Posts Tagged ‘ male entitlement

Either I Get a Dodge, or I Murder You

There were a lot of bad commercials during the Superbowl last night, but only one really brought me up short: the Dodge Charger ad, “Man’s Last Stand”.

I think the advertiser was looking to evoke an, “I hear you, brother,” reaction from the men in the audience, but frankly this ad was scary. There is a seething undercurrent of violence and hatred to this monologue, reinforced by the dead and crumpled faces of the self-appointed victims. Especially the last guy, who looks like his face is about to start twitching with suppressed rage.

Listening to this monologue, I get the feeling that “Man’s Last Stand” isn’t going to be a toy car. The narrator’s spiritual sickness is past the formidable healing powers of the Dodge Charger. He’s going to drive his car to the gun shop, fill a gym bag with weapons and ammo, and then he’s going to start settling the score with his wife, his employer, and anyone else who has made him feel like an emasculated nonentity.

Admittedly, this is a dark reading of the material, but in the last year or so I have reached the conclusion that angry, frustrated men scare the shit out of me. There are only so many senseless shooting sprees and mass murders one can hear about before you reach the conclusion that male disaffection might be a serious problem. It seems to be at the root of a lot of heinous behavior.

The saddest part of this ad might be the specific grievances themselves. The men in the audience are supposed to identify with the narrator as he bitterly reads these lines.

  • I will shave. I will clean the sink after I shave.
  • I will say yes when you want me to say yes. I will be quiet when you don’t want to hear me say no.
  • I will take your call. I will listen to your opinion of my friends.
  • I will be civil to your mother.
  • I will put the seat down.
  • I will separate the recycling.
  • I will carry your lip balm.
  • I will put my underwear in the basket.

The horror, the horror! How does a man face the black day in which he is expected not only to shave, but to clean the sink after he is finished, and to make certain that his soiled underwear aren’t left lying around the house?

This is deeply entitled misery. In my world, these are minimal courtesies that you should expect to perform as a matter of course, and the notion of taking umbrage at them is laughable. Yet this ad confesses that the barest minimum of respect and cooperation is too much to ask, and it expects me to lean close to the screen and whisper, “Yeah, it drives me crazy, too.” Sorry, no, you’re being a wimp and, far more than a car, you need to man the fuck up.

Finally, there is the completely misplaced blame in this commercial. The ad is a litany of  extremely petty indignities and self-pity for the man’s lowly lot in life, the woman is at fault, and the solution is to buy a Dodge Charger. I get it, the ad exists to sell me something, but this is a really self-defeating approach to that goal. Because it’s the Dodge Charger that’s going to make you miserable, not the woman who asks you to sort the recycling.

To quote my old friend Tyler Durden, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”

This commercial ends with the Charger roaring down an empty stretch of highway, but c’mon, we know the truth. The Charger becomes, in gridlock, just another car ferrying you from the hell of your morning to the hell of your workday. You can’t quit the job that makes you miserable because now you’ve got more payments to make. God forbid you every try and let that engine out to play, because some equally frustrated cop will pull you over and force you to go through the tedious, Good-morning-officer-what’s-your-hurry tango. Then he’ll take twenty minutes to write a $125 dollar ticket and tell you what a favor he’s doing you by knocking three miles an hour off your violation and he’ll pretend that any of this has to do with road safety. Then you’ll get to pay higher insurance rates on the car that’s already dead weight on your monthly budget, and your relationship will be further strained with the woman who reluctantly agreed to get you your car and who still can’t quite understand why you need it in the first place and why you’re so angry, because instead of talking to her about it, you bought a car.