Mark Sherman finds a 2nd Half Superbowl Commercial Sexist Against Boys (and Men)
Like many millions of people, I was pretty much glued to my television screen last night, watching the Super Bowl. And though the thing that everyone will remember about this particular game was what has already been called one of the greatest gaffes in sports history, the play call at the end of the game, which allowed the New England Patriots to beat the Seattle Seahawks, I will also remember at least one commercial.
Even people who are not interested in football watch the commercials. They have become increasingly expensive over the years, so that by last night a 30-second spot cost 4.5 million dollars. Obviously, this is because it is common knowledge that you will almost never have another broadcast with such a large viewership. Last year, the audience in the United States was 110 million, and there’s reason to believe there were even more viewers last night.
The companies buying this time will obviously spend a large amount of money to produce the most creative and clever ads they can, so it is truly disappointing when a company — in this case, T-Mobile – runs an ad with the very talented Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler, only to include in their commercial – seen by more than 100 million Americans – a blatantly sexist line.
The ad shows the two women going back and forth trying to one-up each other on all the places where they are able to get Wi-Fi, including Handler’s “subterranean petting zoo,” Silverman’s trophy room, Handler’s “figure skating basement,” and, near the end – at 0:18 – Silverman’s underground delivery room.
Silverman is handing the baby to the new mother, with the father standing nearby, and after saying to Handler, “Sounds great from my underground delivery room,” she says to the mother, “Sorry, it’s a boy.”
I was taking notes on the commercials about whatever gender implications they might have, and I had been very happy to see at least a couple of ads which focused favorably on fathers. This is progress, I thought. But then, in the second half, there was this one, and I reacted angrily. Actually, at first I thought maybe I had misheard the line, so I played it again.
There it was. I had heard it right.
“This is sexist, isn’t it?” I said to my wife. I was still a little incredulous.
“It is,” she said,
The ads focusing favorably on fathers is a great step in the right direction. But to have the line “Sorry, it’s a boy” in a commercial viewed by more than 100 million Americans is a step backward. As one person wrote in a comment to an article about it, “This commercial was disgusting. As far as I’m concerned they committed a hate crime against all men. I fired T-Mobile and switched carriers because this commercial offended me.”
And let’s face it, however much the Internet lit up with people upset about the ad – and it did — that would be a mere blip compared to what would have happened if the line had been “Sorry, it’s a girl.”
I am very involved with a group trying to encourage the President to establish a White House Council on Boys and Men to address issues like this, and ones even more important, such boys lagging well behind girls at all levels of schooling, committing suicide at far higher numbers, going to prison at a far higher rate, and on and on. There is a White House Council on Women and Girls, which the President established shortly after taking office in 2009, but thus far there has been no action to establish a parallel one for boys and men.
But commercials like this one show that the time has more than come. There is no excuse for nonchalantly putting boys down that way. As the father of three sons and the grandfather of four grandsons, I find it especially outrageous. But we should all be outraged.
Sorry, it’s a boy? I’m sorry that such a commercial would air, and on probably the most watched show on national television. And T-Mobile should be really sorry that this is the best they could come up with.