Monday, November 5, 2007

Gender and Sexuality Through the Lens of American Baseball Advertising...and Dane Cook.

America’s favorite pastime is baseball. And during this year's playoffs, I learned a few things from it. For example, did you know a woman’s favorite pastime is bitching at her husband? And that all husbands are just total idiots? It’s true—just look at the latest bout of Fidelity Investments commercials that ran during the WS07.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t have more of these commercials posted, but I know them pretty well, so here’s a summary smattering:

-The one with the husband who can’t wait to go scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef, dude, but his wife is such a joy-kill and makes it clear—they’re going to Paris, godammit, and who told this guy he could make decisions?

-The one with the token black couple who bicker for 30 seconds about how neither of them knows what’s going on with their investments, but who the hell cares and whose turn is it to feed the dog, anyway? (For the record, I found this video in a Google/YouTube cache with comments about its racism, but the clip had been removed.)

-The one with the husband who meekly explains to us his investments and how they work (apparently THIS old white guy was paying attention, right Fidelity? High five, my WASPy brothas!) while his wife interrupts several times in acidic tones: “I don’t care.”

It’s not as if Fidelity has discovered some new approach to marketing—namely the approach of Choosy Moms Choose Jif and do all the laundry with only the help of their imaginary friend, Mr. Clean, while Lazy Husbands Drink Bud and vegetate in front of the television while visions of bikinis dance in their heads.

And yeah, sometimes America succeeds in exaggerating the shtick and poking its consumer-driven finger at itself while laughing with the belly of, say, Captain Morgan-infused frat dudes who heist the Sororitastics at a Halloween party in their gender-specific, sex-joke-laden costumes. (Personal favorite: the bunny and the carrot!)

But sadly for us, or maybe even more sadly for the legal folks over at Fidelity, their Bickering Couples ads fall short on the side of satire while crossing the unyielding line of political correctness. And after 30 seconds of gender stereotypes bordering on sexism and racism, we’re left wondering what the marketing division at Fidelity was thinking. Of course, this campaign is coming from the company that has not yet divested out of Sudan, so misogyny begets bigotry, I guess.

As a Colorado Rockies fan’s girlfriend, I can tell you that World Series 2007 could have only been worse if Fidelity had had as many ad plugs as Frank TV. I’m still emotionally reeling from Dane Cook yelling at me during every half inning, so another dose of Fidelity pegging me as a soon-to-be wrinkled-and-nagging wife could have only dragged my self-confidence down farther.

Thank God there’s only one October.

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