Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Times are Getting Tighter for Betas

The mere existence of Skeptic magazine is quite an amazing phenomenon, if you really think about it. We have put a man on the moon, and there still is a niche market for people to prove that there is no such things as supernatural powers. For whatever reason, people are prone to believe all kinds of nonsense.

Of course, none of us is free of cognitive biases and inconsistencies, but the absurdity of people's beliefs often seems limitless. With one important exception: People tend to be very rational and realistic whenever it really counts.

Richard Dawkins once mused that in an airplane 10.00 feet above ground anyone turns into a realist. And the same is true when (a lot of) money is involved. Which is why it might not come as a surprise that the first signs of a change away from feminism in the media are within advertisements.

Ads need to work. There is a lot of money that goes into this industry, and the pay off can be measured most directly. As a consequence, advertisements are to the psychological study of manipulation ("persuasion") what airplanes are to aerodynamics: Proof of concept.

And so it goes that the idea of the attractive "sensitive guy" dies a slow death in advertisements.

Once again biology prevails, as the sexual urges of women can no longer be denied. We can tell ourselves that "gender neutrality" is a great thing and that women really just want a man who "listens", "cares" and "understands" - a guy who "treats her like a princess". But when the money is on the table, the bets will naturally end up on the bad ass motherfucker winning the game. Ads need to speak to your instinct. And despite all societal brain wash intended to file down our rough, male, trouble making edges, our guts still know that the nice guy always sleeps alone.

Take the Mac guy, for example.This emblem of what is supposed to be cool among contemporary thirty-ish urbanites is a picture book case of what is wrong with guys today: Poor posture, droopy eyes and a lack of muscle that goes great with his lethargic pothead attitude. There is something distinctly infantile about him. Take one look and imagine him talking on the phone to his mom for hours. Imagine quickly jumping to do the dishes if his girl tells him so. Imagine how he never fight but always talks things out. Problems imagining that? I didn't think so. Amazingly, there are moments where the PC guy looks more masculine than him.

The Mac guy ads are supposed to work because we all know that guy. We all like that guy. Mac guy represents the nice guy who happily helps us out with computer problems. He is not the type of guy we expect in high paid jobs. He is just the hip, friendly neighbor who makes you sometimes wonder if he's gay. So why do people still get annoyed watching him? It's because of incongruency. The problem is that Apple tries so hard to make him look cool. And in real life, Mac guy isn't that cool.

While the TV character gains some sex appeal via "superiority" over the clumsy, fat PC guy, nobody really believes that a guy like that would ever make the cut. Women do not feel on the guttural level what they feel when watching guys like George Clooney or Brad Pitt. This geeky Mac guy is simply ... too nice.


The latest Google phone ("Droid") had to find some way to compete with that "cool dude" image of the Mac guy (surrounding the iPhone). And they chose the obvious. White got replaced by black. Appearance gave way to substance. Stylishness was replaced by ruggedness. And the metrosexual product personification got substituted by testosterone-drenched bad-boyish masculinity (take a peek here).

The shift away from the feministic ideal is too obvious to not get discussed. Amazingly, there is quite a bit of awareness of the true (sexual) nature of why the Stay-At-Home-Dad appeal of Mac guy will fail against the muscle'n'steel approach to manhood featured by Droid:

Sam Gustin at Daily Finance calls it "an interesting study in shifting attitudes toward popular male identity", with the "prevailing definition of 'geek chic' sex appeal ... ready to transition out". His analysis is fascinating: "The dot-com boom made being a geek seem cool. And Net and tech start-up entrepeneurs -- especially if rich -- suddenly began winning the favor of women previously viewed as unattainable." In other words, as geeks started to make money, women started to get interested. And the media mistook and embraced the fact that "sensitive" somehow became sexy.

Gustin understands that women never really were into these guys: "The Mac geek-chic image of male sexuality always remained tenuous, because the classic definition of masculine vigor -- tough, rebellious, dangerous -- never really went away, and probably never will."

And women's cries for "an edgier version of male sexuality" cannot be overheard any longer. After all they are the ones who make household decisions. Says Sharon Ross, the associate chair of the TV department of Chicago's Columbia College (who somewhat ironically holds a degree in women's studies): "Women have become stronger, they're looking for stronger men."

Dead on.

What we have done as a culture is toughening up girls while softening guys. Now nature takes its toll. A strong woman still craves dominance (in the bedroom) and masculine strength (of will) in the men she is with. Stronger women need even stronger men. But we surrounded them with guys who are willing to cry - since it is okay to do so if you are a boy, too.

And Ross, as so many women these days, knows: "Women are drawn to strong men, but I don't think men are ready for stronger women, they still find them threatening."

This sums it up nicely. As women become increasingly aware of their "biological urges", they will be less and less willing to"settle" for Mac-dude-ish nice guys. What we will witness is an increase in darker, "edgier" advertisements and product designs catering to the female need for brooding rebels. The pressure is on for beta males to live up to the new standard.

22 comments:

  1. Good analysis. What other advertisments use the Mac dudish appeal?

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  2. If it kills the "man as doofus" schtik that oozes in our culture, I am all for it.

    Anyone else see that ad with the androgenous women playing with her finger phone?

    She creeps the shit out of me.

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  3. Finally an interesting article. The reason the PC guy looks masculine is because he is wearing a suit. A well dressed tailored and put together suit is the best attire for an alpha. Ex. James Bond or Mafioso Dons.

    Mac guy is just an image to lure the teenager, college and anti corporate liberal/creative artist/rebel against conforming type consumers. Meaning it reaches a specific consumer base. Apple always have top notch marketing and ads.

    If masculinity is in they will have athletes promote their products.

    Still nature always win by establishing reality. Women will always be submissive as long as they have low testosterone and high estrogen. Alpha female will need an alpha male.

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  4. Disagree. The best attire for an alpha is that which lets woman get a true inkling of the muscle-toned body underneath. A t-shirt is better, dude - so she can see the muscular forearms that will grab her by the hair and firmly hold her, the beyond belief jacked-up muscles, and the veins popping out of the arms like garden-hoses. I can't tell you how many times women have come on to me when I'm wearing a simple t-shirt (red is a nice, alpha color) as opposed to some stupid dress shirt and poorly knotted tie. Who's the more rugged? Who's she going to want to fuck (as opposed to marry or kill?) Jeans and t-shirt, or pimped-up suit? Most douches don't know how to wear a suit anyways.

    Here's an easy statistic. All alpha males should aim for a body-fat percentage of 10% or below. That will get the juices flowing.

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  5. Don't agree on the droid part. This ad is somewhat cool (due to boxing part) but the narrative is nerdy and unsexy, starting with the droid brand name itself, and I think will backfire on Verizon. This is a part of a bigger issue with american targeted-at-men subculture: this ad and the whole phone is not targeted at women, rather men. Yet it's made as attractive to women and perhaps geeks and gays? A proper man-phone ad would be james bond style or chicks in bikins, not masculine one.

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  6. and one hand shakes the other.....interesting about the confusion between making more money versus actually being sexy to women. all you need to know about what women want, watch Mad Men and Don Draper...consider also how most of the writing staff is female....and chicks don't just say, oh, Don is sexy. chicks who like Don....you can practically hear the whoosh of their panties falling when they talk about it. it's pretty inspirational.

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  7. @Anonymous

    I don't agree that showing your muscles is more attractive. Being too buff is actually low status, same with being too showy with your muscles. A lean, athletic look is optimal.

    And I have the opposite experience as you. I always get approached and complimented on for weating a nice blazer and button up.

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  8. That's why only true alphas can pull off a suit, it takes knowledge to wear cuff links, ties, shirt and suit.

    Sure if you want to get caveman then a wife beater will be the best attire. Weak men will look weaker while the strong men will look good in it. Still a suit is better since it shows you have class, social intelligence and power. Also more versatile in any situation. Why do you think James Bond is always dressed up?

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  9. But when the money is on the table, the bets will naturally end up on the bad ass motherfucker winning the game.

    Well stated.However,you ruined it with this rubbish:"Women are drawn to strong men, but I don't think men are ready for stronger women, they still find them threatening."

    That's feminist PC bull.

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  10. I also consider a suit Alpha. But like second Anon wrote, it needs to be done with style and class, something stranger to a beta.
    And it is perfectly possible to show off a muscular body in a suit, with a proper Italian tailoring.

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  11. Addendum: This is the best ad I ever seen. It will doubleup your testosterone level in 30 seconds.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0EvGPZe2UA

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  12. as a woman, I can safely tell you that justin long has been universally considered dreamy since "jeepers creepers." the mac adds are annoying because macs are annoying. of course the windows 7 adds are annoying too. but the point is, I would rather fuck the PC guy than Steve Jobs.

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  13. I like the quotes from Sharon Ross, but the rest of the post is off-base. Yes, there is a Darwinian pressure on advertising that makes them responsive to the actual desires of people, but the ads that were used in this example are for gadgets, mostly targeted at guys. I don't see how that shows how adverting is being targeted at the desires of women-- these ads aren't even targeted at women.

    Also, like anna points out, Just Long is very popular with the ladies (ever see Die Hard?). He is not a hyper-masculine athlete, but he's very laid back, confident, and overall good-looking guy. Muscles can definitely help with your game, but they are not the end-all-be-all of alphaness. That's the whole point of pickup.

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  14. @Anonymous, Anna, Casual -
    I am afraid I didn't get my point across. The fact that Just Long can get laid is irrelevant to the main point. Anyone with a degree of fame can score hot chicks (remember this?).

    What I was getting at is the reaction to the metaframe of Apple ads (i.e. the image of "cool, sexy geeks") by the makers of Droid commercials, as summarized by Sharon Ross: The whole point here is that "sexy" and "man" doesn't go well with "nice guy". That's basically it.

    You can clrealy get the idea when you read the linked article between the lines, and all I wanted to do is point out how remarkable it is that a certified feminist came to that conclusion (thus, the times are changing).

    I disagree that the notion that the notion that women have gotten stronger while men have gotten afraid of strong women is feminist bullshit. It is an every day reality outside of Men's Rights and PUA circles. Any men who radiates some masculinity will know (as the women who get drawn to him in hordes will lament about their frustrating experiences with other men).

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  15. Update: http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/12/04/ad-wars-droid-manly-iphone-girly/

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  16. Update: The ads seem to have worked. The Android user base is overwhelmingly male.

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