Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do the "Men as Buffoons" ads really sell anything?

I posted a commentary late last year about how sick I am of seeing only ads that portray men as idiots and bad fathers. Inevitably, over and over, advertisers show men as the buffoon of the family, requiring the mother or child to come to his rescue when he partakes in some idiocy of the masculine kind. Every once in a while would not be a problem - we men certainly have our foibles - but it is by far the dominant paradigm in advertising nowadays.

But now, it appears advertisers are finally taking notice. Ad Age has up this article which calls for more positive portrayals of men in advertising.

While the advertising industry's negative depiction of fathers certainly isn't the cause of fatherlessness, it is part of the problem. In a TV culture like ours, the fact that the only fathers one can see on TV are buffoonish (at best) does influence young people's perceptions of fathers.

For young men, it makes it less likely they'll aspire to be fathers, see their own value as fathers or, as Mr. Pitts explains, want to do the "hard but crucial work of being Dad." For young women, it means they'll be more likely to be misled into thinking that their children's fathers aren't important, that divorce or separation from them is no big deal, or that they should, as is the increasing trend, simply dispense with dad altogether and have children on their own.
Here is hoping that this gains some momentum and we see more ads showing men as engaged, competent fathers. It can only help our society remember that fathers are important, and men should strive to be the best men and fathers they can be.


shadwomom1 said...

1950's TV has been criticized for overdoing the wisdom of fathers, a la Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, but at least men and boys had role models and an idea of what an ideal father should be like.

I've also hear many people say that FAMILIES were never like that, but I know for a fact that they were very much like that. Most that I grew up with in middle-middle class NJ were like that.

Nomad said...

I regularly watch the program "My Name Is Earl" which is ostensibly about a man trying to turn his life around. One of the reasons I like the show is even though EVERY character is deeply flawed, every father is TRYING to do right by his son. The main character has two sons which he knows for a fact are not his, and still tries to raise them the best way he knows how. His "best way" is comically foolish, but it shows the right priorities in that relationship at least.