The trailer for An Emasculating Truth opens with the following…
“There’s always that fear that masculinity is in danger, that it’s being lost, men are becoming feminized in one way or another.”
“Men are definitely finding their feminine side”
“Their masculinity’s kind of questionable.”
“Maybe too superficial.”
“Settling for less.”
In fact, “kind of questionable” and “superficial” are great descriptions of the movie itself, where Concerned Male Citizen Oscar reports “Testosterone levels are down 17% in the past 14 years among American men. (Girl on street: “That’s crazy! I didn’t know that!”) I want to know why. Why did this happen…to us.”
Oh noes! Oh wait. Why does that statistic (handled pretty loosely considering how complicated hormones are), is enough to send someone on a stereotype-searching sabbatical is beyond me. But to Oscar, it’s enough to make a movie about the quest for Masculinity, which based on the preview, began to ebb away sometime after the invention of color photography. Let’s see, does this movie contain…
-Huge, sprawling generalizations about half the population? (Check.)
-Convenient soundbites from people who agree that masculinity is more precious than a shrinking ozone layer? (Check!)
-Blame for this catastrophe leveled on that other homogenized half of the population? (Check, courtesy of GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: “Women will succeed. They will eliminate men probably in a thousand years. There’ll be like, a few men and, and, like a lot of lesbians.”)
Thankfully, instead of becoming exasperated by what An Emasculating Truth entails (or what it probably won’t entail, such as gender and hormone use in athletics, voices of trans men, or why stupid media projects that seek to define masculinity are ACTUALLY the reason people have fucked up perceptions of gender), consider that’s it part of a brainless, misogynistic, (and if all goes according to plan, viral) marketing plan. As they point out on The Frisky, when you visit the official site of An Emasculating Truth you’ll see that (in itty-bitty letters at the bottom) that it’s presented by Dockers. You know, Dockers, who recently revealed their latest marketing plan, focused exclusively on male anxiety!
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So the folks at Dockers have really taken the expression “wears the pants” and go (fifty years back) with it. Oh, and I like how there is a link to their Women’s section after it. Wouldn’t sticking my ovaries in a pair of khakis go against the entire Man-ifesto?! Sociological Images had further commentary:
Of course, what is really interesting about this ad is the way that it defines manhood as in opposition to all kinds of things: womanhood, of course, but also boyhood, and feminine manhood, androgyny, and whatever disco, plastic forks, latte drinking, and salad represent. What do men get? Being in charge of women and children… and dirty hands (maybe the dirt is metaphorical).
In short, considering that the release of An Emasculating Truth was scheduled for the same time as the Wears the Pants campaign was revealed (November 2009), and that Dockers posted the trailer (sans commentary) to their Facebook page, and the fact that they both tackle the same imaginary issue with the same pathetic gusto is far too coincidental. It’s hard to say if Dockers has an entirely backseat role in this movie or if they will be featured in the movie too, like Oscar picking out which slacks to wear to the strip club, or rodeo, or bris he attends.
So while it’s heartening to know that someone’s not handing out grants to any assclown with a contrived idea for sexist documentary, and comforting that we’ll never see Oscar interviewing Hulk Hogan on the big screen, there is some insidious viral marketing going on here. Let’s hope there’s no additional movies, role-playing games, or ringtones about a Mythic Masculine Past waiting in wings from Dockers, and that consumers are savvy enough to see through the BS campaign that’s already out there.