Hey Zebco, Stop Telling Fathers They Shouldn’t Tell Their Sons They Love Them

Last night I was snuggling with my boo on the couch, trying to enjoy some YouTube videos of sleeping kittens when I was rudely interrupted by this horrific commercial:

The ad for the fishing gear manufacturer Zebco shows a father and son fishing with the company’s new reel, and we hear the dad’s inner monologue: “Hey Josh, I don’t say this often enough but I think you are a great kid, and you mean the world to me. You know that, right?” Then the voice-over comes in: “When you take them fishing with America’s favorite reel, it says a lot.”

I certainly don’t give Zebco credit for inventing this problematic approach. Several years ago Johnnie Walker ran a series of ads with the basic premise being instead of letting your brother know you love him, you can buy him this whiskey instead and he’ll basically get it:

These ads reify the problematic social norm that men cannot and should not express their emotions, especially love, and especially love of other men. (Anger is the one exception—men are supposed to express that liberally, and this comes at great costs.)

Shame on you, Zebco. Your reels don’t even work well. They certainly don’t say, “I love you.”

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