In 2006, I made a vow to the powers that be that if the New Orleans Saints went to the Superbowl I would watch the Superbowl.
So that’s how I came to watch the Superbowl yesterday. I mean, actually watch it, as opposed to being in the same room with it on and looking up for halftime or replays of particularly interesting plays or ads that seemed like they might be funny. Which meant that I saw more ads than usual.
Now, maybe Superbowl ads are always like this, but even knowing it was football and such, I was still kind of dismayed by the way 99.9% of the ads just assumed I was a dude. I wasn’t surprised that they tended in a vaguely dudish direction. That was pretty expected. I was surprised by the way they so aggressively reached through the television and grabbed me by the neck and shouted, "You are a man! Be a man! And you know what it means to be a man, don’t you? That’s right! You despise all things of girliness! Including literature! Hygiene! Pants! Courtesy to your housemates! And sexy lingerie!"
Yeah, one of the ads — by far the worst of the afternoon — shows a dispirited young man standing in a lingerie department, holding some bags, with a blank look and a lacy red bra slung over his shoulder. The narrator informs us that "His girlfriend has removed his spine, rendering him incapable of watching the game.” Then the ad is for something called (I am not making this up) "FloTV" which will allow him to watch the game on his iPhone or whatever. Now, yeah, I object to the the rank lad-culture sexisim of the idea that all girlfriends/wives are emasculating (and sports-hating!) harpies. Yeah, ha-ha, she removed your spine dude! Take off the skirt!
But the choice to demonstrate this in a lingerie department is just… weird. Are we supposed to recognize lingerie department as being a place of torture for the typical heterosexual male, on par with a craft or fabric store? Really? They didn’t even have him holding her purse, he was just holding some neutral shopping bags. Or is the idea supposed to be that this guy is so demoralized by his monster of a girlfriend that he can’t even manage to enjoy himself in a lingerie department?
Whatever. Although, in spite of myself, I did laugh out loud when a guy in a different ad said "I will watch your vampire TV shows with you." You know, as an example of his devotion to things of non-dudeity, like hygiene and showing up to work on time, which, so, he should be allowed to drive whatever kind of dude car he wants, which means, yeah, a Dodge Charger, for some reason.
The Superbowl is such a huge cultural event, I’m a little shocked that the advertisers seemed to feel so free to just assume that no women at all could possibly be watching. And also to assume that all the men watching were such women-hating (but ohmygod certainly not gay! even though we prefer the company of men to the company of women! and are indifferent to our hot girlfriends trying on sexy lingerie in a sexy lingerie department! and our favorite sport is a bunch of buff guys in tight pants tackling each other in slow motion!) morons who would also be really entertained to see themselves be characterized as women-hating morons.
But the game itself was actually terrific and fun. If the Saints go back to the Superbowl I will totally watch it again.