The phrase ‘Man up’ is a noxious one at best. But it risks losing all meaning if it is continually employed for trivialities. A man struggling to find courage in the face of adversity, or blighted by prevarication when action is due, might benefit from the imperative, presuming it was delivered by an appropriate source. Another – a better – man is really the only acceptable giver of the exhortation to ‘man up’, and it is an exhortation to be used sparingly.
It’s not difficult, bearing this in mind, to see what’s so wrong with the latest Miller Lite commercial. For starters, all light beer should be stricken from the earth. There is really no point in claiming that one light beer is more masculine than another, for it is all abominable. If you are watching your weight, don’t drink beer. It’s that simple. Don’t doubly emasculate yourself by publicly announcing that you diet as you order your calorie-controlled weasel urine.
Second, this man clearly has no need of diet, so his choices are reducible to his general lack of taste. It is quite audacious here to have portrayed the righteous barmaid without a shred of irony. She knows taste. She knows the right light beer for real men. But she does not, I aver, for it does not exist.
The man is justly criticised for his choice in bag, but the issue is surely its cheap vinyl quality, not its denomination. Men carry stuff. There’s no getting around it. But it is possible to choose a bag of some distinction, made of leather; something that will wear and, with you, garner its own biography. This man is cheap and tasteless. His critic operates within the same sphere of cheap tastelessness. The ad overall can be reduced to the same assessment. The next time some company tells us to ‘man up’, it had better be a call to arms.
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