Agreed, all of these overdone stereotypes are lazy and demeaning.
Advertising (and American films/TV) have been trading on our lazy gender mythos for years. We had a moment in the 90’s where our heteronormative gender binary was opening up a bit, but the backlash to the “PC Nazis” has clamped us down into the narrowest of gender roles yet again, and our media is more than happy to reinforce these.
The Miller Lite ads drive me f***ing batsh*t. If a bartender ever called someone a “momma’s boy” or a *****(cat) for my choice of beer, she’d be unemployed within seconds. The Coors Lite “bar exam” ads are demeaning and insulting to everyone involved as well. Hey, blow off that $150,000 education you’ll be paying loans on for 20 years, and certainly make sure you lie to the woman that’s no doubt been feeding you for the last 4 years that you’ve been in Law School, and go to the bar and get sh*tfaced with strangers!
Rom-coms and even mainstream comedies use this lazy cultural shorthand to avoid, I dunno, costly character development? Crap like “Couples Retreat”, “The Dillema”, “Hall Pass”, “The Hangover”, “The Change Up” and a disgusting host of other generic “Men are from Mars, screenwriters are from sh*tsville” movies all depend on and reinforce these awful gender stereotypes.
We get it, Kevin James/Vince Vaughn/Will Ferrel/Paul Rudd/Ryan Reynolds/Dane Cook/Bradley Cooper is a likeable douchebag who will eventually learn some pithy little lesson about how he should step up and “be a real man” and let some shrill harpy ruin his life. Or not. Or he’ll figure out how ultra-perky yet oddly one dimensional Mila Kunis/Katherine Heigl/Kristen Bell/Jennifer Anniston was perfect for them all along. It doesn’t matter. The ending comes from a mix of third rate New Age pop psychology blather and fortune cookies wrapped in some bizarre male wish fulfillment fantasy world anyways.
Even the so-called female fantasy crap like “Sex and the City” and “Cougar Town” trades on these awful stereotypes. These screenwriters need to be beaten into the hospital with bell hooks books.
But the interesting thing is that the majority of people still think this way. Whether the media creates or merely reinforces these stereotypes, it’s clear that our creatively bankrupt, cowardly media have zero interest in challenging the status quo, and enough people believe that crap to make it viable.
This country is still financially run by the 18-35 year olds who have grown up in a world where being a horrible person still gets you everything. Being a total sh*thead is what succeeds, and fitting in is the most important thing you can do. If you aren’t a Housewife of Beverly Hills or a Jersey Shore Situation, you ain’t nuthin. And that’s who these ads cater to. People who actually have their emotional sh*t together tend to do research, and buy the product that actually best suits their needs. So screw it, try to get the idiots to develop an emotional response to beer that tastes like dog piss or just paint it pink and say it’s for women.
It’s a dangerous cycle, where these outlets are how kids view gender and relationships. Even now, as advertising outlets grow and grow – it’s estimated that we see 3000-5000 ad images a day – media plays an increasing role in defining and reinforcing the status quo. We’re hitting a generation entering their 30’s where huge numbers of them are completely incapable of forming long term relationships because they simply have never seen those skills modeled. Life has been set up to them as this game in which you are the richest guy, the hottest chick, you get married and have kids, and everything works out as long as you can brag about it to your “friends”. Yet they are finding that they are deeply miserable, and don’t know why. Well, because Madison Avenue has a vested interest in maintaining childish selfishness and poor impulse control linked to material goods as a substitution for self esteem.
I’m painting with a broad brush, obviously, but these gestalts are clearly visible among the population at large. And it makes me sad and frustrated that so many people are oblivious to how damaging this crap is to their own pursuit of happiness.
Happy people come in all shapes, sizes, and talents. I wish our media reflected this.