November 11, 2003

CRAIG HENRY WONDERS if the popular "men are dumb" theme in advertising is one reason why male viewers are deserting TV in droves.

I certainly find it a turnoff, and I'm unlikely to buy a product whose advertiser portrays me as stupid. I don't know if I'm typical that way, though.

UPDATE: Reader Ronnie Schreiber emails:

It's not just commercials. Borrowing, at some risk, a little from Naomi Wolf and other feminists who harped about the unreasonable expectations that society places on women and how they look, the image portrayed of the average man in popular culture on one hand is such a loser and the ideal male being pushed by the media/entertainment complex on the other is unattainable for most (the 'metrosexual' thing is just another way of saying that today's 'ideal' male, a sensitive guy who knows how to dress well and has a hairless buff body with a six pack and small tuchas, is gay) has led many men to abandon traditional media sources.

I happened to watch the new reality tv show, Average Joe, where a former beauty queen has to pick from a variety of geeks, 'nice guys', nerds, and other guys who have experienced plenty of rejection from average women, let alone beauty queens. One guy had a partial hearing loss, another was at least 6' 5" tall and maybe 350 lbs. with a bad case of eczema. You get the picture. The show is edited to show them to look as pathetic as possible.

I asked a friend if he could see a show being made called Average Jane, where average looking women compete for a rich, good looking guy. His response was "that would be cruel". Of course Average Jane would have a hard time finding an audience today. Average Joe can find an audience because average men will tune in to watch the beauty queen and engage in the fantasy of winning a competition like that while ignoring how pathetic the men look. Women, average or otherwise, will always tune in to watch men be pathetic losers. On the other hand, with Average Jane, who would watch? Average men won't watch a show with a good looking guy and a bunch of average women and average women wouldn't be comfortable watching the behavior of the women on the show. I think that in today's culture you just can't say anything bad about women or show a woman in poor light.

I think that double standard is what most men find most irritating.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Haker writes:

Believe me, it's not just the guys who are turned off! Women are looking for partners in life, not another baby to care for, but that is how so many men on TV are portrayed: as bumbling fools who have to have their wise and long-suffering wives clean up after their messes.

Women don't want to see long-suffering wives on TV! They want to see mature, responsible men.

One hopes.

MORE: Megan McArdle thinks that it would help if men shopped more. Hmm. Maybe. But I don't think that excuses the double standard.