Kyle OrtonNormally, I don’t pay close attention to the commercials that air during Broncos games. But one ad I heard on the radio during the Broncos’ 17-10 win over Dallas this past Sunday caught my attention

It was an ad for a local Honda dealership.

Denver quarterback Kyle Orton was making the pitch for Hondas. Incredibly, he wasn’t making a pitch for a giant Honda Ridgeline pick-up truck. He was pitching, of all things, the Honda Insight! This is the complete opposite of what you’d expect from a football player.

After all, football = macho and male, and we all “know” macho and male = big, hulking, gas-guzzling environmentally unfriendly cars, or, really, trucks designed to roll over and destroy anything and everything “green”.

Absurd, dumb, ridiculous, and, sadly, true: Big, loud, dirty and anti-green have been for a very long time — far too long — linked to maleness. Meanwhile, clean, green, and quiet have been identified with femaleness.

The flip side of this is that “green”, the environment, and environmentalism are represented in our society as weak, wimpy, and female.

Absurd, dumb, ridiculous, and, sadly, true: Big, loud, dirty and anti-green have been for a very long time — far too long — linked to maleness. Meanwhile, clean, green, and quiet have been identified with femaleness.

Muscle car = male, Beetle = female
This connection extends beyond the car realm in which big, hulking gas-guzzling cars, or speedy “muscle” cars = maleness and smaller, more fuel efficient cars – for instance, the VW Beetle = female.

This male = nature conqueror/destroyer vs. female = nature protector opposition is apparent elsewhere too.

Don’t believe me?

Think about the following list in terms of stereotypical male/female opposites. If you’d like, add a few of your own oppositions using the ‘Disqus’ comments option below this blog entry. Here’s my short list:

  • coal power plant – solar panels
  • coal – sun
  • nuclear energy – wind farm
  • motocross cycling – horseback riding
  • hunting – hiking
  • diesel – electric
  • oil – electric
  • dirty car mechanic (gas vehicles) – clean car mechanic (electric vehicles)
  • dirty – clean

How’d you do?

If you’re like me, you marked everything on the left as “male” and everything on the right as “female”.

Dominant image of male as nature conqueror
I’m not entirely sure how this male = conquer (and destroy) nature, female = protect and nurture nature imagery has become so dominant in our society.

I’d need to do an historical analysis to figure this out. In doing this, I’d definitely want to take a close look at the term “Mother Nature” and how, where, and why this concept first develops.

Kyle OrtonHistorical analysis aside, I’m convinced the male-female nature conqueror/greenie opposition I’m talking about here is extremely prevalent in our society.

Frankly, I’d like to deconstruct it in all of its ridiculousness and replace it with something linking environmentalism to virility, especially for the stereotypical football crowd, “stereotypical” here meaning the blue-collar (football) crowd.

Kyle Orton, macho football player, actively promoting the Honda Insight is a very good – and promising – start at making “green” more virile, more acceptable for men.

Kyle Orton says, “Live Green!”
Wait, it gets better! Orton even closes this ad for this Denver-area Honda dealership by making a direct appeal to “live green.”

The Orton Insight ad – which at least begins to break down the marking of “green” as feminine  — is a sure sign environmentalism is going mainstream.

This is excellent news, for the environment, for the world, and for men in general, who, I hope, will (soon) be able to say, “I’m green!” without having to risk losing that all-important male “face”.

Or, maybe I’m misreading this Kyle Orton Honda ad.

Football is one of the few social institutions which regularly brings white- and blue-collar classes together in the same physical and cultural space – meaning in the same stadium and in the same television audience.

Maybe this Kyle Orton ad is aimed only at the white-collar football fans. Maybe this Denver-area Honda dealership is running separate ads promoting the Ridgeline to blue-collar Broncos fans, minus the appeal to green-ness.

If that’s the case, then this Kyle Orton ad represents just another example of more-of-the-same niche marketing.

You see a lot of this, especially on national sports TV broadcasts. You know, the Heineken ads aimed at the white-collar sports fans, and the Bud Light ads intended for the blue-collar sports fans.

Just another niche-marketing ad?
I’m not sure if deliberate niche-marketing is what’s going on with this Kyle Orton-Insight ad or not.

After the place-kicker and the punter – quite clearly “girlies” on a team otherwise characterized by “real” men — quarterback is quite possibly the most “feminine” of football positions.

A possible hint that this might be the case: Orton’s a quarterback.

After the place-kicker and the punter – quite clearly “girlies” on a team otherwise characterized by “real” men — quarterback is quite possibly the most “feminine” of football positions.

Get a giant defensive lineman to promote the Honda Insight and maybe it’s a different ball game, I don’t know.

Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. The more you see macho football players actively promoting a green lifestyle the better.

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