ESPN2's Friday Night Fights is now sponsored by Tecate beer, and so, unsurprisingly, they've been running Tecate commercials. But there are at least two things I find interesting about them. First is the fact that the commercials are all in Spanish -- no subtitles, no nothing. I keep waiting for Mark Krikorian to pitch a fit, but so far, no dice.
Second, though, and the subject of this post, is how the commercials handle the trope of masculinity. In general, I'm interested in efforts at reconstructing dominant social paradigms (masculinity, Whiteness, etc.) in ways that are compatible with egalitarian and equitable norms. And I think in many ways the Tecate ads step dramatically in that direction.
Like many beer commercials, the ad campaign here was specifically designed to appeal to a norm of manliness. Yet by and large, it doesn't indulge in the usual beer commercial stereotypes of what a "real man" is (crude, sloppy, disrespectful to women, etc.). Instead, it seeks to evoke tropes of self-respect and dignity for the many Mexican men who have come to America for a better life. Consider this example:
The first person is a sweltering farm worker laboring in the hot sun. The second is a big, tough, tattooed guy who lights up when he sees his mom. And the third is a soup chef who ignores the burn as he moves a pot of boiling liquid from point A to point B. So, as far as Tecate is considered, real men work hard, love their mom, and play through the pain. That's not the worst set of ideals I can imagine.
Is it true that the commercial renders Mexican women supporting characters? Yes. But I'm not 100% convinced I'm against targeted marketing so long as the marketing doesn't reinforce hierarchy or negative stereotypes. Promulgating a positive vision of masculinity requires, at some level, a focus on men and manliness. It's a trade I'm willing to make.
(Semi-inspired by this post by Daisy).