This commercial for the Fiat car was produced in 2012. Charlie Sheen – fresh off of some legal run-ins and a high-profile drug-induced meltdown – plays up his long-standing bad-boy image by driving his Fiat through a house party. He proves irresistible to an admiring crowd, composed mostly of seductively dressed women. At the time of this filming, Sheen was nearly 50 years old, but the ad depicts him as able to attract beautiful women through his bad-boy antics, much as he did when he was a younger man.
Should we celebrate the fact that older men are often depicted in media as vibrant and attractive? Why or why not? Is the “bad boy image” in Hollywood more accepted for an older man than a “bad girl image” is for an older woman? In what ways is this reflected in media?
The depiction of Charlie Sheen in this ad might be critiqued for perpetuating a double standard with respect to media’s depiction of older men and women. Sheen’s history of drug use, legal troubles and wild antics are parlayed by the producers of the ad into a hip bad-boy persona. It is hard to imagine that a female actress – particularly one who was not in her 20s or early 30s – who went through a similar public embarrassment would be celebrated in the same way. More likely, she would find it difficult to find work at all, thus exposing a problematic industry attitude that reflects broader societal trends in how women and men are treated differently.