Dangling Manhoods: What's a guy to do?
At times, modern manhood leaves a little something to be desired. Yes, it’s nice not to have to kill everything we eat or be forced to construct the home you live in (which for my family would be a mis-measured mess not much bigger than a refrigerator box). Clearly, such necessities and traditions are in the past – and I’m good with that. Plus it’s also pretty cool that we can play children’s video games without being sneered at. And we are not expected to wear a stuffy suit and hat every time we go out in public. That must be progress, right? Still, I would argue that the general indignities offered to men in exchange for this suave new world prove the trade-offs are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Every single day men are dropped into unbelievably emasculating situations. Whether it’s arranging those Godforsaken “play-dates” on behalf of our socially-sequestered children or being lectured to by degree-heavy hall monitors every time your kid smacks another kid in the mouth at pre-school, the beat-down never stops. I didn’t do it – why the hell should I feel bad? Besides, the fact that the other kid is such a wuss he wet himself means my kid won that little mano e mano face off, right? Our cars can’t be fixed in backyards and our computers run themselves. And when they finally do break down a manly swat or a well-stocked tool belt means nothing. Instead we have to coax some nebbish, Joss Whedon fanboy to put his rice crackers and Red Bull aside long enough to come on over and fix it for the low, low price of $85 an hour. No, traditional manhood is not exactly in-demand these days so how does a company that sells power equipment reach the socially neutered male of today?
ECHO Power Tools feels my pain. In their new ad we see a guy in a doctor’s office, all decked out in the atypical open-backed medical gown as his physician comes into the room. The Doc then tells the poor dude to lean forward on the exam table (exposing his derriere) and informs him that his medical students – all four of them - will be observing. He doesn’t ask, he simply states. Well, our hero looks annoyed, and a little disturbed, but like the rest of us says nothing, resigned to his modern male fate. He speaks. “I put up with a lot, but one thing I won’t put up with is outdoor power equipment that always breaks down. So I use professional grade equipment from ECHO.” Here he is, hoo-haa on display, and our guy reaches down and lifts up a gas-powered weed whacker only to rev the gazits out of it. The screen immediately cuts to a bunch of tool-centric glamor shots showing ECHO’s various outdoor power offerings doing what they (apparently) do best. The voice over gives the details just as we finally cut back to our guy, still brandishing his last vestige of manhood – a pro-grade weed whacker – while intern number 2 (or is it 3?) digs away at his back door.
Talk about nailing (sorry) the passive-aggressive realities of life today. Men weren’t built for this sort of graciously, all-accepting, line-standing, patient to a fault sort of living that is considered the epitome of civilized existence. We like to fight, and argue, and grab whatever we want – especially out of some other guy’s hands if possible. I’m not saying such ways are great for everyone around us (see “women”) but it can’t have been all that bad either. Women used to like men. Now they can’t divorce us fast enough because they (rightly) ask themselves what in heck they need us for anyway. At the very least men used to provide some form of assumed physical protection for women. Now instead of fists and attitude we carry a cell phone, ready to whip it out at the first sign of trouble so we can squeal for professional help. I’d leave me too.
ECHO has another spot set at the airport which is even better than the doctor’s office one. The minute by minute indignities that take place near runways nationwide should be an affront to all humanity. It’s no wonder we’re in danger of lunatics blowing us up. We’re all rendered beltless, shoeless and weaponless just before being marched on-board a silver tube devoid of rights or dignity, quivering in fear of mid-air arrest if we dare to raise our voices above a whisper. In the ECHO ad the final image shown is hero guy sitting in his seat with a chainsaw in his lap. A reality like that would do a hell of a lot more for airline security than anything the TSA has ever done.
I’ve moaned about this before – lots before – but nothing changes. Are the modern pleasures we enjoy so addictive that we will continue to allow bars to card men long past the age of forty? (It’s the policy, sir!). I know, I know. “It’s for your own protection” and “Don’t you want the world to be a safer, more friendly kind of place?” I used to think so, but at some point you just have to take the seat belt off and experience life a little more open - a little more raw. Could you end up dead or hurt? Maybe, but you also might experience something that used to be a big deal. I’ve often heard it referred to as “freedom.” Try it – you might even learn to like it.