Where have all the men gone? Suresh Mohankumar, JWT Planning, Chennai
Simple, they have turned into cars; if we were to believe Maruti that is!!
But men have been missing from advertising and sitcoms for a very, very long time now. With the lenses being focused elsewhere, the media has been full of stories of the ‘new woman’. It has been so for quite some time now. Some call her the ‘post modern woman’. She is highly qualified and her economic independence has set in motion social tremors that are bound to have far reaching implications.
She is the new super hero or should we say the super heroine. Most heroes through out the history of popular fiction have had sidekicks. Batman has Robin, Sherlock Holmes has Dr. Watson, Bugs Bunny has the hunter, and even Anil Kapoor has Jackie Shroff. So it should come as no surprise that she too has a sidekick. Thirty minutes of TV gazing will tell you exactly who this sidekick is. But unlike the sidekicks mentioned earlier this one is an absolute no-hoper.
Meet Mr. Buddhu. He is out there putting on his act to help sell cornflakes, cars, financial services products, cooking oil, credit cards, tea and pretty much everything else. More often than not, he also happens to be the significant “other” in our super heroine’s life.
There are certain traits that clearly mark him out
- He displays symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. He simply cannot remember anything especially when it comes to dates. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, or even the date for paying the LIC premium; in fact you can safely depend on him to forget any significant date
- He cannot take a decision. Not to save his life. He needs to be pushed and prodded into it. He can’t even decide when and how to propose to his girl
- It is beyond him to resist temptations of any kind. Even when they come in the form of samosas and jalebis.
- He is absolutely and completely insensitive. He would much rather hear cricket commentary than listen to his wife talk during their anniversary dinner
- He is such a complete dud that he can’t even make out that his house is being cleaned out by goons even when he walks right past them as they carry the loot down the stairs.
- He is so way gone that he completely misses it when some really awesome looking women hit on him
- Taking his mind off something is child’s play. Just get him to drive around a little bit and he will even forget that ten out of hundred is really bad even if its in maths
- His interest in cricket does not mean that he knows how to get scores on his mobile; he needs his son’s help for this.
- It is not just advertising that has been running down men so meticulously. A quick check of the major sitcoms is ample proof that this breed is alive and kicking there. Two and a half men, Everybody loves Raymond, Fraser, The Office, Becker, According to Jim- the list is endless and the attributes quite clear
- Men have an exaggerated opinion of their self worth
- They can’t think of anything other than sex
- They are sloppy
- They chase trouble or rather trouble chases them and gets them all the time
- They cannot express themselves emotionally
- They cannot take a complement or give one well enough
- They are pathetic role models to their kids
The less said on the state of male characters in Hindi Television serials the better.
They are either, puppets moved along by the heroine/ the vamp or completely devoid of morals.
The classic time tested method of story telling, that has been practiced by authors since the time of Ramayana, follows a simple logic the goodness of one’s character gets amplified when it is juxtaposed against the evil of the other. The absolute smartness of the woman therefore has to be juxtaposed with the dudness of the man.
Or should it be? Do agencies and marketers need the help of a caricature ‘him’ to appeal to the woman? Do women really feel more perfect and fulfilled when they are communicated to in such a manner? Isn’t it time to break this stereotype? Isn’t it time that the real men stood up?
Why don't you tell us why you think this is happening in Indian advertising?