Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stupid Dad Can't Wait For Dumbo!

There is nothing that brings the family unit together like weddings, funerals, and family vacations. In this commercial, Stupid Dad cannot wait to experience the thrill of theme park rides (ironically enough, Flying Dumbo). He is so excited, that he cannot even wait for his wife to pull up the Mobile Magic app on Verizon. It's still unclear as to what the Mobile Magic app/service/page provides? Maybe it tracks Minnie Mouse or provides estimated wait time for lines at select attractions. Who the hell cares, Dad needs to be the FIRST on the rides! Why? Because Stupid Dad is selfish, immature, and impatient. Even his daughter asks, "Where's Dad going?"

Traditionally Dads are the ones that know best when it comes to matters of direction. I think back to the countless family trips my family took (before the days of GPS). My dad drove 90% of the way, especially through mountain chains, major cities, and at night. This was not an easy task-either my sister or I would be kicking his seat, my Mom would be bitching about how fast he was going, that he didn't use his turn signal, how close he was to the 18-wheeler next to us, and that it has been 53 minutes since we last stopped to use the bathroom. Dad always came through! That detour in downtown Atlanta off 75 South-no problem. Finding a fairly affordable hotel (that did not charge by the hour) in the hills of Virgina at 1am-he's on it! Dads just seem to have the natural ability to always know where to go. They can read maps easily, though rarely need to reference them, and always seem to take pride in saying, "We're almost there, kids!' He got us there-Dad.

I understand that gender roles within the "modern" family unit have shifted a bit. It's not uncommon to have a Dad that cooks dinner every night or does his own laundry. Mothers can kick a soccer ball outside with the kids and it doesn't seem weird. Did Verizon Wireless feel the need to deliberately showcase a Dad that has gone astray? The Mom, resourceful enough to use the Magic Mobile application, acts as the modern day Magellan. Clearly, Verizon portrayed the Dad as being childish, selfish, and independent. The kids are the ones that calmly stayed with Mom, as Dad ran off to ride Dumbo, alone. Stupid Dad, can't you wait for your family?

Thanks Verizon Wireless. Thanks for trying to "level the family vacation playing field" by making Mom the "smart, organized, and resourceful one". Thanks for showing a Dad that acts like he's 5 and the reaction of his family as they roll their disappointed eyes at him. (sigh) Oh, Dad.


  1. Yay! I love your new blog!!

    My dad was always good with directions too... he always mastered the "look at a map once and never need to look again" thing, as well as the nighttime/mountain/needhotelNOW navigation on all our roadtrips.

    And yeah, thanks Verizon, for reminding us of our role as the constant caretaker. Can you even IMAGINE an ad where mom runs around and acts like a child? If there were, can you even imagine there NOT being a straitjacket at the end of that ad? "OMG why is mom dangerously deranged, call social services."

    Even as the gender roles are catching up to equal-ish, mom is still the safety net and clean-upper of all messes, and if she can't/isn't, the fabric of the american family breaks. I imagine there's still sort of this idea that dad works hard at the office and gets to cut loose once in a while?

    Verizon and the American patriarchy is super harsh on mom-escapism. Dad gets to run away from the screaming kids, play golf, go out with his friends ... if mom runs away for more than the occasional token "girls' night out," it's like ... why doesn't she care about her kids ... geez.

    I guess this long winded comment could have been summed up by two exhibits:
    A: Family Guy
    B: The Simpsons

    Except, unlike the stupidman ads, these are considered satire...

    Thanks for your comments on my blog!! I didn't think anybody at all was reading it anymore... I post too rarely to make it worth following but you've inspired me to get back into it a little more.. :) I added an email subscription button at the bottom of the page, if you still want to follow it.

    Keep posting stupidman ads! This blog rocks!

  2. I think an aspiring Madison Ave-type might look at the existing media landscape and make a complete killing by turning the gender roles currently portrayed on their head.

    Take the classic husband/wife debate, going over which product is better with the women always schooling the husband. All an advertiser has to do is reverse the roles and perhaps have the husband condescendingly pat the dim wife on the head after she lost the argument. Even better yet, have the male one-up the woman in an area women are already stereotyped as weak: math, directions, brawn. Can you imagine perhaps a financial planning commercial where the husband patiently explains the math errors his wife made?

    On one level these suggestions are a just crass, sure. But the point is the make these potential ludicrous ads not a message about the sexes but a pointed critique of the very slanted media world of dumb men for dumb laughs. If approached this way, that would make for advertising gold cause cause the ads these days are tiresome and need to be taken a good whack at.

    The principle that advertisers are relying now is called "Comic Inversion." This is a very old drama recipe in which the servants are clever, and the underdog has his day. Think the old movie "Trading Places." So men are considered fair game for ridicule for the very fact they are seen as on top. But because the existing media template is so stale, and that the recession has disproportionately hurt men, is why I say the time is ripe for change.

  3. So many advertisers have been using Stupid Man commercials for so long that I can't remember a time when men were portrayed otherwise.

    Part of the problem is that is politically incorrect to make fun of anyone other than an adult male. Specifically white males. Although advertisers are now portraying black males as the Stupid Man in a relatively small number of commercials. A bald slightly over weight white male will always be presented as an absolute idiot.

    Commercials need humor, and a white male is the only safe target for a joke. Advertisers have few, if any, politically correct options when a character in a commercial is to be the target of a joke.

    As a white male the Stupid Man advertising concept only bothers me for two reasons. It has become SO predictable and boring. Also, some young children subjected to the never ending barrage of Stupid Man commercials may begin to lose respect for their fathers.

  4. Stupid Man commercials reflect unfortunately what is actually there psychologically and sociologically in most of human beings' minds not exactly stereotypes...The problem is that those commercials just perpetuate those conditions