From this lovely post about one of the odder trends from the Decade Aesthetics Forgot. I think this ad speaks volumes about weird images of masculinity. I mean, also it’s kind of hilarious, but bear with me.
The overwritten horniness of the copy absolutely blows my mind. Advertising companies get informed of trends and proceed to turn them into cartoons, so today we’ve got advertisements addressing this “crisis of masculinity” trend they’ve heard about by doing hyper-masculinized ads for ridiculous manbranded products. In the 70s, clearly, they’d been informed there was this Sexual Revolution thing going on, and therefore phrases like “the ultimate fashion climax” made sense now, instead of being stupid.
There’s also the presentation of the model, who as far as we can tell consists entirely of sunglasses and hair. For a guy selling a sexy, revealing outfit, he’s showing less actual skin area than a Carmelite nun. Though, to be fair, relatively few nuns have large beards. Some of the other jumpsuit ads in the linked post are more revealing, but the ad is still selling Mr. Sexy Jumpsuit here in a curiously contradictory way.
The presumed reader of the ad is, they could not make more explicit, a heterosexual man. The copy says that wearing this jumpsuit will result, more or less automatically, in women climbing all over you like a hairy jungle gym. But what we see in the ad is a guy who’s almost completely covered up. We can’t even see his eyes. There is no hint of vulnerability at any point. I’ve talked before about the urge to find a way of approaching or attracting women without becoming vulnerable. (Of course, I’ve also talked about how male vulnerability is a massively popular fantasy among women, but let’s not get too sidetracked.) What this ad is trying to sell, essentially, is a suit that makes you attractive without ever making you even slightly vulnerable.
The presentation of female sexuality in the copy is intriguing as well. It talks endlessly about how women will be unable to resist your hirsute charms in this contraption, but there’s this one amazingly telling sentence. “Designed with your desires in mind… she’ll eat you alive in it.” (Ellipsis in original.) Even in an ad that’s trying to be all about male desirability, they can’t quite make themselves believe it. They can’t violate the two rules of desire unless they somehow define female desire as a SUBSET of male desire. It’s okay for her to want you if that’s what YOU want. She is allowed to fulfill your fantasy of being wanted. Like all the best creepy implications, I’m pretty sure they don’t know they’re doing it.
Lastly, and fucking typically, there are TWO blatant penis-size references in here. “Fits so tight it shows all you’ve got” and “Are you man enough to fill it?” They are LITERALLY SAYING that if you don’t buy this fuck-ugly jumpsuit, you’ve got a little dick. You know, ads like this are why Mad Men is all about how everyone in advertising kind of wants to kill themselves.
Oh, and this almost feels redundant considering we’re talking about a fashion ad, but jumpsuits look fucking AWFUL on fat guys, so thanks for that too.