Anyone watching this year's NFL playoffs has probably seen Miller Lite's newest commercial. The ad features two attractive young women seated next to a fountain. They are debating what's best about the beer: "tastes great" or "less filling"? Suddenly the argument degenerates into "an angry, clothes-shredding, wrestling match," and the women end up in the fountain. They strip each other down to their undergarments before continuing the match in a cement trough. How degrading to these women. The ad then cuts to a bar where it turns out that the fight was merely a male fantasy. It was two guys' idea of the perfect beer ad. In the network version, their dates then look at them in a way that says, "What morons!" Miller has drawn fire, to put it mildly, for this latest ad, named "Catfight." Laura Ries, a media and image consultant, called the ad "degrading" and "explicit" in USA Today. Miller acknowledged that married women with families, especially those over forty, are especially put off by "Catfight." But then, these women aren't Miller's target audience. The beer company claims to have hit a "home run" with twenty-one- to thirty-one-year-old males who, Miller claims, see the ad for what it is: an "insight into guys' mentality" and "a lighthearted spoof of guys' fantasies." In other words, Miller is saying that every young American male is at heart what advertisers and media experts call a "mook." A mook is a perpetual adolescent. He is pre-occupied with sexual matters and cannot rise above the level of the trivial. As Douglas Rushkoff of New York University says, the mook is entirely "the creation of marketers." He is designed to sell to young men by appealing to an exaggerated version of their worst instincts. What then happens is that, in what Rushkoff calls a "feedback loop," young men imitate what they see on the screen, which in turn prompts similar images -- a vicious circle, in which what people see shapes their self-understanding, as well as their behavior. That's bad because the mook is everywhere. In one beer ad, the guys depicted are so slothful that they tunnel into their neighbor's refrigerator and steal her Bud Lite beer rather than go to the store. In another ad, guys "debate" the outcome of a battle between the Bionic Man and Wonder Woman. TV shows are also filled with mooks. Male characters on popular shows like Friends exhibit mook-like characteristics. Anything aimed at a young male audience is expected to feature immature behavior, like bathroom humor and sexual innuendo. Throughout mass media, the message is usually the same one Ries got from the Miller Lite commercial: "All men are idiots." Thus, media and advertisers have succeeded at doing what generations of feminists only dreamed of: rendering young American males as ridiculous, maybe even superfluous -- the kind of dimwitted and trivial being that a woman is better off without. I'll warn you: Now that you know what a mook is, you'll see him everywhere -- even in church. If you watch the game Sunday, watch it with your kids. Look for the ads with the mooks, and take the opportunity to talk to them. Explain why mooks are lousy role models and how women are degraded in these ads. Better to step in before worldviews get injured in the game. For further reading: Michael McCarthy, "Miller Lite's 'Catfight' ad angers some viewers," USA Today, 15 January 2003. Douglas Rushkoff discussed the creation of the "mook" in PBS's Frontline report, "The Merchants of Cool." Charles Colson, "Merchants of Cool," Christianity Today, 11 June 2001. Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (Touchstone, 1995).


Chuck Colson


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