This very recently aired Taco Bell commercial, aims to showcase its new featured item; The Triple Steak Stack. This advertisement does an exceptional job at reinforcing the, oh so, overbearing stereotypes surrounding the societal expectations for what masculinity should mimic. The producers have managed to accomplish a phenomenal feat, and should win the prize for cramming the most barbaric representations of the male gendered species in only 31 seconds.
Firstly, the voiceover, who acts as the little voice inside the main character’s head—Hurricane Doug, is incredibly deep, with a raspy quality that heightens the intensity of what is supposed to be true manliness. Though, looking at ‘Hurricane Doug’ it is obvious that this voice does not match the same register of his own. Doug is a shorter, white male, dressed in business casual clothing. The commercial alludes to the notion that because of Doug’s outward appearance, he is not considered a “man’s man,” but by eating more steak he now will be able to consider himself one, and even be man enough to join the “real men” on the basketball court.
Another concern is the representation of the black men playing basketball. Their depiction takes on an almost animalistic portrayal. The music is slowed down and their words are distorted so it just sounds like muffled animal roars. This tactic is used to heighten the intimidation factor for Doug, but it simultaneously heightens the racial stigmatization about black people. Patricia Hill Collins writes in her article Booty Call, “Some black men’s bodies may be admired, as is the case for athletes, but other black bodies symbolize fear” (Hill 158). This short advertisement manages to take the admired athletic black man’s body and turn it into the body that evokes fear.
This barbaric claim that a man is a man when he eats his meat underpins all of the misconceptions about male gender and masculinity. So thank you Taco Bell, for creating a nation wide commercial that exploits the vulnerable male ego, by making the claim, a man is not a man without his meat. That is exactly what society needed.