Are White Men the Dumbest People in the World? TV Advertisers Seem to Think So

I admit it; I am a TV addict. Being a writer is a lonely job. I write two blogs and I’m now marketing a book. My dog Ozzie and my TV sets keep me company. It’s mostly news show that I watch . . . or listen to . . . or just have on in the background to keep me company.
But I catch enough of junk TV to see a lot of commercials. Actually, commercials keep me up on what crap a lot of advertisers are foisting upon the American consumer. By the way, is there ever a day when Kohl’s is not having a huge sale?

TV commercial
Yoplait commercial in which the husband is clueless that his desserts are really Yoplait yogurt . . . duh!

Here’s what I’ve noticed about a certain technique advertisers employ in order to make certain segments of their target audience feel good about themselves. In humorous commercials at least 90 percent of the time, white men are dolts. Idiots. Morons.  At the top of the intelligence heap are black women. They are followed closely by Asian and white women. Then come Asian men, followed by black men and children of any ethnicity. Finally comes the lowly white guy.
Now these are not hard and fast rules. There is some limited upward and downward mobility between levels, but just a little. Forgive me for leaving out Latinos, but advertisers don’t identify them much in commercials and when they do, the families seem to be stuck just interacting within their own culture.
Let me demonstrate a few examples. There’s the former State Farm Insurance customer who calls his former agent and cries that he ran his car up a pole. She’s compassionate. He’s an idiot.
There’s the AT&T Internet customer whose whole family understands that their Web connection is wireless but he just can’t understand it, much to the disdain of his daughter.
How about the guy who walks into the kitchen, overhears his wife talking on the phone about the delicious dessert flavors of Yoplait yogurt, and starts looking for the desserts in the fridge? That is until she derisively asks him, “What are you doing?”
In commercials, there are mostly black doctors of either sex. There are no dumb Asian or black women. Black men are only dumb in comparison to others above them in the hierarchy.
After much contemplation I have figured out the why the world of humorous commercials is so ordered. There are two prongs to my theory. White guys have a disproportionate influence in society. And they are not all that sensitive to being at the bottom of the TV commercial pile. They can laugh at being made fun of.
But by making women, and particularly minorities, feel good in relation to the product being sold, the advertiser creates a humorous and positive association with its product or service.
The second aspect of this phenomenon is that men – particularly white men –– control “Madison Avenue,” as the ad business is often called. So white guys flatter minorities and women in order to dupe them into buying the stuff the advertisers and their ad agencies are hawking. So while everyone else gets to feel superior, white guys (predominantly) are manipulating them.

Personally, I find this phenomenon disturbing. Sexism is sexism. Racism is racism. Period. The John Gray book Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, did a lot to promote the “men do this, women do that” mentality that pervades so much of television, radio, and publishing. It leads to viewpoints that generalize sex-defined behavior and ignore the behaviors of sensitive men, coarse women, and everything in between.
As a white man, while I enjoy funny beer commercials I also resent being generalized as a sex crazed oaf (no matter how true it is of me personally) who makes consistently stupid choices.

I don’t give a damn what it sells.

 

Comments

  1. Ha, ha. So true. But I don’t watch TV, so I’m curious about how you came up with this hierarchy of idiocy. But I trust you, because I have seen enough commercials to feel that you’re right. But surely other white guys share your opinion–do they simply not control the purse strings?

  2. Agree and well stated. The dumb white guy is usually slightly overweight and middle aged with an attractive much smarter wife. The man is childlike who has no idea how to run a family or function in everyday situations. Tons and tons of these commercials out there (see http://www.dumbmen.com). Invest in a DVR and skip through the crap.

  3. Thanks Christopher. The other day I actually saw a commercial in which the smartest person was a normal white guy. I then had a “Wait a minute … ” moment. I questioned whether I perceived it right.

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