Man Step or Functionality? The Masculinity Divide

I'm guessing you've seen the now older Chevy Silverado's "Man Step" and the cruelty involved, especially toward a guy who has that much trouble on a ladder. Here it is in case you haven't:

Now here's something you may not have seen. Watch the first 35 seconds to see Howie react very differently to truck bed assistance:

The inconsistency from "Man Step" to "EZ Lift Tailgate" looks a lot like what I saw in the line-up of this year's Super Bowl commercials. Both contained a hodgepodge commentary on masculinity. As I wrote in the comments of Dove Men+Care and Fight Clubs,

You had Tim Tebow promoting life and Dante's Inferno taking life, David Letterman - in my opinion - reconciling with Jay Leno but doing so behind a macho facade of teasing, Men+Care body wash by Dove, men literally without pants and men figuratively "without pants" but who still got to have their manly Dodge Charger....

Are these spots and the ones above aimed at different men, or the two sides of all men? I don't appreciate Howie's bullying but his apparent ambivalence points to an increasingly acceptable hodgepodge. It could be just a marketing thing, or perhaps an indication of a growing masculinity divide.


Marcus Goodyear February 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM  

I'd be curious to see where the different commercials play. I can imagine the second one actually being a commercial for wives--who would like to imagine their men asking about how well the truck will server their sons.

Frankly, the "Man Step" slam although mean spirited, is much more effective.

Sam Van Eman February 12, 2010 at 11:30 PM  

To see where they play....

Something to look into, especially compared with, say, the ads from an 80s Super Bowl.

Laura February 13, 2010 at 11:07 PM  

Hey, Sam!

This is very interesting! I have never seen the second one, but Howie's bully-type attitude always kind of bothered me in the first. Truth is, I don't think that's a guy thing, is it? To belittle another guys manliness based on stuff? That's a stereotype, isn't it? I hope so.

The second one was way I'm just not that in to trucks. And who is that guy giving the "tour"? Why does he look like Lorne Michaels? It does feel like it has SNL skit potential. Way too rehearsed and put on.

But this isn't a critique of commercials, is it?

Of course, I love the Superbowl commercials...watched them more than the game. Did they speak to a divide in masculinity? Hmm. I tend to be a bit naive about such things. I kind of think when guys get together there is always a lot of posturing. But no one really takes that seriously, do they?

Very interesting post. I can't believe it myself, but this is my first time over here. Shame on me. I'm glad I came. It's a neat place :)

Sam Van Eman February 14, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

No shame on a first-time visit, Laura! I'm glad you found your way here. I always appreciate your ability to analyze, so come back any time.

SNL skit potential? I can see it.

I don't know if they take posturing seriously, but the range of postures in this year's ads struck me. Maybe it's always been there?

Anonymous,  February 15, 2010 at 9:03 PM  

What is it with the continual depiction of the men as self-centered immature idiots? At least those were the commercials I caught during superbowl. It's funny, but it gets redundant after a while. Is this how we see ourselves deep down inside?

Not me.

Sam Van Eman February 17, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

Idiot? No. Immature? Sometimes, sure. Self-centered? All the time.

Maybe this kind of ad works because we see enough of ourselves in the actors acting the way we do (even if we don't want to) and still getting something good out of it: beer, car, girl....

I wonder if it's like some cheap form of grace we're seeing there.

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