Tag Archives: Neil Patrick Harris

the most interesting men in the world

He wouldn’t be afraid to show his feminine side, if he had one.

His mother has a tattoo that reads “son”

At museums, he’s allowed to touch the art

He is the most interesting man in the world!

We have 3 campaigns that feature a certain kind of man.  I refer to the most interesting man in the world.  Sorry, I mean of course, the most interesting man in the world!

This Dos Equis ad.  

The Old Spice ad featuring Bruce Campbell.  

The more recent Old Spice ad.  

And most recently, the DQ ad in which a guy says “I’m not just playing a guitar, I’m playing a guitar that sounds like dolphins.”  

The men in these ads appear to have somethings in common.  They suffer from overweening self regard and total self possession.  These are the people for whom the term “supercilious” was invented.

We have noticed hyperbolic males here before.  Charlie and Barnie, characters in Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother, respectively, as played by Charlie Sheen and Neil Patrick Harris, respectively, are self-regarding males.  But what marks them as males is not just the fact that they are self self aggrandizing, but a still deeper cynicism.  

The DosEquis,OldSpice,DQ man is much too vain to entertain cynicism. Cynicism requires a knowledge of the world outside yourself.  DEOSDQ man does not know about the world outside himself.  

So where is this guy from, why are we using him, and why is he, in the Old Spice case, so spectacularly successful as a cultural artifact?

The good news is that our culture used to produce these males, on screen and in the world, without a hint of ridicule.  James Bond and other spies were all about “touching the art,” that is to say, claiming special privileges that came to them because of their special status. (License to kill!)  

And this is what make these guys funny.  We are not laughing with them, we are laughing at them.  But there are lots of ridiculous artifacts that can be retrieved from the backwash of our culture.  

Why this guy now?