Watching cable is almost never a good idea, but watching G4 is especially ill-advised. In fact, Spike might be the only channel on television more likely than G4 to cause a feminist to angrily stomp around her own apartment in front of no one. So there I was, watching a little G4 the other day when I happened to catch a new Slim Jim ad. I haven’t seen a Slim Jim joint since they hired Macho Man Savage to cement what one assumes must have been their already large following in the wrestling fan community, and I had just learned of Savage’s demise (mainly because a lot of my Facebook friends are, unfortunately, the kinds of dorks who think it’s clever to publicly lament the death of a professional wrestler), so I was mildly interested in seeing whether they would be distributing a Macho Man Savage Memorial Stick for people to snap into. This is what I saw:
The ad opens with a heavy dude with a beard (which has somehow become the new ideal male form, according to men) sitting in the back of Slim Jim’s “manbulance” (that’s right) stocked with various meat sticks. He asks the two EMTs how he ended up in their care, and they inform him that he had “just a salad” for lunch, a fact that leaves him both befuddled and irate. The scene then cuts to Slim Jim’s new logo, a play on the caduceus, and an auditory and visual claim that Slim Jims are “made from stuff guys need.” Pretty well flabbergasted, I decided to go check out the Slim Jim YouTube offerings to see whether this ad was a stand-alone unit or part of a larger campaign aimed at winning the Worst Ad Campaign Concept of 2011 trophy. Here is the first ad I found:
Slim Jim ran this ad in advance of all the others to introduce the public to the idea that they would be rolling the manbulance out in the near future in an attempt to “save men from themselves,” the “selves” being indicated by a wedding set-up and the “saving” occurring when the manbulance crashes through the nuptial arch, thus rescuing a would-be groom from having to endure entering into the one social institution that most guarantees the continuation of his social, financial, and cultural supremacy. This introductory spot was followed up with several ads in which more fat and/or bearded medical authorities tacitly call men faggots for engaging in various activities that are tritely associated with femininity before throwing a meat stick at them. A few examples:
Note the kegerators in this uber-manly waiting room, attended not by a nurse, but a “murse.” Because gay chick shit begins with the letter N, whereas real men only begin words with M.
Alright, that’s enough.
You might be laboring under the delusion that Slim Jim consumption is at odds with a healthy lifestyle, but that’s because you’re a pussy. Women might be able to get by on various combinations of vegetables, protein, and grains, but guys need sodium nitrite and dog food grade meat, and Slim Jim is literally made of stuff guys need. Men have needs women just can’t understand. They need food, shelter, and companionship just like women do, but they have additional specialized requirements that derive from their unique evolutionary heritage. For example, because their ancestors traveled in packs to kill animals for food and to capture women to rape in order to further the species, men have an instinctive need to get together in groups to sexually harass women and to eat foods that allow them to spiritually connect with their forebears who feasted on meat straight off of the bone, foods such as buffalo wings. In prehistoric times, men also spent quite a bit of time playing tic-tac-toe with their companions in the dirt, which explains why modern men need to commune via online video games, poker nights, and fantasy football leagues. And, of course, we all know that, because male hormones have such a powerful influence on men’s behavior, men require regular doses of Coors Light and pornography to keep their innate desire to rape and kill everything they see in check.
But seriously. What exactly is Slim Jim trying to tell us about men, women, and what “guys need”? Women do yoga, ride scooters, eat salads, practice hygiene, and willingly display sentimentality, so men need to eat sticks made out of barely-USDA-approved beef, “mechanically separated chicken” (whatever the fuck that is), toxic chemicals, and “spices”? Or is it that men’s dream of redefining modern manhood as endless adolescence is threatened by the stubbornly enduring expectation that men will eventually move out of their parents’ houses, get jobs, and cut down their video game time? For which the only remedy is a stick made out of barely-USDA-approved beef, “mechanically separated chicken” (whatever the fuck that is), toxic chemicals, and “spices”?
The ad men (they must have been men) behind the Slim Jim manbulance campaign aren’t really breaking any new ground as much as they are simply taking notice of the ubiquitous — though somewhat inchoate — neo-masculine ideology cropping up everywhere one looks, from Man vs. Food to beard contests. In order to be a real man, one must be dirty, hairy, and stupid to the point of self-destructiveness. The poorer one’s decision making skills, the greater his masculinity, it seems.
Unhealthy is the new manly because women, in an attempt to adhere to the weight guidelines of the fuckability mandate, have become associated with just about all healthy decisions a human being can make (in addition, of course, to some of the most unhealthy), and no one wants to be associated with women. Hairiness is the new manly because women, in acquiescing to porn culture’s demands, are removing nearly every hair from their bodies that isn’t on the top of their heads. Irresponsible, lazy, and stupid are the new manly because women keep showing up in previously male-only corporate and academic environments, thus removing “breadwinner,” “scholar,” and “responsible adult” from the list of roles men can occupy while maintaining strict boundaries between the male and female social realms. Whatever women are doing, men have got to knock off in order to maintain gender difference, and as women begin to do just about everything, men are left with few roles other than hot dog eating champion and porn connoisseur. Men are literally going to kill themselves in order to uphold some form of difference on which to base male supremacist hierarchy, even if the difference becomes so bizarre and stupid as to threaten to logically — and possibly materially — subvert the hierarchy itself.
Male privilege is truly a sight to behold. Men can behave like gluttonous, lazy, petulant infants, wantonly using, abusing, and disregarding women who are demonstrably more competent and civilized than they are, and yet still retain control of all of the governments on Earth, own 99% of the world’s property, and require women to do two thirds of the work done in the world for a tenth of the total wages that work produces. No matter how ridiculous and barbaric men’s behavior becomes — even according to standards conceived of and enforced by men — they expect to continue to dominate the world and all of its social structures because they have been able to do since the dawn of time by simply changing the rules or resorting to violence when women breach the gender divide. No word yet on how they’ll continue to do so on a diet of Slim Jims and PBR, so maybe there’s hope.