What Are We Selling Here?: Super Bowl Sunday, Masculinity, and Commercials That Make You Go, “What?”

Super Bowl Sunday is the most watched televised event in the United States, with over 111 million people tuning in each year. It’s considered a de facto national holiday and, after Thanksgiving, is the second largest day of food consumption. The Super Bowl gets people excited. The Super Bowl is good fun. But the Super Bowl is like any sporting event that depends primarily on advertising – it’s targeted at a male demographic. So what does this all exactly mean?

It means that the most televised event of the year is chock full of commercials that are often incredibly sexist. Such highlights from the past include Pepsi’s “Love Hurts“  racist ad that featured the angry black woman stereotype who ends up punching a white woman in the face after she mistakenly assumes her husband is checking out the white woman, instead of him checking out her Pepsi can. Then there’s Doritos’ “Boys Night“ ad, which presumably speaks for itself (if you dare to watch it ) and ends up as an example of the best of clusterfuck fantasy, including grinding asses in faces and women orgasmically howling over the three guys who just happened to open the Doritos bag to pussy heaven.

Now, this isn’t shocking. Of course the demographic is going after men – who else watches the Super Bowl? Well, 50% of women, but you know, whatever. Almost every commercial is skewed toward the hyper masculine, whether new trailers for the dudetastic movie John Carter or the neverending trope of masculinity as a car complex. Even H&M, a company that notoriously goes after female dollars, showcased David Beckham with a duder-than-thou appeal that could put a new spin on the male gaze.

Check out Bud Light’s appeal to men with a commercial that emphasizes the idea that “man’s work is never done,” treating a mysterious “they” as a force that somehow holds men back by way of crushing their souls.

However, let’s all be frank. is one of the Super Bowl’s largest offenders. For the longest time, I wasn’t even sure what GoDaddy actually did, only the fact that every commercial I saw looked like a low budget porn production cum 14-year-old boy’s idea of fantasy via his dad’s Playboy magazines.

GoDaddy, a site that actually sells domain names, is now notorious for creating mind-numblingly sexist commercials, painting women as sexy oo-la-la objects, forgoing the actual purpose of the company and relying on a cheap formula to sell their product. Hell, their ad actually references that they know that and moreover, that they don’t care.


Doritos seems to have outdone itself this year. With a hotter than hot scantily dressed woman fawning over her boyfriend as he chomps on Doritos watching the game and altogether ignoring her, the commercial ends up with said hot girl in bed with nothing but Doritos covering her, celebrating with a touchdown! In the end.

While fanning the needy girlfriend stereotype, with a dash of the ultimate heterosexual 14-year-old male fantasy, the commercial brought only this to mind:

Image copyright Kate Beaton. Hark! a Vagrant.

But really, can we talk about the Teleflora ad?

Here’s what this says. “Chicks, man” is not enough of an intellectual argument at this point in commercial juncture, Lima has to spell it out for the gentlemen across America: “Flowers get you pussy, BRO.”

Although, there is always a little ogling at a sexy lady whom you don’t even understand. Because Italians – they crazy! Except they aren’t ladies. They is a car!

Though, fear not, America! Apparently, not all was lost, because Clint Eastwood is bringing halftime to America? Dare I say I smell a little of the Occupy mixed in with someone’s Republican grandpa?

So what can I say? It’s another season of brainless commercials sent to tantalize the very rigorous and narrow boundaries of manhood. More thin, pretty, white women to titillate and sell cars or flower delivery, more cars to measure penises against, and more representations of strict gender roles that extend from one extreme binary to the other. It’s lazy and boring – it’s assuming that all men are simple brainless moving bodies, that men with a capital M are those with penises for their brains. Ladies are sexy objects to project upon, existing as prizes or billboards to tack any sort of message to, alternating between hot, hot, hot, and ew, gross, Madonna! She’s so old, get her off stage.

But out of all the Super Bowl messages, I think I agree with MIA here on what she was trying to broadcast to millions upon millions.

‘Cause, girl, don’t I know.

7 replies on “What Are We Selling Here?: Super Bowl Sunday, Masculinity, and Commercials That Make You Go, “What?””

The Beckham ad to me was probably the commercial I ended up thinking about most of the night. To me it registers as an attempt to connect with female viewers,  but also pitching this weird, ideal “masculine” type to male viewers (which is like way to turn the male gaze on its head), especially since it uses the same techniques that Victoria Secrets does (the weird spinning camera moving up and down the body, the silent but oldy look,etc.) .

I mean, the actual product in question was men’s underwear, so obviously they were going after the menz, I just can’t imagine they put that much eye candy on screen to advertise a store that usually goes after a female demographic and weren’t thinking about advertising to women as well as men.

And…David Beckham is gorgeous and I greatly enjoyed seeing that much of him.  I just can’t complain that much.

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