Why are people mad at a town filled with Ryan Reynolds?
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
I’m not going to lie, I don’t know much about the Super Bowl. I care very little for football as it does not have the grace and prestige of soccer, and I generally only watch the halftime show. As such, I never really see any of the famous Super Bowl commercials that everyone goes nuts for—so, when I read about all this drama going around on the Internet regarding this year’s round of marketing masterpieces, I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. To remedy this, I did what any sane, Internet-savvy woman would do—I googled the f*** out of that shit!
After watching the commercials I understand some of the confusion surrounding that weird birth one for Doritos, and whatever the hell that creepy monkey thing was advertising. But the cherry on top of the cake came from an unlikely source—Hyundai.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am referring to the commercial now known as “Ryanville.” The premise is simple: two people are driving through a neighbourhood and are constantly distracted by the fact everyone looks like Ryan Reynolds. Innocent enough, right?
Here’s the subliminal issue that you might not have caught on to. Both the people in the car are women—not surprising, a lot of women probably love Ryan Reynolds (I know I do). However, it is now speculated that the commercial is actually insinuating that distracted driving is only a problem for female drivers as a means of endearing itself to a mostly male viewership. Now to people who have never taken a marketing or psychology course this might sound like a big leap or a ridiculous assumption. Unfortunately, advertising has a rather nasty history of systematic female oppression in order to appease patriarchal society. If that still sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, consider this: when was the last time you saw a beverage company with a man drinking out of a bottle on the side of their truck? Those that do have them are pretty few and far between. The reason for this is because society as a whole finds women drinking out of bottles more aesthetically appealing. Why, you may ask? According to Sex in Advertising, it is reminiscent of fellatio, which is more socially acceptable for women to do as opposed to men.
The important thing to remember is that all actions and choices made in advertising and/or marketing are very deliberate. People study for many years to know exactly what will appeal to any given demographic. Want to sell to men? Make them feel like your product will somehow improve their chances of conforming to the masculine ideal. Want to sell to either men or women? Create a scenario where one gender is proven superior to another in some way, such as a car commercial showing women as terrible drivers. The reverse of this is also true—commercials with bumbling husbands trying to do laundry or braid their daughter’s hair show men as incapable caregivers as a means of endearing the product to a female demographic.
Recently, there has been a surge in advertising that is trying to fight against this marketing norm. A Campbell’s Soup commercial shows two homosexual men successfully caring for a child together, and another commercial shows a single father cleaning up his house in preparation for a visit from his daughter. However, commercials that are specifically targeted towards men still tend to be heteronormative and, more often than not, sexist.
So what does this mean for “Ryanville?” Outside of the context of the Super Bowl, the commercial itself comes off as amusing yet slightly dated—meaning that if it was played during regular airtime the problems with how it is constructed would probably be more apparent. However, insulated within the plethora of testosterone that is NFL programming, it doesn’t come off as strange because it is surrounded by images that are also specifically directed towards a masculine audience.
Hopefully seeing the difference in these two situations will force all viewers to be more aware of how they interpret advertising on a grander scale.