Super Bowl Commercials, To Everyone’s Surprise, Sexist

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Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. RocketFrog says:

    I personally think the problem with the Stamos ad is that it apparently works from the assumption that an act of violence is amusing, and a way to get people interested in buying your product.

    Is their target demographic violent sociopaths? I honestly cannot work out what their marketing people were thinking when they made that ad.

  2. I honestly didn’t see the first half of the M&M’s ad. I only noticed Red saying “so it’s THAT kind of party” and doing a striptease. If you miss the first half, the sexism goes away and is replaced with “ha ha, Red is socially inept” (which was the point of a lot of the older commercials with Red and Yellow).

    @Name (required): Yeah, schadenfreude is the fuel on which M&M’s ads run. To me, the offense level isn’t that different when you change genders. It’s less of a sexism thing and more of a “laugh at people having difficulty in social situations” thing. Which must be HELL on people with autism and other social disabilities. :(

    @monkey: I love Oikos, and it’s good to see an ad where men enjoy yogurt for a change*, but….damn, guys, what were you thinking?

    * Seriously, every damn yogurt commercial I’ve ever seen is either entirely devoid of male characters, or portrays male characters as not understanding that yogurt is a kind of food that people might actually enjoy eating.

  3. “I personally think the problem with the Stamos ad is that it apparently works from the assumption that an act of violence is amusing, and a way to get people interested in buying your product.”

    They don’t use logic to make people buy their products.

    To them it’s “make it memorable” and “make it associated with the product enough” so that the end result is “remember our product”. They don’t care if it makes you buy it. It makes you think their product exists – which is more than what other yogurt brands you never saw commercials about (or that had less impact on your memory) can say.

    It’s stupid though. Commercials only work on me if they are rational. Describe the product, don’t take me for a dumbass, and maybe I’ll consider your product at all.

  4. @pocketjacks
    I just meant the slapping, the tie pulling, and the outrageous invasion of personal space.

  5. @Zipped, that toyota one is sweet. “This is the reinvented couch” and you can see the guy light up, “it also comes in male” and then his body language says, “yeah… that’s sweet too!”

  6. @superglucose well according to it “objectified men AND women” so it goes in the bad pile


  7. jesus_marley says:

    This isn’t a Super Bowl ad, it’s one for Carlsberg beer but it is an interesting examination of some people’s prejudices…

  8. @jesus_marley: Oh wow. That one woman was about to sit down and her husband dragged her away. “Hurr, I need to protect you from the scary men who are sitting down in a theater! Because they have tattoos! And muscle shirts! And are obviously of above-average physical strength!!”

  9. I’ve only just discovered this site, but am finding it interesting reading and thank all of the contributors for their hard work.

    After reading this article and watching the ads, I think that the first isn’t necessarily that bad, I think that it’s horribly uncomfortable watching as is and would be similarly uncomfortable gender-flipped. So I suppose what I am saying is that it’s horribly uncomfortable for the underlying theme rather than in any particularly sexist way perhaps (ie. it appears bad to me, just not in the way you believe it to be bad)?

  10. But you watched right through all these commercials, right?

  11. The yogurt commercial is seen as funny because (in my experience) a lot of people identify with their gender in the same way you might identify with a sports team or with your country during war, and so when your team scores by attacking or hitting the other side (verbally or physically), you feel elation and aren’t really concerned with the feelings of the other side at a time like that. I believe (though I’m too young to have lived through it so I could be wrong) that men would also get a warm fuzzy feeling from putting women down physically and verbally before feminism made that really unpopular (which is part of the reason why some blatant misogynistic sexism exists). I wouldn’t be surprised if that ad could have been regendered 50 years ago without a problem (to the degree that that kind of content would have been acceptable regardless of gender).

  12. Also, men aren’t socialized to fear domestic violence from women in American society (unlike the reverse), so a typical man seeing the yogurt commercial won’t feel like it touched a sensitive spot. I doubt that many men would enjoy it or find it very funny, but they wouldn’t have the kind of emotional reaction that women would have if the gender were reversed.

  13. Ed Sparrow says:

    Actually, having a falcon would be kinda badass.

  14. Man now *I* want a falcon.

    @Zipped, for some reason I find it hard to be upset when both genders are objectified.

    @JM: I smiled when they gave the couples free beer. That felt really cool… like “congrats you overcame your stereotypical fears! I’m really proud of you here’s a beer!”

    @Adam, it was pretty funny up until she headbutted him. I don’t “fear” domestic violence but I did watch my step mom threaten my dad with a knife. So you know, wooo! Triggered!

    (Man FUCK advertising.)

  15. @Zipped I loved that Toyota commercial. For one, they actually had a couch made out of men, and two, the guy’s expression wasn’t complete disgust, it was more of an “okay, cool!” expression. A lot of men in media have this aversion to stuff that’s even slightly homoerotic. So, to see a guy that didn’t scowl at a group of shirtless men was refreshing. I hope other advertisers take a cue from Toyota on that one.

    Not sure why Feministe wouldn’t like that commercial, though. I’m with superglucose on that one. It’s hard for me to be offended by something when both genders are objectified. But I’ve always been that way about things- either objectify both genders or neither at all.

  16. the thing that urk’s me with the yogurt commercial isn’t the violence at all actually, it’s the way the dude is devilishly smiling while eating all the yogurt himself and teasing (whom i assume is his partner) with it.

    Give’s me that whole Schrodinger rapist vibe I get where I remember that everything with an x chromosome looking at me thinks I’m that guy <_<.

  17. jesus_marley says:

    @zipped – While the guy was indeed being an ass by teasing his partner, the reaction he received was completely unjustified. Further to this if you watch to the very end, the guy after being knocked to the floor then approaches her in a very supplicative manner to which she first lures him with a “reward” and threatens further violence by lunging at him. Completely unacceptable.

  18. Zipped: there’s no reason for her to hit him like that. Period.

  19. Adam: whether or not men “fear” domestic violence isn’t the issue. It’s just plain wrong to have that out.

  20. @Zipped, meh. Teasing happens in relationship. It happens often amongst friends. There’s an entire fetish out there about teasing. I can’t be super upset by teasing because it’s something I enjoy doing and enjoy having done to me.

    I can be upset by the violence though.

  21. monkey: I’m just pointing out what I see as the reason that a commercial like that can be aired with little complaint, whereas the same commercial with the genders reversed would have 99% of the US up in arms. I strongly dislike the commercial too.

  22. “monkey: I’m just pointing out what I see as the reason that a commercial like that can be aired with little complaint, whereas the same commercial with the genders reversed would have 99% of the US up in arms. I strongly dislike the commercial too.”

    The reason is no one cares about male victims. At least not the people who have enough political weight to do something about it. Thus they are acceptable targets.

    Trans people are the same, too. Not enough people speaking on their behalf, which makes discrimination based on gender identity and expression, wether overt or covert, “acceptable” to Joe or Jane Average. Especially Joe or Jane Capitalist Average, who prefers to see the right of companies/landlords/etc to hire/rent to who they prefer (because the business/house/apartment is theirs).

  23. @superglucose @monkey @jesus_marley

    oh, that one didn’t make the list either so I didn’t know if the general feminist population took issue with it. And seeing as how i’ve never been in a relationship past an LDR that lasted almost exactly 2 months, I have no idea what goes on in a normal one, except that feminists often speak of emotional abuse and teasing in the negative.

    Not that im endorsing that site at all mind you, it’s pretty much a hate read for me and I’m not a feminist anyway, but it’s a good news outlet for stuff that other media doesn’t cover, kinda like

  24. Rhinecat Cowboy says:

    The “Lin” to “Linwood” change is almost certainly because “Lin” can be a woman’s first name, not a racial change. It’s not a common name/spelling, which is probably why it goes to the extremely uncommon “Linwood” instead of “Len” or something. Weirdly, I know people with each of these first names.

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