They say you should really only write what you know, and so I ask this question very much from the sidelines but, seriously dudes, are you ok? Because advertising, and recent studies, are suggesting that you really aren’t.
In 1994, being a man meant using a Gillette razor. It meant helping your kid get a slam dunk, tucking your daughter into bed, snogging your wife in a lift, and then going off to practise your hobby of flying fighter jets. All with a smile on your smoothly shaven, insanely chiseled face.
Fast forward 21 years and the picture is very different. If the latest VW Tiguan advert is anything to go by, then being a man in 2015 means fundamentally hating your life. Your annoying, girly daughter, your dumb sleeping wife, your idiot son who needs to use the bathroom when you’re trying to watch the game, and your stupid, stupid multimillion pound house on a quiet Islington street. Jeez, being a wealthy family man today is rubbish.
It’s easy to poke fun, but a recent Samaritan’s report indicates that something has gone really wrong for today’s generation of 30-something/ 40-something men. As one of the researchers was quoted in The Telegraph, “Men currently in their midyears are caught between their traditional silent, strong and austere fathers who went to work and provided for their families, and the more progressive, open and individualistic generation of their sons. They do not know which of these two very different ways of life and masculine culture they should follow”.
I live in Stoke Newington, where I see the Tiguan advert play out on a daily basis. Men with babies strapped to their fronts, Whole Foods bag in hand, and a Supreme sticker stuck hopefully onto the side of the Bugaboo. Men slipping into Borough Wine to throw back three shots of wine samples, while their four-year-old waits outside with the dog. It seems men want to “have it all” just as much as the women folk do. They want the Peter Pan existence of their 20-something co-workers, as well as a Modern Family modern family. Don’t we all?
And that’s the thing. Gender equality doesn’t make washing up, or child care, or not having a moment’s peace magically disappear. Just because it’s shared doesn’t make it any less boring or, at times, soul destroying. The Tiguan ad sat awkwardly with me not just because the bloke seemed in a bit of a state, but because it would have felt far more believable if both parents had been rolling their eyes.
Regardless, whether it’s down to a generational malaise or the harsh realities of gender equality, the car is transforming. It’s gone from being a symbol of escapism and fantasy, the epitome of speed and power, to a refuge. In this respect the Tiguan is the garden shed of cars - quiet, calm and lockable. And guys, if you need a moment, go for it. We get it. We’re in it together.