Thursday, October 13, 2011
THE DOCTOR IS OUT OF TOUCH
The above is an ad that's been running on TV a bit of late, and has—probably intentionally—provoked a bit of controversy. You may have noticed that I don't talk a whole lot about advertising here, even though it's an occasionally interesting form of cinema, mainly because there's baggage (politics, memetics, aesthetic morality, all kinds of complicated shit). This one, though, requires response, because otherwise I'm going to dent a wall slamming it with my fucking head.
I'm a guy. I like beer. I like sports. I like movies where lots of shit blows up. I'm what you might call, if you felt so fancy, a bit gender normative in all these regards. None of these pleasures induce the slightest bit of guilt. Guilty pleasures are for people who need to loosen the fuck up. By that same token, I'm not one of those morality police-ass motherfuckers always running around telling people, “WAAAAA YOU CAN'T SAY THINK DO OR FEEL THAT BECAUSE OH MY GOD YOU NEED TO BE SENSITIVE WAAAAA” because those people are fucking assholes. When I was a little kid in Park Slope, I went to this mildly schmancy summer arts day camp, which was enlightening and kept me out of trouble when school was out. Being the Slope in the late 80s, it meant there were a whole lot of upper-middle-class junior progressives there, but most of them were okay. The camp people would hook us up with popsicles at the end of the day because it was the summer, and this one day one of the other scruffball troublemaker types I hung around with tossed his popsicle wrapper on the ground. A dick move, and a sign of poor breeding, to be sure, but nothing I was about to break his balls about. This other kid, though, swoops in and in his high-pitched little kid sanctimonious voice squeak-bellows, “YOU LITTERED! THAT'S WRONG! YOU HAVE TO PICK THAT UP AND NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! YOU LITTERED!” I mean, come on. There's politically correct and there's being the little fuck who gets all the extra credit questions right, and this kid was the kind the latter roll their eyes at and call dipshit. Scolding people for bullshit just deepens their resolve to do that kind of shit again.
Then again, right is right and wrong is wrong. Back to that ad for a second. The people who made that ad are operating under all kinds of upfucked assumptions. Let's unpack and dissect:
1—Only dudes like action movies. This right here's about as bullshit as bullshit gets. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I grew up with a dad who didn't really like typical dad stuff. He was indifferent to, if not contemptuous of, sports and the only way you could get him to sit through a violent movie is if it was SF. Thus, my entire responsibility for my early education in both sports and violent movies fell to my mom, who was more than capable of taking care of this, but still, it was all up to her. And it's not like she took this responsibility on because she was on some martyrdom trip, like “in the absence of a traditional male role model, I shall nobly resist and suppress my feminine nature in aid of what must be done for my child.” Fuck that shit, she wanted someone to watch Knicks games and car chase movies with. And as awesome and unconventional as she is, she's not the only woman in the world with these tastes by any means. I get most of my fantasy hockey advice (and not bad at all, either) from a woman friend, and I'm in two different fantasy football leagues with another woman friend, among many other examples. Action movies? Fuckin' forget it, it'd be easier for me to count the number of women I know who don't like violence than the ones that do. Don't even come at me with bullshit about small sample sizes and so forth. Even if you somehow managed to collect stats for the whole movie-watching world and came up with something like less than half women like violent movies, or even if you found out only a third did, you can take that “only dudes like action movies” hooey and jam it in your ass.
2—There is anything manly about drinking diet soda. There are two reasons to drink soda: sugar and caffeine. It is a terrible vehicle for either of these things. If you still need your caffeine fix and for dietary reasons you need to lay off the sugar or something, nut up and drink some fucking black coffee. Putting sugar in your coffee is weakness, and putting milk in it is racist. If you're in a tea-drinking country, tea's fine, just put like twelve bags in the kettle and get ready for fucking liftoff. Relying on soda for caffeine is like jerking off with the crook of your elbow.
3—This “no women allowed” thing. Now, this'd be a whole 'nother deal if Dr. Pepper was like, “you know what? With the number of states passing marriage equality votes, and with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell finally allowing members of the military to come out, let's reach out and market our new diet soft drink to gay men.” Which would be just as dumb, because then you'd be shafting the lesbians, and their whole trip is that that's not their trip. There's no way this “no women allowed” shit isn't sexist. At all. There are nights you hang out with your dudes, or your chicks, and it's just dudes or just chicks, and that is what it is, but if you're some dude hanging with your dudes and you're saying (or, shit, thinking) “Fuck yeah, bro, I'm fuckin glad as fuck there aren't any fucking chicks around bro, fuck that shit, bros before hoes, bro, fuck yeah!” you need to broaden your horizons. You may even find a female friend who finds your double entendres about broadening your horizons by hanging out with broads funny. (Ed. Note: I'm living proof!)
Ad people are probably looking at all the people tweeting and blogging about how fucking stupid this is and going “Well, the spot did its job, people are talking.” Here's the problem with that assumption: all the people talking about this are pissed. They're not going to suddenly want to have makeup sex with this dumb diet soda. And, on the off chance, some dumbfuck bro types are sitting around going “Fuck yeah, bro,” those dummies aren't about to go drink this piss. They're barely going to remember what the fucking ad was for thirty seconds later. The net result is, you pissed a bunch of people off for nothing. All because you couldn't be fucking bothered to think about what human beings are like beyond a stereotypical level.
Rather than end on an angry note, let me raise a glass to all the women out there who like action movies. Let me raise another glass to the men who aren't so stunned by that affinity that they treat those women like unicorns, and instead do the sensible thing and kick it about action movies with them. Let's raise a glass to treating people like human fucking beings. And rest assured, what is in the glass I raise will not be Dr. Pepper.