Theory Teacher's Blog

Man’s Last Stand / Woman’s Last Stand

So, this advertisement for the Dodge Charger is one of the famous (or infamous) Super Bowl ads of this year. It basically depicts the malaise of the new-age, post-feminist male (whatever that is). The message seems to be that if you can’t be macho in your marriage, at least you can buy a macho car and cause traffic accidents by trying to drive like James Bond.

There is the usual whiney self-entitlement that has become unfortunately so typical of white men ever since the civil rights act in 1964 that made them merely equal before the law. (It’s such a drag being merely equal. So un-American.) And since the new Dodge Charger is basically a re-make of the old 1969 muscle car, not only the advertisement but also the very car itself suggests a nostalgia for the good ol’ days when men were men gosh dang it (i.e., when white men had privileges that women and non-whites didn’t.)

And if you think I’m being sarcastic, you’re right. Check out this this parody of the ad, which I really, really like — especially the last line that totally nails what’s so lame and pathetic about the Super Bowl commercial.

Is there more to say? I could do a more sophisticated analysis, pulling in lots of theory, but the theory’s already in there, so I think I’ll just let the YouTube parody do that work on its own.

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February 12, 2010 - Posted by | feminism, media

4 Comments »

  1. I knew you would do something with this commercial. It spoke to me and said “Hey, Steve would really get a kick out of this.” I’m glad someone thought to make a parody.

    Comment by Megan G | February 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. While watching the Superbowl, I thought, “is it just me, or about half of the ads ridiculously sexist?” Since I was home all week because the federal goverment was closed because of Snowmageddon, I had ample time to check out some of my favorite blogs’ reaction to this year’s ad theme of “whiny, faux-castrated male”:

    http://jezebel.com/5466569/the-critics-on-the-super-bowl-ads-boring-misogynistic

    http://jezebel.com/5466296/woes-of-bros-super-bowl-ads-star-pathetic-men—and-the-women-who-ruined-them/gallery/

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/019956.html

    Interesting note: the narrator for the “Man’s Last Stand” commercial was none other than Michael C. Hall, lead actor in “Dexter” a cable drama about a serial killer who kills other serial killers. I don’t think that casting was coincidental.

    In good news, it appears that the general public didn’t take too kindly to these commercials — in fact, Nielson (who rates stuff like this) did a study which placed all those idiotic ads at the bottom of their list of “most liked” ads:

    http://jezebel.com/5468507/sexism-doesnt-sell-at-the-super-bowl-part-two

    http://jezebel.com/5467705/does-sexism-sell-with-super-bowl-commercials-not-really?skyline=true&s=i

    There was a personal victory as well – I watched the Superbowl with my teenage brothers and their friends who barely reacted to those commercials. Afterward, they said that they thought those ads were kind of lame, but they weren’t exactly sure why. Win.

    Comment by M--- | February 13, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks M—, for those fabulous links, many of which include further good links. One of the questions raised on Jezebel is whether the excessive amount of lame misogyny is a symptom of the high unemployment rate. So, I’d like to pursue that one, since I was wondering that myself. In other words, if this theory is correct, unemployed men are frustrated and would take their frustrations out on women. We might also note some recent statistics that women now make up 51% of all “professional workers” in the U.S.(reported in the recent January 2 issue of the Economist magazine, http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15174418), and women are also well over half of people successfully graduating from college. We might also mention a tendency that college professors have been noticing that women are more likely to do study-abroad programs, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, etc., and also have higher grade point averages. It’s a frustrating dynamic for me and my colleagues as teachers, and we have no idea what to do about it. So, given the recent stresses of the economy, maybe advertisers thought they’d tap into the zeitgesit. In other words, following psychoanlytic theorists such as Freud and Lacan, perhaps the advertising agencies believed their stupid Super Bowl ads would be a symbolic “displacement” of men’s personal failure and the econmic “real”. Fortunately, as you and Jezebel point out — and as your little brothers intuitively felt — the advertisers were wrong.

      If the advertisers were wrong, does this mean that Freud and Lacan were wrong? One might see it another way and yet still be thinking with the tools of Lacanian psychoanalysis. After 8 years of macho cowboy politics by George W. Bush’s administration in response to 9/11, we now have a president who actually wants to treat people like human beings, make compromises, and talk instead of swagger. For 8 years, Bush was the libidinal phallus for all the insecure bro’s out there (and yes, the puns are intended.) In other words, the Bush administration successfully constructed the figure of “Bush” metonymically as the object-cause of male desire. In 2008, he was democratically castrated, so now what? For all those “faux-castrated” males as you put it (which perhaps will become a new fashion statemetn in the apparel industry, like faux-fur), WHERE’S THE PHALLUS NOW? Not Palin, and not Obama either. Will the real revolutionary please stand up? (Oh snap! That would be all of us yo! Never mind.)

      On a completely different note, Dr. J wrote:
      http://readmorewritemorethinkmorebemore.blogspot.com/2010/02/battle-of-sexists.html

      Comment by steventhomas | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. I found my way here via Dr. J’s blog.

    Above you wrote, “The message seems to be that if you can’t be macho in your marriage, at least you can buy a macho car and cause traffic accidents by trying to drive like James Bond.”

    I think you meant to write that it is A message, certainly not THE message.

    The videos (both the original and the parody) are mildly funny precisely because there is an element of truth to them both, as anyone who has found themselves doing things they don’t particularly like doing for some extended period of time can attest.

    Regarding your response to M—, it is safe to say that the advertising agencies responsible for this ad weren’t following any psychoanalytic theory when producing it. Also, though I am a Democrat and outspoken critic of many of Bush’s policies, Lacanian faux-critique of Bush as castrated cowboy is why so many people yawn and ignore this type of tripe.

    Comment by Chis G | February 15, 2010 | Reply


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