I must be the only person in America put off by the message sent by the DirectTV Sunday Ticket alter ego campaign. No one on the Internet appears to be calling out these ads. I thought it would be prime material for a Slate think piece. But, the best of my Google searching shows that everyone thinks its just fine for football players make fun of those who don’t match traditional stereotypes of masculinity.
Let’s make a list of the things DirectTV think its OK to make fun of:
- Skinny legs.
- High voices.
- Petite stature. (Even though this version of petite is really just “short.”)
- A talent for sculpture, paper mache and baking.
This campaign is an extension of the successful “alter ego” campaign that started ages ago with Rob Lowe’s memorable characters. The difference was Lowe’s alter egos were actually creepy. Super Creepy guys paid no attention to hygiene, lived in mom’s basement past the acceptable age, and leered at swimming women without their knowledge.
In all of the alter ego ads, a handsome, masculine, suave man announces he has DirectTV. Then an undesirable version of that man steps into the frame and announces he has cable. In each case, DirectTV man is prosocial while cable man is antisocial to communicate that DirectTV is cool while cable is not.
This particular campaign is designed to promote the NFL Sunday Ticket. So, targeting a male audience makes sense. Additionally, these men watching might subscribe to traditional masculine ideals – even if they couldn’t run a 40-yard-dash in less than a minute.
It seems the ads are getting a good reception:
The new Direct TV commercial with high voice Peyton Manning is so funny😂
— Aidan Anderson (@aidananderson18) September 20, 2015
Tony Romo / Crafty Tony Romo DirecTV commercial is legitimately funny.
— I RAP WELL (@BKnitts) September 27, 2015
And I’m petite Randy Moss 😢 these @DIRECTV commercials are hilarious 😂
— O-Dollaz (@OJC_7) September 28, 2015
But, there are plenty of women watching football, too. And, there are men who like a good a cappella performance just as much as a great touchdown dance. So, that’s why I can’t believe that no one has a problem with the message of these ads: That being short, skinny, a good singer, or arts and crafty makes you less of a man.
I get that some of you will think I’m reading too much into this or being oversensitive. I’m pretty sure this guy agrees with you:
Peyton Manning’s DirectTv commercial marginalizes the experiences of skinny legged people.
— Shane SonOfJohn (@ShaneSonOfJohn) September 27, 2015
“Screams like a girl” isn’t in any way ‘coded language’ in the way you might argue the rest of the ad is. Plainly, it’s an insult. Indeed, people are referencing the cable versions of the football players to insult or otherwise degrade actual football players who aren’t meeting expectations.
— Chris Markel (@cjmark810) September 28, 2015
Peyton Manning runs like skinny legs Peyton manning from the direct tv commercial
— Mr. HVAC (@FurtadoMarcel) September 27, 2015
The Romo ad is the one that drove me over the edge enough to motivate me to spend the time writing about my thoughts. Take the 30 seconds to watch it.
Seriously, what kind of monster would disparage someone for mixing brownies and cupcakes? That sounds like a dream come true.
Anyway, the other ads from the campaign are below.