Mr. Smartypants Blah, Blah, Blah, the Conclusion

All right.  So, what has Mr. Smartypants taught us?

1.  Different people have different frameworks for understanding reality.

2.  If you can understand those frameworks, you can

a.  Fuck with people using those frameworks

b.  Get people to do what you want by dismantling those frameworks and replacing them with ones more amenable to your goals.

3. Promising people something they want is a good motivating tool for getting them to do what we want them to do.

Now, let us turn to poor Rachel and try to understand the nonsense going on over there.

Let’s start with a premise we can all agree upon.  Miller Lite wants men to buy its beer. 

In order to encourage men to buy Miller Lite, Miller Lite has a campaign in place that utilizes a framework of “what it means to be a man” in order to link “being a man” with drinking Miller Lite.  If you look at the website, this is incredibly clear.

There are a bunch of “man laws” at the bottom that tell the reader the proper way to be a man.  But here’s the deal.  All of these laws are based on the assumption that manhood isn’t intrinsic.  If manhood were intrinsic, if you were a man, whatever you did would be stuff a man does, by virtue of the fact that you did it.

Instead, manhood is something external to people with penises and people with penises must act like men if they want to be considered real men.

Do you see how this works?  Before, we talked about how words, like “man” are a sign that points towards some idea of what a man is.  Now, what we’re saying is that there’s also some way in which we also expect individual men to point to some collective idea of what a man is if those individual men want to be considered men.

“Being a man” is not the state of having a penis, but of properly pointing towards our collective idea of what a man is.  Look at how Exador inherently knows this.  Sarcastro says, “That’s like the difference between wanting some soft and moist female companionship and wanting the dick out of your ass.” and Exador, in order to poke fun at Sarcastro says, “I’ve NEVER brought up your fraternity days. If you choose to, I support you.” In other words, Exador insinuates that Sarcastro has participated in behavior that doesn’t properly point to our collective ideas about what a man is.

It wouldn’t be funny if “manliness” were something inherent in a penised person.  If “manliness” were just inherent, Sarcastro could “cut a sexual swath that still astonishes by its sheer brazenness and multiplicity” and fuck whoever he could get his hands on in whatever iteration he could think of.  Exador could walk in on Sarcastro dressed in a French maid’s outfit bent over his coffee table while Kleinheider sticks kitchen utensils up his ass and it wouldn’t be unmanly.  It’d still be something a real man did, because Sarcastro is a man.

But no, despite Exador’s intentional obtuseness, he gets that there is a gap between being bepenised and being “a man.”

So, if being ” a man” is an idea that we have and not something that just is intrinsic to being bepenised, how do we know what a man is?  We don’t, as a culture, say “being a man is having a penis.”  So, if we can’t say what being a man is, we start to define a man by what he is not.  If you look at Miller Lite’s man laws, you can see this in action.

The basic theme behind all of the laws is don’t act like a girl.

So, now we get to the bullshit going on over at Rachel’s.

Rachel makes a perfectly legitimate point.  Beer makers use sex to sell their products–“Hot girls like this like men who drink our beer.  Therefore, if you drink our beer…”  Miller Lite is using sex roles to sell their product–“Manly men drink our beer.”  It’s not crazy to ask whether “You poke it; you own it” in this context doesn’t refer to everything that men poke.  Do men not stick their fingers in women anymore?  Did y’all decide that while I was away?

But here’s what’s bullshit and here’s what makes me so angry I almost don’t know how to express it.  Each person’s framework for understanding the world is his or her own.  There are great stretches of that framework which are similar to other people’s–that’s how we have community and agreement–but each is unique and his or hers.

I would argue that everyone could benefit from continually checking over his or her framework, to make sure that it’s still working, that it’s useful, that it’s strong enough to support one’s worldview, and that it matches up with other people’s in ways that are healthy and beneficial for folks.

Though, obviously, you can do what you want.

But what Rachel is doing in her post is checking over our collective framework, looking to see if it’s working and useful and healthy and beneficial.  And what she’s found is no some weak girder or rusted out bolts, but just a spot in a column that scratches her when she walks by.  So, she asks this question–How come, in order to move men from here (non-Miller Lite buying) to here (Miller Lite buying), we have to use this material that irritates me whenever I walk by?  Are other people also finding this irritating?  If so, let’s ask Miller Lite to stop using it.

But when Travis09 and Exador and Dr. Richard show up to comment, they don’t just say “Maybe the problem isn’t with the collective framework, but with how you move through it,” which would be a reasonable (though wrong*) response.  They say, “There’s something wrong with your internal framework.”–“You hate men”; “You can’t take a joke”; etc.

I guess it pisses me off because, on the one hand, y’all get to toy with collective reality when it suits you and is fun for you, but when it suits you, you also get to pretend that “this is just the way it is; just suck it up because it will never change” as if how you see the world is objective reality.

No.  It’s more than that.  It starts to feel like you think everything out there is your playground and, when it suits you, everything in here is your playground, regardless of whether that “in here” is actually in you.

Ha, I guess this is about the nerdiest complaint ever–your artifice leaves no room for mine.





*I get to pass judgement because it’s my blog.

8 thoughts on “Mr. Smartypants Blah, Blah, Blah, the Conclusion

  1. Well let’s look at the framework related to ‘own it’. Does ‘own’ mean that it’s a legal possesion of the person claiming ownership and the’owner’ has the right to use and dispose of it as they see fit? When referring to inanimate objects it is pretty much always assumed to be the case. But I think it’s safe to say that most people quit claiming ownership of other people at least a century ago.I think I would have to argue the idea that in the framework that is common to the majority of people in this country, the word own when applied to a person doesn’t not mean the person is claiming some sort of legal right over that person. It merely implies some type of relationship along the lines of my wife owns me so I can’t screw other women.That’s a very unfortunate interpretation that Rachel is making. If you are correct on this whole framework concept, then the writers and Miller should be judged based on their own framework, and not hers. I’d seriously doubt that the commercial was intended to imply ownership of women. If for no other reason, even if the commercial was for guys they certainly want women to drink Miller Lite too.

  2. So I guess I’d get in trouble if I said, "I wouldn’t touch this issue with a ten foot pole."Good thing I didn’t say it.CeeElCeep.s. Whether it should or not, advertising has never been subject to the collective standards of good taste or morality. The only valid measure within the industry is advertising effectiveness. If the uplifting and positive body image supporting Dove commercials hadn’t pushed more soap, they would have been scrapped at the focus group stage.

  3. "I think it’s safe to say that most people quit claiming ownership of other people at least a century ago."Except for this – You could make an argument that rape and sexual assault are a form of asserting ownership rights to a body, in that it takes away the victim’s bodily autonomy… However, I think and hope you are right about "most people," and your point about object-based legal ownership vs an intangible form of relationship-based ownership is well-taken. What I think this kind of double entendre does, though, is imply a kind of objectification of people through sex-based ownership. CeeElCee: I definitely get your point, with regards to "advertising has never been subject to the collective standards of good taste or morality." Except in the case of Surprise Parties, apparently – see this week’s Scene. Just acknowledging the lack of good taste in the Miller ad, but that is apparently a problem for some folks.

  4. I never said the industry shouldn’t be accountable. It just isn’t. It always gets sticky with first amendment issues and standards of (in)decency. Almost all advertising standards revolve around "truth in advertising," and that’s a sticky enough wicket.I won’t be an apologist for the industry. I really like it when a campaign like the Dove women or the anti-smoking spots actually win awards and get results.But for every one of those, there’s ten women wrestling in jello pudding.Ugh.

  5. I was pissed at how Rachel was treated in her blog. First, there was the holding her accountable for things she was not even talking about, as if she has to get everything right before she can speak – feminism as an ethical position again. Then, there was the claim that men are not on the internet complaining. ("You don’t see guys coming on the internet crying everytime a commercial portrays men as stupid and uninterested in important issues.") What does that get someone? Are we just not supposed to ever complain? I guess you address this well in your post: "I guess it pisses me off because, on the one hand, y’all get to toy with collective reality when it suits you and is fun for you, but when it suits you, you also get to pretend that "this is just the way it is; just suck it up because it will never change" as if how you see the world is objective reality." which leads me to my real point:I think you’re analogy is good for at least two reasons.1) Too many men take the Henny Youngman* approach to our pointing out our pains. And, when we come up with a better way to cure our pains – ones that expect men to take notice and make some minor changes (I really do believe that not only are they minor but that many of the changes will actually benefit men too, if they would just take these conversations seriously and see what they can get out of it. Just off the bat, we can see that men would no longer need to laugh at seeing themselves portrayed and idiots to sell them beer), they tell us that the suffering is all our faults or just inevitable and we’d better learn to tolerate it. But, none of them would continue to be scratched, and they would find some women to bandage their wounds (for anurse’s pay, not a doctor’s) in the meantime.2) I like that it invokes images of blood and pain sensations.*The patient says "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Then don’t do that!"(just in case you missed that reference)

  6. <I>I was pissed at how Rachel was treated in her blog. </I>Wouldn’t postmodernism say that your perception of the way Rachel was treated is different than other perceptions? That the way someone is treated cannot be regulated because there is no definitive standard for fair treatment?

  7. It’s true that a postmodern take on the situation would say that the Professor’s perception of the way Rachel was treated is different than others, but I don’t see why it has to follow that we then can’t regulate how we ought to treat people.There might not be any intrinsic standard for fair treatment, but we can still insist on a communal standard and try to compell folks to stick to it.

  8. Oh, I agree. I was just emphasising what I believe to be the failure of postmodernist thought. In presuming a lack of concrete standards, it excuses rudeness.

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