Can a Manly Man Fix What Needs Fixing, and Laugh, Too?
This is not about your mother’s Brawny Towel guy: Contemporary guys can laugh.
Posted Jan 26, 2018
Do you know that you can now purchase a “Manly Man Fix Kit”?
You think I’m kidding?
At first I thought it was a joke, too, but now along with 2.4 million other people, I know it is indeed a business—and a lucrative one. There’s a product, called FiberFix, that claims to be a far stronger version of duct tape. They created a commercial titled “Redneck Drives Duct Tape Car Off a Cliff” and while you might not think you’d watch all five minutes, you will.
Sure enough, cars are driven off cliffs in the ad. One car is encased in a cage made from duct tape and one protected by a cage made from FiberFix.
But no actual rednecks were harmed in the making of this video. And that’s where things get interesting: Would anyone watch if the ad said, “Upper-Middle-Class White Guys Damage Cars to Prove a Point”?
The central character is played by Jason Gray, member of a successful comedy troupe called Studio C. Although he can wear a flannel shirt, sport a mustache (perhaps affixed with fiber), and drawl with an accent as lilting as Jeff Foxworthy’s, this is not your mother’s Brawny Towel guy.
Would your mother’s Brawny Towel guy, when explaining that FiberFix is “as strong as steel” emphasize his point by clarifying: “That’s not an expression. It’s literally as strong as steel. I’m not prone to hyperbole.” He’s undermining the masculine mystique throughout the ad so deftly that unless you listen closely (or watch with the closed-caption option activated as if you were studying, say, Francoise Truffaut’s classic Adele H. for a film class) you’ll miss half of the funny bits.
Put it this way: You won’t miss the fart jokes, but you might miss the startlingly subversive analogies. My favorite is where our hero is discussing the weakness of duct tape: “Duct tape is temporary, and only gets you so far. It keeps the pieces together without actually make the things work again. Like my birth did with my parents’ marriage.”
Complex and subversive, the ad slides in and out of the clichéd good old boy routine like a boxer weaving around the ring. There are scenes where Our Redneck smashes concrete with a newly repaired shovel, but there are also scenes where he explains how fixing things permits you to “spend the money you saved on something manly like hunting equipment or a diversified stock portfolio that sensible yet aggressive enough to expect reasonable ROI because that’s manly too.”
Whether you’re from New York or Texas, that's funny.
In fact, there are Texans who now live in Manhattan attesting to this very fact. Tim Taylor, a New York ad executive originally from Dallas, warned that while “Urbanistas may sneer,” his own “Inner redneck says I need this. Speaks to a universal desire to make things unbroken.”
Kari Lynn Collins, also from Texas, wanted to make sure I understood that this ad was the “Song of My People.” The central character “reminded me of every single man I've ever been in love with, which explains my capacity for humor at my advanced age.”
Finally, according to my friend Nick from Nebraska, FiberFix is the “adult male equivalent of kid’s Band-Aids, which are the original FiberFix on a smaller scale. This is not to prevent bleeding or infection, but to pretend that the original entity hasn’t been irreparably damaged. These guys do not want a replacement but instead the authentic original, for old time sake.”
But FiberFix might also fix, or at least adjust, your man’s definition of manly. It might at least help him to discuss whether the straightjacket of conventional masculinity is as confining as the one for stereotypical femininity. (You just know he’s just been waiting around hoping to have THAT conversation)
And then watch his reaction to the line: “FiberFix: For every man including women.” If he laughs, he can stay. It’s terrific that men are finally developing a sense of humor and can begin to kid around about themselves.
Reassure your guy that he’s come a long way, baby. And let’s all fix what needs fixing in this world.