It couldn't have been the sandwich. It was no more or less repulsive than what they'd ordered. And we weren't picking our nose.
So perhaps it was the paint chips and fabric swatches we were agonizing over for the living room of our new house.
Ouch. Busted. But should we have been embarrassed that they caught us doing something so unmanly? Should we have been indignant at being judged? Should we have felt the need to disabuse them of their supposition? Should we have confronted them as bigots?
Hard to say. All we're sure of is that a) we should have been examining the swatches somewhere without fluorescent lights, and b) the incident struck a nerve. As a lover of art, torch, literature, radicchio and interior decor, we are heterosexual essentially only on a technicality. All the sports, poker and cigars can't erase the pink walls and the Hoagy Carmichael. Yeah, we have three kids ... but fabric swatches, for crying out loud.
This is a tension that advertising seems to think runs deep. Camel Filters probably invented the defeminization positioning 40 years ago, and it has popped up periodically since. But lately we are awash in ads in which men, apparently modern and fully evolved, are confronted with their insufficient machismo. In one airing now, a guy is so ashamed of his sissified grocery order that he goes out on impulse and buys a Hummer. And from KesselsKramer, Amsterdam, comes the last word in the rebellion of repressed alpha male.
It opens with various guys coming to personal reckonings as they dress for the office, shop for veggies, iron and garden.
"I once wore armor."
"I would hunt animals with teeth as long as my arms."
"I would chase adventure to the four corners of the world."
"We carried spears."
"We would kill, or be killed."
"And all that mattered was survival." (This dude is at the hairdresser, having a shampoo.)
Maurading through forests
Then, able to stand it no more, the guys bolt from their feminized lives and take to the forests, the streams, the fields. There are dozens of them. Then hundreds. They catch fish with their bare hands, sniff their armpits, fell trees. They devolve before our very eyes, finally storming a pub ... to demand Bavaria Beer.
The antidote. Get it?
You can't help getting it. After 90 seconds and untold numbers of euros spent, yes, the message does come through. Regain your balls. Drink Bavaria. But this is far too much to say far too little. Never mind that it borrows heavily from the two top Cannes entries this year, the devolution from Guinness's "NoitulovE" and the converging throngs from Carlton Draught's "Big Ad."
The problem is the overstatement. The ad not only stopped being funny when they started rampaging, it ceased to resonate. Yes, we in the swatch-scrutinizing community are self-conscious and need to feel like Real Men. But not like cave men. These characters in the ad didn't need to flee to the wild. They just needed to chuck the gardening trowel, the iron and the shampoo smock to go grab a Bavaria beer.
Not an antidote after all. Just the pause that refreshes.
~ ~ ~
Review: 2 stars
Ad: Bavaria Beer