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MEN, STAND UP AND TAKE IT : Rights Group Gets No Sympathy for Complaints About Ads

March 22, 1987|RANDY LEWIS

Wimps and whiners.

That's my gut reaction to a recent story in this paper that Sacramento-based Men's Rights Inc. has castigated several large companies because their advertisements project images that allegedly degrade men.

Balderdash. One of the group's "Worst Ad" awards went to those TV commercials for Life Savers candy in which the woman strings a guy along with the promise of sharing her Life Savers, only to abandon him mercilessly at the end of the 30-second spot and hog the whole roll to herself. So what? Let her get the cavities.

Frankly, the only thing degrading about this ad is that the poor jerk just stands there looking hurt. You know that's not how Jimmy Cagney would have handled the same situation if the ad had been shot in the '30s and there was a fresh grapefruit within reach. The guy deserves to be subpoenaed for questioning by California's new task force on self-esteem.

"We're just trying to say (to advertisers): There are more male consumers than you think and we'd prefer not to be insulted," said Fredric Hayward, 40, the Sacramento men's rights activist who invented the Best and Worst of Advertising Awards.

C'mon, Fred. Get tough. Men have had thousands of years experience as dominating boors. You don't think that's going to change overnight, do you?

Hayward was quoted as saying that "advertisers are trying to appeal to female consumers by saying, 'We're on your side. We think men are jerks, too.' " Actually, we should be grateful for the truth in advertising. Men can dish it out, but they can't take it, is that it, Fred? Are you suggesting that when the going gets tough, the men go shopping?

On the other side of the coin, Hayward's group commended a baby shampoo ad for showing a hapless father who was wracked with guilt after purchasing the competitor's brand, which stings the little tyke's eyes.

This, Men's Rights Inc. proclaimed, demonstrated that "dads can indeed take responsibility for choosing a baby shampoo and even washing the baby's hair."

Hmph. You think Oliver North's father lost any sleep over slopping a little soap in baby Ollie's eyes once in a while? Not a chance. In fact, it probably helped North develop the kind of unflappability he's shown during congressional hearings over the Iran- contra scandal. His dad probably said, "It hurts now, but one day you'll thank me for this training."

Men's Rights Inc. gave its Worst in News award to an NBC news reporter who tacked onto a casualty report the phrase "including women and children," arguing that this implies that the lives of the men who died were less important.

Naturally. Men have long been society's most expendable element, and why not? Men start the wars, are glorified for playing the most aggressive sports and are chiefly responsible for "Wheel of Fortune," so why shouldn't they be the first to go?

Magnavox received the Worst Physical Cruelty Award for an ad showing a man being punched in the face to illustrate the concept of impact. You want to talk about putting a value on life? Consider the millions of dollars Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard will rake in next month for doing the same thing.

But Fred complained. "In what context could you show a woman being punched in the jaw in an ad?" Hayward asked. If I had my way, we'd have seen it in that Life Savers commercial.

If groups like Hayward's keep up this squawking, we'll end up with an entire population of oh-so-sensitive Alan Aldas and Phil Donahues. Then who will be left to rail against? Doesn't Fred know that the new hero of millions of American men is Sam Kinison, the primal-screamer comic who advises men to show more consideration for wives and girlfriends because it "will create the illusion that you care"?

Fortunately, as long as there's room for a "Death Valley Days" President in the White House, there will always be a place in society for real men, tough palookas like John Rambo and Dirty Harry Callahan.

But don't feel bad, Fred. Try to take it like a man.

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