back to article UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren

Ads depicting manchildren incapable of carrying out basic household tasks, and women in the role of Stepford Wives clearing up their mess, are to be banned in a crackdown by the Advertising Standards Authority. It follows a review conducted by the watchdog following the public's reaction to the "beach body ready" advertising …

Silver badge

This is a good thing

Communication is extremely important, and it cannot be forgotten that many people make life decisions based on what they saw on TV.

TV has abandoned it's educational role (which is why we have public safety announcements like no alcohol for pregnant woman now), so it will have to be constrained to respect certain things.

As a result, I am entirely for this restriction because I am a bit tired of seeing the same old ads with women doing the same old stuff and men always having the same old role. I look forward to seeing what intelligent ad makers are going to do with this. I also look forward to seeing the stupid ad makers die - but I'm not putting much faith in that.

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Re: This is a bad thing

As an entirely competent male-around-the-house, I have no problem with the depiction of all or any male stereotypes, from He-man through to the wimpy Mr Muscle, or bumbling male ineptists.

Speaking for myself, I'm sufficiently adult that I don't need some tosspot regulator to bleat on my behalf, YMMV.

All part of the shitty culture shift of people seeking to take offence, or wanting to take offence on behalf of others. Fuck 'em all, I say.

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Re: This is a bad thing

what he said above

fucking whingeing idiots with too much time on their hands. ooh, i was offended as i felt stereotyped by a fucking advert.

go ahead, be offended. nothing happens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHMoDt3nSHs

go out and do something less boring instead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FQktsKvXcg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing

It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes.

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Re: This is a bad thing

Nanny state strikes again. Stereotypes exist for a reason - they make it easy to understand/relate to what we're viewing - and if the ASA gets its way on this then soon the only TV we're allowed to watch will feature an entire cast of 54 year-old black one-legged chutney-worshipping lesbians(1) because anything else would be an offensive stereotype.

Bollocks to that.

(1) https://m.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/11/bofh_2005_episode_5/

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Re: This is a bad thing

"It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes."

so how much harm is done then? do you know anyone who has been directly effected by being shown a negative sterotype?

how can we tell, objectively, what is or is not a stereotype?

how can we legislate as to what constitutes a valid stereotype, and an invalid one?

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Re: This is a good thing

>Communication is extremely important...

There are two parts to this. I remember a while back coming across the problem of household product packaging. Because it is mainly women who do most of the shopping and home care (cooking,cleaning, washing) products have (increasingly) been packaged to appeal to them. A business that had identified it's opportuntiy in the market, was launching a laundry product suite (washing powder, fabric conditioner etc.) that was targeted at the increasing numbers of men - this involved both packaging changes and in the case of fabric conditioner - fragrance changes...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing

"so how much harm is done then?"

If you take stereotypes from other times and places, like black people being subhuman or women being too simple to understand politics, it's easier to have enough perspective to see that they can cause immense harm.

How much harm any other specific stereotype does, I'll leave for you to judge. I'm just glad you've acknowledged that such a judgement needs to be made, rather than assuming the whole thing is about someone merely being offended.

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Re: This is a bad thing

you make valid points, and society has moved on, which is great.

but do you really think that the examples you raise are anywhere near in severity to what was in the article?

how is it possible to objectively legislate for this? i would say its impossible. all we will end up with is a bunch of nonsense, as per making sure that men arent seen to be useless at household chores in adverts. its a massive waste of time, and, to me , its offensive.....but its ok, i'll get over it ;)

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Meh

Re: This is a good thing

A business (launched) a laundry product - that was targeted at - men

I hate buying stuff like shampoo. I have to sift through a huge shelf with twenty separate "Lavavaline" products with labels like "Gentle Restorative Full Body Formula For Split Ends" and "conditioner" written in tiny letters off to the side somewhere.

Personally I'd love to see a product line with labels consisting of big, black, block text on while labeled as so:

Fucking Shampoo - It's Just Normal Fucking Shampoo

Fucking Dish Soap - Guess What, It's Dish Soap

Fucking Toothpaste - It's Toothpaste, That's All There Is To Say

Fucking Bar Soap - Bar Soap, buy it and fuck off.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing

"It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes."

And how much harm is being done to society by excessive nannying? People are losing their ability to think or judge for themselves, as there's always someone else to do it for them.

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Re: This is a good thing

@ Nolveys

You might actually be on for a wonderful and marketable idea.

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Re: People are losing their ability to think or judge for themselves

Ah, you've spotted the agenda.

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Re: This is a good thing

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/494595922/public-goods-revolutionizing-household-products

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing

This is unfair. Come back when the said cultural outlook prevents you from landing jobs and earning equally.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a bad thing

And how much harm is being done to society by excessive nannying? People are losing their ability to think or judge for themselves, as there's always someone else to do it for them.

Advertising exists for a reason -- if it didn't affect people's views, companies wouldn't spend so much money on it. Any reinforcement of a stereotype has an effect, especially when children are trickle-fed it over decades. Do you think it's alright for so many girls and young women to dismiss the idea of ever having a career as an engineer because that's not what women do?

Some people think they are not affected by advertising. Seventy-five per cent of people also think they are better than average drivers, but we still have seatbelt laws. Are you old enough to remember when people complained about first being forced to wear a seatbelt? "Bloody nanny state!"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

Toothpaste is a load of bollocks. Why can't they make a single toothpaste that does -everything-? Whitens teeth, kills plaque, freshens breath, strengthens enamel, removes stains, EVERYTHING. Why are there about 20 different varieties per manufacturer that only seem to handle varying subsets of the above?

(the cynical side of me is assuming the more varieties they can spaff out, the larger their share of supermarket aisle space they can demand)

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Re: This is a good thing

(washing powder, fabric conditioner etc.) that was targeted at the increasing numbers of men - this involved both packaging changes and in the case of fabric conditioner - fragrance changes...

So I can look forward to 'new car smell' for fabric softener* then?

* Not that I ever buy fabric softener - my brother asked for some when he was visiting once and I asked him if he was a poof (yeah, it was a joke) - I'm single and just too cheap and minimalist to bother...

I'm not sure this type of offensive on maybe offensive stereotypes/archetypes is really helpful - we'll probably end up with even more dull corporate PC ads than we already have - the main issue is that advert makers are a tired and worn out lot of worn-path treading hacks that really couldn't be creative even if you put them on a high dosage of hallucinogens.

Better to apply strict entertainment standards to ads - if it's not creative enough - ban it...

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Re: This is a good thing

Fucking Shampoo - It's Just Normal Fucking Shampoo

Hmm, 'fucking' might be interpreted as a verb rather than an adjective though.

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Re: This is a good thing

Women are under-represented in STEM careers. Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example) can encourage them to work in fields that aren't traditionally seen as feminine. Same goes for boys who may want to work in traditionally female dominated fields.

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Re: This is a good thing

Little by little, bit by bit. Something is being taken away from us.

At one time the stated role of the ASA was to ensure that adverts were "legal decent honest and truthful". Now, it seems, they wish to control both the message and its manner of delivery so that their social engineering ambitions will be fulfilled.

If my mind has to be raped then I'd rather it was done by voracious capitalists - I know what their agenda is - to screw as much money out of me as possible. I know it, they know it. But this insidious abuse of power just makes me want to puke.

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Optional

It doesn't exactly work like that, though, does it? Negative stereotypes don't necessarily "directly" affect people in the sense I think you mean. They have a more gradual, long-term, compounded effect. And it's often not an entirely obvious effect to observe at the level of a single person, because often the effect is to influence a person's perception of what roles (in terms of work, home life or anything else) are reasonable choices for them, and it's not easy to perceive when someone just doesn't even consider doing something because they've learned over time that it's not a thing that People Like Them do. After all, *most* people don't become astronauts or firefighters or Olympic athletes, so it's hard to look at *one* person who didn't do that and say "hmm, maybe media stereotyping played a role in this". You have to have a more sophisticated analysis.

One case I've found really interesting lately, which maybe isn't one you'd expect, is the show American Ninja Warrior in the U.S. It's an extremely popular sports-reality show (involving extremely fit people doing extremely hard obstacle courses), and to its credit it's made a conscious effort to promote female competitors. It's really fascinating to see the number of kids who see a woman doing well on a show like that and are inspired to take up the activity for themselves. I've seen more than one girl say something along the lines of they just didn't know it was *okay* for girls to be strong, muscular and powerful before seeing ANW or something like it: they just didn't see it as a choice. And indeed if you think about it, someone like Meaghan Martin (look her up, she's amazing) isn't a common sight in the media; if you think about the stereotype even of a 'fit' woman, it doesn't look like her. There's an overlap with tennis and all the shade that gets subtly thrown at players like Serena Williams who are unapologetically muscular and powerful; there's a strong current of belief that even elite female athletes must be somehow 'feminine', i.e. slender and pretty.

To put it simply: of *course* what you see around you, in the real world and in the media, affects your idea of what you yourself are capable of and 'allowed' to do, especially at the young ages where people often form their goals. It would be surprising if it were otherwise, wouldn't it? There are also of course obvious potential downsides to allowing what is effectively censorship, but I think it's nuts to deny the idea that widespread stereotyping can have this kind of effect.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a good thing

So you want Ronseal to launch a range of products:

This is Ronseal Shampoo, it cleans your heir.

This is Ronseal Dish Soap, it's soap that goes in a dish.

This is Ronseal Toothpaste, it cleans your teath

This is Ronseal Bar Soap, can you guess what it does yet.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a bad thing

If someone will sponsor me, I will take offence at those who take offence on behalf of others.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a bad thing

Yes, the "reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes" does harm society.

But then, so does censorship.

I'd like to know what rigorous study or analysis has been done to determine that the harm from one outweighs the other. I'd like to, but I suspect none has - because we're talking about articles of faith, not science.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a bad thing

"so how much harm is done then? do you know anyone who has been directly effected by being shown a negative sterotype?"

Not so very long ago it was socially acceptable to smoke pretty much wherever you wanted, even in an enclosed aircraft. It was gradually made more and more unacceptable until eventually the die-hards had to be legislated against. Now smokers get tutted at out in the open air in some case.

Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but your stereotypical working class man of the 1960's would rarely have been seen without a cigarette hanging off his lip. That's changed now and mainly by the negative messages and stereotypes used in the anti-smoking campaigns. Advertising works. Just not always they way it's intended, but repeat a message often enough and for long enough and it will take hold in significant sections of the population.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a good thing

" Not that I ever buy fabric softener "

I take it you like hard and rough towels or never dry the washing outside on a washing line. Using an electric clothes dryer can negate the need for softener, but at a cost.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a good thing

"At one time the stated role of the ASA was to ensure that adverts were "legal decent honest and truthful". Now, it seems, they wish to control both the message and its manner of delivery so that their social engineering ambitions will be fulfilled."

That's because that nice wide and grey line drawn by "legal decent honest and truthful" has been so sorely abused by the advertising industry pushing the boundaries as far as possible, like a child experimenting with what is and isn't allowed. They are supposed to be adults working within the spirit of the law, not unthinking toddlers trying it on.

TL;DR. Are you defending the advertising industry? Really? #sad LOL

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing

Speaking for myself, I'm sufficiently adult that I don't need some tosspot regulator to bleat on my behalf, YMMV.
But what of those who are not sufficiently adult? I don't want my daughter to believe that her role (or more accurately, her mother's role) is to clean up after everyone's mess, I don't want my son to believe that he can get out of chores by being incompetent. That is what these commercials have been trying to ingrain into the kids.

I can help around the house, and insist that they do as well, but they resist and need the insistence, because "that's Mommy's job". I try to teach them better, but it is made more difficult by these ads teaching the exact opposite.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing/This is a good thing

In general I dislike the use of stereotypes, apart from where they're being used ironically to undermine the laziness of thinking that underlies them. From that point of view I welcome this.

On the other hand it makes me cringe somewhat that the advertising standards agency feels they have a remit to step in like this. Sure stereotypes can be harmful, but a blanket ban? Really? The worry is that this type of creeping censorship may start going even further towards controlling the message in advertising - aand s the ASA is effectively an arm of the state I don't like where that ship is headed.

As someone already pointed out, if it wasn't for advertisers being a bunch of unprincipled arsetrumpets this would never have even been considered. Regardless of whether this is a good or a bad move I blame the advertising industry for it being seen to be necessary at all.

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jrd

Re: This is a good thing

"Women are under-represented in STEM careers. Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example) can encourage them to work in fields that aren't traditionally seen as feminine. Same goes for boys who may want to work in traditionally female dominated fields."

I understand the theory but this just isn't supported by evidence. The Scandinavian countries have been implementing equality legislation based on this theory for decades and the result is they have fewer women entering STEM careers than countries with far less equality. It seems that the more "equal" peoples' opportunities are, the more they gravitate towards the fields they are interested in - so women go into nursing and teaching and men go into engineering and construction. There is plenty of academic literature on the subject.

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Silver badge
Big Brother

Enough "PC", already!

No, seriously. Enough!

Yes, I understand that bigotry starts with the prevailing culture of "isms", that are most prominently disseminated by various entertainment mediums and their associated advertising, but on the other hand if you're the sort of person who actually needs some fucking regulator to tell you not to take the aforementioned fiction literally, then you seriously need to be nominated for the next round of Darwin Awards, because your DNA is dragging the rest of us down.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

A bad example, I think - using fabric softener on towels is not a good thing:

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a19506/fabric-softener-cleaning-product/

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Facepalm

Re: This is a bad thing

"Speaking for myself, I'm sufficiently adult that I don't need some tosspot regulator to bleat on my behalf, YMMV."

Do you have kids? If so then you know exactly how bloody stupid and easily influenced they are by everything they see around them. That's one thing I've learned bringing up a daughter over the last 20 years, they take every single thing they learn from you, they rebel against their mothers and they look to you, their father, as the first and most important bloke in the life. Then when they move on to moon over some spotty, floppy-haired bell-end in their class they at least know what a sensible bloke is actually like as they've grown up with one all their lives. They know that people, men and women, deserve equal respect.

I want my daughter to grow up and know that she is respected, my wife and I respect her, she can respect both men and women. Don't get me wrong I like to see some complete div making a mess in a kitchen 'cos he's a bloke, it's funny but kids are daft and I don't want my kids to see one message telling them all blokes are as thick as stupid kids and then seeing me, a sensible and I would say typical bloke who does his fair share of housework and sharing the chores, and she's gets conflicting messages.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

I assume you havent read 1984 then?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

No one is saying the advertising agency is blameless. They are saying that this extends the power of the state to make moral judgements that it is not competent to make.

its a bait and switch. They are talking about women doing housework. The next thing will be intelligent people teaching, Dogs fetching balls. heterosexual people enjoying each others company.

Then before you know where you are it will becomes strangely selective. Party political adverts featuring certain politicians who resemble stereotypes will banned on the grounds that they resemble stereotypes.

Finally whatever they decide is the old stereotype, will vanish, and what will be left will be a new stereotype.

Mind control masquerading as public good.

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Re: This is a bad thing

Ant the fact smoking can cause cancer...as can second hand smoke?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a bad thing @Rich11

" Are you old enough to remember when people complained about first being forced to wear a seatbelt? "Bloody nanny state!"

Yes, they were demonstrably proven to save lives.

The only thing this shit saves is some liberal organisations pay packet / carte blanche cheque.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

Fucking Shampoo - It's Just Normal Fucking Shampoo

Hmm, 'fucking' might be interpreted as a verb rather than an adjective though.

It would give a subset of society a new excuse though, as opposed to "I slipped in the bath and it somehow ended up my bum, doctor"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

"Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example)"

Have you seen Lego these days? Just a load of assemble bits to make a specific item.

Lego, back when I was a lad, was just a collection of blocks and you used your own imagination to make *anything*.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a good thing

It never occurs to people that coating an absorbent material with a water repelling surfactant will stop it being absorbent.

My SOH does it all the sodding time.

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Rol

Re: This is a bad thing

If you have been keeping up with events, you might be aware that a significant proportion of the general public absorb information, whether it be factually correct or not and then make important decisions.

If ASA had any proper power, the whole referendum vote would be rerun, and this time without the lies.

Yes we live in a society where the mass of idiots that suck up disinformation have reached such a critical point, they have the power to transform everything to shit.

We need a Darwinian task force to cull the numbers to an acceptable level, perhaps back to the tried and trusted standard of one idiot per village.

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Bronze badge
Meh

Re: This is a good thing

I agree that that a lot of cleaning product labelling is annoying and deceptive, but because iffy/bad stuff has made it's way into _most_ products, both plain and fancy, so you should get educated and check the contents before you buy them e.g. they can contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (fouls up hormones, including T), irritants, poisons (Aluminium, Toluene, Fluoride), etc.! Some brands of products can be a lot better quality with little or no harmful stuff e.g. Ecover and Bull Dog.

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Coat

Re: "how can we tell, objectively, what is or is not a stereotype?"

Easy. A stereotype is Sony, Sharp, Panasonic, etc.

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Re: This is a bad thing

How much harm is done? I dunno... My ex-wife got some of her more ludicrous negative opinions about me from somewhere. It may have been ultra-feminist claptrap, it may have had something to do with these stereotypes, I never really got to the bottom of it. Suffice it to say I now run the house, as my second wife is no longer able to.

It's rarely possible to point to a single cause for these things, but I'm sure background influences play their part.

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FAIL

Re: This is a good thing

I just barfed into my free range Peruvian corn free gluten free cornflakes with dairy, soy and almond free milk*.

Are you for real?

*A bowl of air

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Re: This is a bad thing

Precisely.

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Silver badge

Re: This is a bad thing

> It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by the reinforcement of negative or unrealistic stereotypes.

It's not about who is or isn't offended. It's about how much harm is done to society by idiotic "regulators."

FTFY

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Silver badge

Re: This is a good thing

> At one time the stated role of the ASA was to ensure that adverts were "legal decent honest and truthful"

And, as of this latest announcement, the ASA itself isn't being "honest and truthful".

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Silver badge

Re: This is a good thing

> Using an electric clothes dryer can negate the need for softener, but at a cost.

The electricity involved costs less than the conditioner, I calculate. Obviously there's a capital cost for the drier itself to consider, but then there are other benefits to weigh against that.

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