Steel City Cowboy

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Casual Misandry in Home Depot's Ad Department

Radio commercial from the way into work this morning:

[Sung] "It's all inside..." [Sears]

[Narrator] "Here's a thirty-second shopping tip from us to you..."

[cell phone rings -- all voices are through cell-sounding connection]

[Woman] "Hi honey!"

[Man] "Hey. What're you looking at?"

[Woman, in stupified, amazed voice] "Shoes. You should see these shoes."

[Man] "Ummm... didn't we agree we were here to get a washing machine?"

[Woman, still mesmerized] "Yeah, but these pumps... I already have your credit card in my hand..."

[Man] "Can those shoes do our laundry?"

[Woman, reluctantly] "I'll be right over."

[Sung] "It's all inside..."


Really bizarre, no?

Well, as you probably figured out about halfway through, that's not a real radio spot. How did you figure that out? There's no way that would ever make it on the air.

In reality, the spot was one for Home Depot in the exact same format in which a man slavers and drools over a new grill, while his wife sticks to the practical plan of finding the washing machine they agreed to. The bit about the credit card wasn't in there, but I thought it worked on the same level of stereotyping: men are stupid, easily-distracted beasts who only like shiny grills and meat vs. women are vapid, easily-distracted shopoholics who live to spend their husbands' future earnings on new shoes.

So, beyond the fact that this scenario simply doesn't happen (I mean, come on... when was the last time a guy wanted to, you know, detour shop when there was a clear plan for getting in and out of a store, while the gal was on an efficient one-product-only retail mission?), what's wrong with this ad?

The answer's obvious, of course. Why is it okay to make fun of guys in advertising and not the ladies? I know this has been talked about for a while now, but I was hoping that maybe it was a phase that these uncreative "creative" types were going through and that it would have pooped itself out by now. Apparently I was wrong.

I'm not saying that I think the above fake ad is okay. It's not. It's uncreative, dumb and not funny. I'm just saying that the real ad shouldn't have seen the light of day for the same reasons.

I think I'll start a website entirely devoted to putting up counter-ads to the large proportion of ads that use the "guy as dope" cliche to sell their service. I'll have to put scans of Berenstain Bears books on there too, with the text rewritten to reflect a broader reality of family life than just "Mom's are always smart and oh-so-wise, the kids are not far behind, but Dad's little better than an ex-convict with ADHD and an active meth habit."

So thanks, Home Depot, for taking casual shots at the very group of people who provide more revenue to your company than all other groups combined. Geniuses running that place, I tell you.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Honest - I'd Write An Unbiased Article, But The Government Won't Give Me Enough Free Money

Here's an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Rallies fault Bush for public housing cuts"

This article is so biased toward socialism that I couldn't not say something about it. Let's look:
About 500 people marched in the Hill District yesterday to protest another year of federal cuts in affordable housing that likely will mean layoffs in Pittsburgh. The Philadelphia Housing Authority announced 350 layoffs Tuesday.

So, the government should never ever ever cut spending, because it will mean that people who work for the government will lose jobs. That's just phenomenal logic: we shouldn't cut the size of government, because it would reduce the size of government. I'm thinking that we should have the government employing the absolute least number of people possible. I also like how the article calls it "affordable" housing. Instead of using that loaded term, shouldn't the socialist writer have used something more accurate like "taxpayer subsidized" housing? Notice that not once in the entire article is there any mention that the money for all this comes from taxpayers.
In rallies and daylong shutdowns that involved almost 100 agencies across the nation, public housing advocates skewered the Bush administration for budget shortfalls.

Skewered? Have at you sir! The author must think that the rallies really stuck it to Bush. Why else use the word "skewered"? A less biased way to say it would have simply been "criticized". Then, they go on to call them budget "shortfalls", which are bad -- we all know a budget shortfall is bad right? -- instead of cuts. Could it be because most people think government budget cutting is good, and there's no way in the world this writer would portray it that way? Of course, all of this ignores the fact that it is the Congress that draws up and passes spending legislation, not the President, but since Congress are the good guys now, we can't say anything against them.
"We need to convey the severity of the single largest reduction in funding this agency has ever faced and what it means to the 20,000 residents we serve," said A. Fulton Meachem, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

Of course this guy's pissed... he's losing his funding! Seriously, has any head of a government department ever said "We're having our budget cut and reducing the size of our agency. Isn't that grand!"?
Chanting "What do we want? Fair housing! When do we want it? Now!" residents of public housing, advocates of affordable housing and plumbers, carpenters, painters and security officers for housing authorities traipsed en masse from the Hill House to Freedom Corner along Centre Avenue.

Can someone explain to me what "fair housing" is? "Fair", in the normal sense of the word, means that everyone plays by the same rules. When you map that onto commercial transactions like rent, it simply means that you get what you pay for. No more, no less. That's fair. What they mean is that they want better housing than they can pay for. Which, on a limited basis I'm not entirely against. We shouldn't have people living on the streets. But the whole public housing system is entirely screwed, and there is little that public housing residents give back to society in exchange for us providing them with housing that they otherwise couldn't afford.
How's this for "fair" housing? If you're going to house yourself and your family on MY labor, you need to give something back to the community. What would that be? I'm not sure, but I'd say it starts with getting your kids and neighborhoods under control and not letting your housing development turn into a crime-ridden slum. What's that, you say? The police should be doing that? Wrong! Although it's not their stated intent, in real life, law enforcement's job is to look for the guy that shot you, not prevent it in the first place. Oh, sometimes they're in the right place at the right time, and get to prevent a crime. But the real responsibility for safe neighborhoods begins with the people who live there. Period.
Before the march, to a packed Kaufmann Auditorium, Frank Aggazio, executive director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, said, "I've never seen a crisis like this."

Look! Another guy in charge of a Housing Authority is losing his funding. And he's not happy about it. I'm just as shocked as I was the first time.
Henry Wild, a resident of public housing in Ross, told the assembly, "Pick up a piece of paper and write those politicians and let them know how disgusted you are."

I want to see those letters! "Dear politician, I am so disgusted that you gave me less free money that other people earned this year. Please give me more free money next year, because I would like to get all the different HBO channels instead of just the one I have now."
This year's federal allocation is 76 percent of the amount the federal government's own formula says a housing authority needs to operate. Last year's allocation was about 85 percent. The year before it was almost 89 percent.
"Subsidies continue to get cut, and prices go up," said Michelle Jackson-Washington, deputy director of the Pittsburgh Housing Authority. "We're avoiding them [layoffs] for as long as possible.
"If we don't have the money to pay police officers at night, what happens to security?" she asked. "What happens to the maintenance of leaking faucets? Snow removal?"

So we have statistics cited without any kind of references. What formulas, exactly? Sounds to me like the writer just regurgitated some Housing Authority PR numbers without even taking ten seconds to understand them. I'm sure there's absolutely no statistical shenanigans going on there. It's the age of the Internet -- throw us a reference so we can confirm that you're not just blowing smoke. It's easy, really.
Demographers and housing experts have been warning of a coming crisis caused by diminishing housing options for the poor. Incentives to help low-income people buy homes, like tax credits, do not reach far enough to help the very poor, of whom many in public housing are elderly.
She added that more than 40 percent of the residents in public housing in the city work, "but they're not making enough to go to the private market."

Any mention in the article of alternatives to taxpayer funded public housing? I don't see any. All I see is a list of big government solutions to a problem that is largely its own creation. Apparently, the only solutions the writer can see reside with the government.
The federal cutbacks will cause an ever expanding economic ripple, said Ms. Jackson-Washington. "We employ 480 people who pay taxes, and we have a very large vendor list" of people the authority pays for services.
The Allegheny County Housing Authority already has reduced its staff drastically over the past three years, from 280 to 165.

Sounds like a good start. So now, according to Ms. Jackson-Washington, we should be employing people at taxpayer expense because... wait for it... they pay taxes on their income. The stupidity of that statement is stunning.
"What I'm hoping is that the climate in Washington has changed a little bit and that lawmakers can find it in their hearts" to reverse the misfortune, said Mr. Aggazio, whose housing authority oversees 3,200 public housing units at 36 sites, 10 of which are designated for the elderly. In nine others, most residents are elderly.

Wait a minute. I thought this was the President's fault. At least, that's what the headline says. But here, Mr. Aggazio says that it's up to Congress to 'find it "in their hearts" to reverse the misfortune.' I was under the silly impression that it was Congress that allocated funding, and Congress that could cut it or increase it. So there, Mr. Aggazio and I agree. But it make me wonder why the headline would then accuse the President of doing this, when even within the article itself lies the admission that it's Congress? Also, I like how it's once again not characterized as spending less of the taxpayer's money -- it's "misfortune". Just plain old bad luck.

And now we also see the tragedy of this whole situation: by the Federal government more or less monopolizing and subsidizing a culture of poverty, we are presented with the horrible choice of allowing an out-of-control government behemoth to continue to grow or... throw old people out on the streets. That sucks.
"It is not a stretch to believe that if the current trend continues, many housing authorities will simply go out of business," said Carl Greene, executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, who initiated yesterday's national protest.
If housing authorities start going out of business, said Ms. Jackson-Washington, "homelessness will be the alternative."

Another disgruntled Housing Authority director ready to lose his funding. Yawn. And Housing Authorities are a business now? I thought businesses did something like offer a product or service so they could make a profit. Don't get me wrong -- the mission statement for the Allegheny County Housing authority is a noble one. It really is. But when did people stop realizing that depending on large amounts of Federal tax money was a bad idea, one that was likely to bite you in the ass sooner or later? If a hammer devises a noble statement about driving screws into wood to the very best of its ability... well, it might be a nice sentiment, but it doesn't change the fact that it's the wrong tool for the job, or that the screws actually need to be set into concrete block.
"We're having an erosion in dollars for the lowest-income people," said Elizabeth G. Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. She said her agency will use a recent survey of Pennsylvanians to lobby for political will that's been lacking.
The survey of 802 registered voters, conducted last summer on behalf of housing advocates in the state, ranked affordable housing second only to affordable health care as the top concerns.
The report indicated that a majority of those surveyed failed to recognize that a shortage of affordable houses is a problem, but of those who did, 88 percent put it in second place.

I'd love to see the wording of those questions. At this point in the article, can you really trust the author that those questions weren't radically biased? They may not have been, but in light of the rest of the article there is no reason to trust them on it.
While public housing distributions have been cut for three straight years, a new federal formula has been devised to redistribute operating money from the Northeastern states to the Sun Belt. Donna White, HUD's national spokeswoman, said that is because a Harvard study showed that Southern states have been underfunded while Northeastern states have been overfunded.

So... why not interview all the poor people in the South who've had to suffer because the downtrodden in the Northeast have had more than their "fair" share of free money? Well, obviously because this a Pittsburgh newspaper. No problem with that. But this is just a demonstration of the socialist government mindset: to win in one place, someone has to lose somewhere else. And that's because the government doesn't actually produce or create anything of value. They just take from the people who actually do produce things and add value to society, remove their ever-growing cut, then hand it back out in a degraded state.
And let's finish with a completely political quote so loaded with Iraq war buzzwords that I'm not even going to bother to deconstruct it:
"I urge President Bush to reverse course and come up with a new strategy for affordable housing," said Mr. Greene. "Stop the cut-and-run policy and restore the value held by most Americans of helping the vulnerable among us."

This is certainly quality "news" reporting. If the Post-Gazette keeps writing stuff this good, they may be able to start syndicating their stuff to Socialist and Communist news weeklies around the world!

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