I don’t know whether it’s the fact that about 80% of consumer purchase decisions in the US are made by women, or if the Mad Men of the advertising industry have all become beta males, but that industry is clearly addicted to the notion that making fun of men is how to sell things. The latest violator is Volkswagen’s agency, which thinks that it’s cute to use that most traditional of father-son activities, having a game of toss and catch with a baseball, to mock men in general and fathers in particular. A father is teaching his son how to throw a baseball, with a Passat in the driveway, but dad clearly doesn’t have a clue about the mechanics of throwing overhand, and the tagline is “Pass down something he will be grateful for”. When I was a boy, there wasn’t any political correctness, so it was okay to say that someone “throws like a girl”. That usually meant that they were unable to throw overhand in a conventional style. The dad in the Passat doesn’t throw like a girl, he throws like an awkward ostrich might, all with the self-assurance of an expert. Sure, it’s visually funny, but ultimately it’s about mocking men and fathers. I won’t hold my breath waiting for Jalopnik/Jezebel to call out VW for its “sexist” ad. Better to condemn Goodyear for an ad they used in the 1960s. Of course, VW is not unique. Dodge has made fun of men too, to sell SUVs of all things – and they run these ads during football games and car races. Men are expected to accept the mockery, even buy things from those who mock us.
Exit question: which is less common, commercials that make fun of women, or commercials that show men in a good light? I’m sure that VW will not take one YouTube commenter’s suggestion: “VW should have an ad in which an incompetent mother is trying to teach her pathetic daughter how to cook, slinging food all over the kitchen.”