty of people in this state who feel like Moore “stood up” for something important and who couldn’t care less if he really just looked like a clown and by extension made the state look foolish.
Hopefully when Moore tries to parlay this latest foolishness into another run at the Governor’s mansion or some other office, the people of Alabama will think twice about whether we really want someone who acts like he might be better off starring in an insurance commercial.
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