I like Adam Carolla because I have low self-esteem.
That came out wrong.
I relate to Adam Carolla because I see myself in him: white-trash childhood, two kids via in vitro fertilization, slinging jokes to cover insecurities… you know, shared traits.
I like Adam Carolla because he’s hilarious, and fearless. He’s not afraid to take a shot at a TV network, even if he happens to have a show on that very network at the moment. And it’s not cheap shots he takes; a former boxing instructor, Adam throws targeted punches.
In 2010, he released the book In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks. It was an examination-through-humor about the decline of masculinity. Which, for the record, isn’t macho culture; Adam wasn’t decrying of the loss of Neanderthal ways, and he didn’t champion anything idiotic like “men’s rights” groups do. Adam simply performed an examination of how the feminine side of men was dominating societal trends, and speculated on where that would take us.
Lately, he’s acknowledged that it didn’t take fifty years; we’re already there. Men aren’t just “in touch” with their emotions, men of a certain age—Millennials—are now more feminine than masculine. Using television commercials as a societal bellwether, Adam uses his daily podcast to examine where we stand, and where we are isn’t good.
I agree, because I have very clear memories of the movie Braveheart.
When Braveheart was being promoted, Paramount Pictures was brilliant in their marketing. During the day—when soaps and game shows reign supreme on television—I saw ad after ad offering romance. A renegade. A princess. Lovers. The music invoked emotions, and the visuals made you swoon. It was everything someone watching daytime TV—which in the 1990s was generally women—would respond to.
At night, the advertising was decidedly different. Flipping on the NBA playoffs, you’d see war between the moments of athletic glory. Commercials for Braveheart during NBA games were full of fire, fury, and blood and guts. The after-dark thirty-second spots were designed to ramp up testosterone levels, because this was going to be an action film.
Two different audiences, two different marketing techniques, one film.
It was smart; Paramount was playing to quadrants. Get the women interested in the romance, get the men interested in the action, and bam: perfect date night movie.
Cut to 2016.
Over the course of the NFL season, Toyota released an ad for one of their trucks. It was a weepy spot; something meant to touch the heart. A soldier is returning home from war, her family spells out a greeting in a field using Christmas lights, the soldier looks down from her seat on a plane, sees the “Welcome Home,” she cries, her mom cries, everyone cries… and for some reason, we viewers are supposed to buy a truck.
Adam Carolla lambasted the ad for being silly, and lamented the fact that tugging heartstrings is what society wants. In order to buy a product, we want to feel good about that product. Nothing is being sold on merit or quality, it’s being sold to our emotions. Carolla also—if memory serves—wasn’t too fond of the fact such an ad was being shown during football.
I agree with the first assessment; the idea a quality product can’t just stand on its own is silly. But the second point is where it gets complicated in my wee noggin; I’m conflicted by seeing touchy-feely ads during a football game. On one hand, upon meeting the woman who became my wife, I immediately set out to convert her from an NFL novice to a Green Bay Packers fan. I succeeded, too, because the NFL has spent a ton of money marketing their business to women. The NFL doesn’t care about male or female, white, black, Latino, straight or gay. They just care about viewers, and dollars. Which is fine; I get that, and am happy more people in general are interested in football today than twenty years ago.
On the other hand, back in the day ads that targeted the heart would have been shown in a different time slot, one geared to a program more feminine than football. Which means I wouldn’t have ever injured my eyes rolling at it, because I’m not interested in ads that attempt (and fail) to tug at my heartstrings. I find them ridiculous.
Which makes me a hypocrite.
I get that it’s unfair to say “I don’t like feminine advertising during my football,” while at the same time expecting women to watch football. But I don’t know what to do about it, other than accept that that’s the way things are now.
It does make me wonder how Paramount would handle the marketing of Braveheart today. Would Paramount play both ads during the same broadcast? How would they cast the widest net possible in order the maximize profit? Would the advertising just target women? Gender lines are blurred these days, and as stated there are men who are far too in touch with their feelings. Hell, modern men have body image issues. Back in the day, we’d hit the gym and work out; now we invent the “Dad Bod” to feel better about our flab.
No, it’s not.
Look, I wish I could look like Brad Pitt, but I don’t. It is what it is. Like Elder Cunningham sings: Man Up.
Anyway, just when I thought all hope was lost, I was lucky enough to remember the best movie ever made, Lethal Weapon. Released in 1987, it contains the throwaway line, “The guys of the 80s aren’t tough; they are sensitive people. Show a little emotion to a woman and shit like that.”
So maybe worrying about the feminization of men has always been a thing, and at this point talking about it is just perpetuating nonsense. Or maybe 1987 was the beginning of the end, and we’ve finally reached masculinity’s nadir.
Either way, I’ll just continue listening to Adam Carolla, laughing as he documents the world we live in.