Sex, advertising, and mass shooters

Bill Maher makes the case that many of the mass shooters are frustrated young men who feel that they are being excluded from all the rampant sexual activity that is going on all around them. They feel that this is totally unfair and strike out in anger and commit acts of random violence.

This is no doubt the kind of pop psychology that Maher regularly indulges in and one would want to not place too much faith in his claims. But what interested me in in this clip was that he showed examples of advertising for all manner of mundane products that are so sexually suggestive.

Here is Maher’s clip. The relevant part starts at around the 1:55 minute mark.

Since I do not watch TV, I was surprised by the advertisements. They seem to be remarkably hypersexual, much more so than I can remember when I used to be a regular TV watcher. Maybe readers can tell me if they are as common these days as Maher seems to suggest.


  1. Cuttlefish says

    So, after two homophobic “jokes”, Maher introduces the shooters by basically calling them unmanly, then points to advertisements as to blame for propping up a toxic hyper-heterosexuality. And while our American ads are criticized for showing too much flesh, he simultaneously blames too *little* flesh-showing for the frustrations of the islamists. Maher is a real piece of work.

    I had seen the Carl’s Junior ad before, but none of the others. There absolutely are ads using sex to sell, and relatively unimaginatively so, but they are not as ubiquitous as Maher suggests. Well, maybe they are, on the media he consumes, if he watches stuff that agrees with his worldview.

  2. Oliver Davies says

    #1 -- I wish FTB had a way of just liking comments, aside from commenting that you like them.

  3. Holms says

    Ugh, Maher. Even when making a fragment of a good observation he cannot help but be a smug wanker.

  4. says

    Bill Maher is food for the tone-trolling anti-atheists who want to characterize us as “smug” and “wankers”.
    Of course we’re not all like Maher. But I gotta admit I want a nice wide rift between the two of us.

  5. MarkDF says

    There’s definitely a good point underlying Bill Maher’s mediocre schtick. Modern media aggressively fuels young men’s sense of entitlement towards women.

  6. Robert,+not+Bob says

    Not just advertising-many other media as well. TV shows especially. I’ve always suspected-no data unfortunately-that there’s a lot less sex actually happening than people are led to believe, especially in the college environment. It’s probably something like 5% of the guys having sex with 10% of the girls (among straight students).

  7. lorn says

    Despite the flippant and crass presentation he has a point. Men surfacing their sexual frustration as anger and violence is indeed a thing. Celibacy is commonly used by religious orders to increase passions that might then be redirected into religious fervor. And it isn’t any great leap from eighteen hour a day prayer sessions kneeling on a cold floor to becoming a suicide bomber. The more you do of the former the more reasonable the second seems.

    ISIS has used the potent mix of sexual frustration driven passion on the battlefield and rape of captured women as reward for success. Some gladiators in ancient Rome were worked through a similar system. Fighting and dying to get laid is something of a theme.

    I really doubt Maher is much of a homophobe. Subtle as it may be he is clearly making fun of your average Fantasy Football players homophobia. If you play Fantasy Football and are not a homophobe the joke has no effect. It is actually pretty funny. I don’t play but I showed this clip to someone who does and he laughed and admitted it was a bit odd that they spent so much time thinking about young, fit guys. He isn’t a homophobe either. It is almost as if Maher has a something of a point.

  8. moarscienceplz says

    First off, Maher is an anti-vaxxer, so any theory he has developed is probably wrong. Second, yes ads do look like that, but when I was a teenager back in the 70s, Playboy, Penthouse, Oui, Hustler, and such were easily obtained by minors and freely shared, not to mention stories we all heard of “Swinging Single Only apartment buildings” and such, so the idea that a successful man could always get lots of nookie is nothing new. I think Maher is full of it this time, as he so often is.

  9. tkreacher says

    Robert,+not+Bob #6

    It’s probably something like 5% of the guys having sex with 10% of the girls (among straight students).

    You’re joking, right?

  10. Robert,+not+Bob says

    @#9: Not joking, no (exaggerating a bit, yes). The point is I’ve always had the impression that there’s a lot less sex going on than many young people have been led to expect. Most young men, especially, get nothin’, most of the time (biology, y’know). A kid who’s a bit isolated and still immature might get the idea he’s been left out of what everyone else has, not knowing he’s got lots of company (of both sexes).

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