Happy Father’s day

By Menzoid
 
Sunday is Father’s Day. You know … that day of the year in which we honour dear old dad. And hey, we all know how valued fathers are these days, eh? Just consider all those forward-thinking, intelligent fathers who serve as role models in numerous TV shows.
 
There’s Homer Simpson…and then there’s Peter Griffin.
 
You get the point. But while it’s been common practice in popular culture for decades to depict the male head of the household as being someone who is slightly less intelligent than your average rocket scientist, the man-as-complete-dumbass theme is now rampant in the advertising milieu too.
 
Indeed, to adapt that old Molson Canadian tag line: I am … an idiot. You read it right: I’m an incompetent goof. A pathetic primate who can barely function in our oh-so-complicated world.
 
At least that’s the message from several advertisers.
 
Want proof? Awhile back, The Menzoid took note of numerous radio and TV ads in which the script called for two characters: one a man and the other a woman. In every spot except one (an ad for FedEx), men were portrayed as complete imbeciles. Even if the script established the male character as a successful business owner, he still came across like the classic Phil Hartman character, Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer from Saturday Night Live. (The defrosted Neanderthal continually grunted that “flashing neon signs” and “fast-moving cars” would “frighten and confuse” him.)
 
And hey, in today’s advertising world, unfrozen cavemen abound.
 
In a Toyota radio ad, a male Toyota owner comes across as virtually brain damaged when he addresses a female Toyota customer-service clerk. He can’t remember (or doesn’t know) what needs to be serviced on his car. He doesn’t even know what he wants to drink. Thank goodness for the know-it-all service rep who tells him what needs to be done to remedy his engine (without even popping the hood, no less!) She also informs him he’s experiencing a craving for caffeine.
 
A CIBC radio ad establishes “Tom” as a successful businessman. Along comes a female customer who’s not in Tom’s line of business but, naturally, is an expert when it comes to Tom’s trade. She tells him to install a CIBC e-commerce solution in a tone reminiscent of a principal addressing a kindergarten student.
 
And the worst offender is Tim Hortons, which seems to have a bizarre fetish in terms of depicting men as being wimpy morons.
 
Of note, a few years ago, one man had had enough of the male-bashing. Peter Regan, a single parent in Calgary, filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) after he took exception to a Rona ad. The spot depicts a female Rona employee dealing with a female customer who laments that her husband never helps around the house. The clerk responds: “That’s OK. They [husbands] are all like that.”
 
The ASC eventually decided the commercial indeed contravened regulations and “disparaged men and/or married men” and asked Rona to remove or alter the ad.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’d never file a complaint to some Orwellian government or industry watchdog about something as trite as a TV commercial. But the Regan anecdote does show you how egregious the dumb male stereotype can be for some folks.
 
Even so, what is the unspoken strategy of having men constantly cast as dimwits? It cannot be random chance. In fact, it’s statistically impossible that in almost all ad scripts, the male is the one who is dazed and confused while the woman (or child) is portrayed as an oracle of wisdom.
 
My hunch: When it comes to getting slagged, men tend to take it, well, like a man. Aside from the aforementioned Rona complainer, men tend to be stoic and silent about such slights.
 
York University marketing professor Alan Middleton adds another noteworthy point: Since women in many households control the purse strings, ad agencies figure it’s not a prudent idea to upset the individual who is likely to make the purchase. Thus, if the script calls for a dolt, it’s a no-brainer the man will play the fool.
 
Indeed, as long as complainers such as Peter Regan remain the exception as opposed to the rule, expect men to be depicted as dumbbells in advertising for decades to come.
 
Nevertheless, to all those men who are diligent dads and inspirational role models; to all those men who love their wives and their children and who provide for them and would defend them with their dying breath – Happy Father’s Day.
 
Despite what the director of marketing at Tim Hortons would have you believe, the vast majority of fathers are not worthless morons.
 
Then again, what do I know?

A stunted stunt

By The Menzoid

Poor Nik Wallenda.

The highwire daredevil will face many hurdles when he crosses over the mighty Niagara Falls later today, going from New York State to the Province of Ontario.

There’s the sheer height of the gambit; there’s perilous rocks and currents below; there are even concerns that nesting birds of prey may decide to give Wallenda a peck or two as they protect their turf.

But who would’ve guessed that it is the Nanny State and all her useful idiots that would really give Wallenda fits?

You see, as Wallenda crosses the gorge, he will be forced to wear a safety harness.

Yep. The “dare” part has been removed from “daredevil.”

Nik doesn’t want to wear the harness and even feels it may impede his balance. Too bad: the safety freaks running the American Broadcasting Corporation are demanding a bubble-wrap highwire act.

Wait a second! The Menzoid knows what you’re saying. You’re asking, “How can this be? Surely this is not the same ABC that used to run that iconic introduction to its Wide World of Sports program back in the seventies?

Hey, no “participation awards” back then, my friends, because there really was some agony of defeat to go around in those days: the skier going for a tumble; the motorcyclist spinning out. Ouch! Pass the Advil and the Rub A535… talk about Truth or Consequences for the jockstrap set.

But ABC in 2012 seems to be more like the Children’s Television Network. We want thrills and chills; ABC is giving us “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”
Forgive the Menzoid for being a nitpicker, but a harness completely negates the stunt Mr. Wallenda wants to do later today. If he makes it across, he won’t be doing so in defiance of death. After all, should he slip, Wallenda will just dangle from the line and await a ride back to terra firma via helicopter.

Be still my beating heart…

That makes Nik Wallenda as much of a daredevil as the rube who visits the CN Tower and does the EdgeWalk. That’s where you can walk around the outside section of the tower’s observation deck. You’ll be high in the sky to be sure; but you won’t be at risk as you’re physically tethered to the tower. Oh, and you’ll have to fork over $175 plus HST.

How sad that the architects of our increasingly bubble-wrapped, peanut-free, helmet-clad society have turned their sights trained on the daredevil community. In fact, the nattering nabobs of nannyism at the Niagara Parks Commission almost didn’t give permission for Wallenda to do his highwire act in the first place, citing a 19th-century crackdown on stunts.

Indeed, Ontario’s idea of “risky behaviour” in Niagara today is confined to the rubes doubling down at the government-run blackjack table. That way, nobody gets physically hurt – and better yet, the taxman makes out like a bandit.

Indeed, this is what Janice Thomson of the Niagara Parks Commission had to say earlier this year: “Doing something for one day doesn’t seem like, to us, sustainable tourism. It’s not a good direction to be going in. It harkens back to those early days when Niagara Falls was a carnival-like atmosphere. We have come so far away from that.”

Good grief! Has Janice Thomson ever take a drive up Clifton Hill? Home to House of Frankenstein, Castle Dracula, and Ripley`s Believe it or Not Museum. Janice, that ain`t exactly Vienna on the Rhine. It`s a “carnival-like atmosphere” on steroids. And it`s more cheesy than a bucket of Bulgarian feta.

But beyond this, is it not somewhat disheartening that in our sissified culture the safety mavens have even turned their sights on daredevils? Then again, we are talking about a province that has a head honcho, Dalton McGuinty, who is referred to unaffectionately as “Premier Dad.” (Rumour has it that as a newborn, Dalton actually had to don a helmet prior to being breastfed.)

Ah, God Bless the Nanny State, which so diligently endeavours to keep us safe. And sound. And secure. And, well, bored out of our freakin’ minds.

The Menzoid wishes Nik Wallenda well; but unless he can somehow jettison his safety harness, what he shall be doing today in Niagara Falls isn’t a death-defying stunt. It’s the CN Tower EdgeWalk with some waterfalls in the background.

In the great hereafter, Evel Knievel is weeping…