Sports, Dos Equis advertising and the modern American male

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is here. Time for a TV time-out from the Twins: I want to talk about beer ads -- and men.

For anyone who watches televised sports on a regular basis (or in my case, replace "regular" with "copious"), the viewing experience is ubiquitously meshed with the inundation of beer ads between stages of play.  For years, I've been tinkering with a way to chart how often the American male is depicted as a slovenly, sex-crazed, culture-less dumb-ass in these ads; some form of methodology to track the overt regularity with which brands like Miller paint the New Millennium Man as a stereotypical creature more closely resembling our Cro-Magnon ancestors instead of an evolved, and intelligent being.

But with their "Most Interesting Man in the World" (MIMW), the ad voices behind Dos Equis beer have spared me further rumination of how to construct such a study.  Why?  Because their oft-hilarious portrayal of Modern Man is so strongly dichotomic to the name portion of other beer ads that there's no further point in drawing out in any statistical form that we men also possess a side that is curious, adventurous, intellectual, and, yes, sensitive.

I employ the word "also" in the above sentence because I'm not going to pretend that we men don't in fact own a barbaric sensibility that spends a portion of the day thinking about sex.  But the constant beer-advertising portrayal of this side is maddening.  Men have other interests besides sex and sports, and while the "MIMW" may portray said interests in jest -- the humor takes nothing away from the refreshing message, even if the objective is to ultimately sell more beer.

It's no mistake that the "MIMW" bears a striking resemblance to Hemingway, the 20th Century embodiment for the strong, sensitive male.  And while the pitchman's adventures surely thrive upon the ridiculous, the viewer is nonetheless left with the notion that man is, at the bone, a being just as curious and concerned with testing one's limits of self-exploration as with getting laid.

It's true, that at the closure of these ads, the "MIMW" is seen sitting in a dark, romantic setting surrounded by a small harem of beautiful women.  And I truly wish this weren't this case, as (while the women are indeed striking) the message devolves toward the ethos that men are all about sex.  It's unfortunate that this is the closing image as, with any story (accepting, for the moment, the television ad medium as a "mini-story"), the final impression can oft be the most lasting one.  It would be more consistent with the message (albeit less-satisfying to the eye), to simply find the "MIMW" cooling down his restless spirit with a brew, and a book.

Yet, the pedestrian communication of that closing image is salvaged by the ad's brilliant tag line: "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.  Stay thirsty, my friends."

While the wealth of advertising employs time and/or space to stuff their product down our

throats, the luster of that first sentence is found in the message that -- with our money, our choices, our pursuits, and yes, with our beer -- we are not bound by a single option.  Our choices -- like the "MIMW"'s curiosity for life -- are limitless.

And the latter, final sentence serves as a reminder of what the "MIMW" embodies at the onset of the ad: "Stay thirsty."  Sure, the double-meaning therein wants us to buy that beer, but it also echo's the character's thirst for knowledge, for experience, for life.

Is this an over-analytical review of a beer ad?  For some, I trust it is. Have these ads ever created a burning desire for me to run out and buy a six-pack of Dos Equis?  No.  But for all who watch sports and the interconnected ads on a consistent basis, this modern model of a cultured man is more refreshing than anything that any beer producer can ever bottle.

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