Original Advertisement Analysis
The above firearms advertisement by American gun manufacturer Bushmaster Firearms takes aim at stereotypical ideologies of masculinity to appeal to a male consumer market. The advertisement depicts a rifle accompanied by the tag line “Consider your man card reissued.” This tag line implies that when a male has firearms in his possession, he is masculine. Conversely, the statement also implies that without such weapons in his possession, the male is somehow not a man at all. The hypermasculinity portrayed in this advertisement capitalizes on individuals justifying their gender by purchasing commercial products. That is to say, by buying this gun, a man can cement his masculinity and dominance on those around him. Although not stated, the implication of men requiring firearms implies a glorification of male violence in that all “real” men should have a weapon to use at all times. Further, as the advertisement is for commercial firearms, it is immature in its approach to sell weapons that are capable of large scale deaths. Gun culture in North America has been a contentious issue for many years; perhaps even more so in the past decade due to the multiple mass shootings that have taken place in the United States of America.
By generating an advertisement that uses sexist stereotypes, Bushmaster Firearms is sending a problematic message to youth regarding what being masculine truly means. By no means does the advertisement attempt to convey the seriousness and responsibility of owning firearms. Instead, we may assume that Bushmaster Firearms is attempting to make monetary profit off of the male market. Additionally, the advertisement includes a second piece of text in which it states “If it’s good enough for the professional, it’s good enough for you.” The concept of having a number of amateur gun enthusiasts acquiring firearms that are used in professional settings gives a false sense of guaranteed skill to the users. This advertisement is not only distasteful to male stereotyping, but takes an immature stance on deadly products that have been the source of tragedy in the US on multiple occasions.
In the jammed version of the Bushmaster Firearms advertisement, I decided to alter the original text as well as add new words and phrases to the image. The tag line of the original advertisement was changed from “Consider your man card reissued” to “Consider your man card revoked.” Further, I had added another phrase stating “Reason for Decision: Threat to Public Safety” accompanied by faint text listing infamous mass shootings at the top and bottom of the advertisement. Lastly, I replaced the phrase “If it’s good enough for the professional, it’s good enough for you” with “For trained law enforcement use only.”
The goal of the jammed advertisement was to reverse the original’s attempt to exploit hypermasculinity and glorification of gun possession. By listing more than ten mass shootings that took place in the US, I aimed to trigger an emotional response from viewers in order to remind them of the dangers of commercial firearms in North America. Moreover, the revocation of the “man card” implies that posing a safety risk to the public is unbecoming of a man- insinuating that any type of gun violence will not be accepted by society. The idea of the “man card” can then be shifted from representing hypermasculinity to representing a legal symbol of freedom as a human being, in which it will be taken away if one were to cause mayhem to the general public. To reinforce this idea, I added a disclaimer adjacent to the Bushmaster Firearms logo, stating that these products are for law enforcement use only. The original advertisement attempted to use provoking sexist humour to appeal to a male audience; however, the jammed advertisement takes a much more serious and self-aware stance on gun possession and is presented to raise awareness of gun violence.
Bushmaster Firearms Advertisement. Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress,
10 Sept. 2019, https://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/12/gun-ads-bushmaster-mattel/