Can We Talk About These Sketchy Sketchers Ads?

mark cuban sketchers

Just when I think I’m seeing the last of this “MAN” marketing (to manly men with man bits and man face only, please and thank you), another company comes along and absolutely floors me with their homophobia and penchant for shaming dudes who don’t fit gender norms. Here I am, just sitting here on my couch with my current boy toy, trying to enjoy whatever Star Trek episode happens to be on Spike, when this Sketchers ad comes on TV.

Of course, I immediately sat bolt upright and began berating the TV. By now I should know this is completely ineffective; but no matter.

What did I just see? Was that a headless, stereotypically gay man flouncing by, objectified in the same way that women often are in advertisements? Was that done to emphasize the fact that he is FEMININE LIKE A LADY? Who is this awful redshirt smirking nastily at him, anyway? Apparently, unbeknownst to me until I googled it, he’s Mark Cuban, the owner of a basketball team. Of course.

mark cuban red shirt

It doesn't end this way, alas

This sort of ad just reinforces the same tired stereotypes. Basically, the one that says that only women and gay men can care about what they look like. That men think comfort is more important than appearance in any and all cases – well, if they’re straight, manly men you can relate to, at least. So, “real” men. It sends the message that deriding someone who seems to be gay for wearing a “man-scarf” is okay, and even funny. Cuban even pretends (patronizingly) to agree with the kid in the end, before glancing over and laughing at him behind his back as if we were in junior high school. I’m shocked and disappointed with Sketchers for airing an ad that’s fairly obviously stereotypical and just plain rude. But then again, should I even be surprised considering the same company created this line for girls:

(It’s in… Japanese? Sorry, the best example I could find)

Versus this for boys:


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    • Jenny

      I must be dense, because that commercial didn’t seem to have anything to do with gays. It was making fun of hipsters…

      It also didn’t seem to have anything to do with being manly (or not manly)…

      Am I the only one who doesn’t see it? This post seems like a reach…

      • Dbear

        I agree that this commercial does not indicate the sexual identities of either person. I think that making assumptions about those identities is in itself an act of stereotyping. I do think the commercial is attempting to jump on the “make fun of hipsters” bandwagon, and may have undertones about what is manly. The commercial may be in poor taste, but I don’t agree that it is homophobic. Assuming that a character with skinny jeans and a scarf IS gay is stereotypical.

    • Elevator_from_Duh_Shining

      Yeah, I’m with you on that. As someone who is typically ALL over sexism in advertising, I looked at this as more of a jab at hipster culture.

    • Mathilde Hoeg Boisen

      please only show commercials in foreign languages. That was fascinating..

      Also, why even need to make fun of any (sub)culture. Hipsters are not worse people, they just dress differently. You can make it about relaxed fit in so many other ways.