Chi-City Man, the Art of the Mack, and the Semiotics of Advertisement: Some Thoughts

See other posts in the "Evaluate the Mack" series.

First off, let me thank Andy for taking the general discourse of this blog in a very welcome direction. And what better place to begin than a discussion of Chi-City Man? Here are some musings, inspired by repeated viewings.

I find it curious that this video is not really advice on how to have a great mack, as much as it is an advertisement of Chi-City Man's own mack. In other words, the video in which he purports to give macking advice, is a mack in itself. One might call it the "mack" mack. The macking strategies he promulgates are self-evidently preposterous. A fridge full of drinks, "all the way to the back," as, "this ain't no front shit," is much more likely to inspire raised eyebrows and confusion than a rough and tumble sex rumpus. Chi-City Man is no fool. He is well aware of this absurdity, just as he realizes the lunacy of promoting his "Italian floor tiles" and "Egyptian" wastebin (I mean, are we really to believe that he's never seen a "chrome" trashcan?). The point here is to demonstrate confidence. If, in a video ostensibly directed towards fellow males, he displays this degree of aplomb, "you can only imagine," he implicitly coos to the theoretical woman viewer, "how sure I am of my sexual and romantic abilities." The weaknesses of the mack are transformed into strengths, and the mack scores. He wins additional points by convincing knuckleheads into actually practicing his beverage mack, thereby decreasing competition. Brilliance.
It is fitting that the video takes the essential generic form of the advertisement, as Chi-City Man, as interested in self-promotion as he is, also seems dedicated to the art of shameless product placement. The video is an endorsement for the entire beverage industry as a whole. The various "types" of women he alludes to, after all, come to encompass the entire drinking population of this country. I'm not entirely convinced this isn't a corporate ploy. If it is, it's ingeniously contrived. Note the first products that Chi-City Man demonstrates enthusiasm for: The Italian tiles, and the Egyptian wastebin. These products are clearly desirable for their foreign pedigree. He eschews name-brands for the mark of foreign, international distinction. Egypt is not, to my knowledge, famous for their trashcans, nor Italy for floor tiles. In this sense it could just as easily have been a Swedish blender or a Hungarian toaster oven. Chi-City Man, it would seem, is a man of cosmopolitan sensibilities, and that's all that matters. But no, therein lies the clever ruse. He proceeds to open his fridge, and barrage his viewers with product names. It is not a cherry cola, but a cherry coke. Not a fruit juce or tea, but Kool-Aid and Snapple. But we viewers have already become convinced of the fact that Chi-City Man is not some mindless consumer, taken in and bamboozled by brand-names and corporate advertising. Therefore, we don't object to the shameless promotion nearly as much as we should. And at that point, we've been had. What is the last piece of advice Chi-City Man gives us? In a cruel irony, he exhorts us to "get money" and "get paid." Guess what? He just did. Not only has Chi-City Man won, both romantically and monetarily, but some sinister beverage conglomerate has also profited. The only losers are male viewers, who cannot profit by his advice, aren't interested in sleeping with him, and have just been hoodwinked into watching a 7-minute commercial.

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