Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Super Bowl Ads


I started this post shortly after the Superbowl, and found it the other day. I am upset with myself I never finished nor posted it....till now....., July 10, 2007


Of course, one of the big draws of the Superbowl, especially for those of us who are casual football fans, or whose favorite team did not reach the game, is the new advertisements that are released for the Superbowl. This year, although as usual, I did not watch closely, I noticed a disturbing trend in the ads. I thought they were distasteful, exploitative, violent. Monday morning, there was a column in the New York Times about the nature and tenor of the ads. The column suggests that the ads reflect the war, and comments about the Coca Cola Hilltop ad, that wanted to "teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony," which was a response to war. But, the message was not anti-war this time; I think the author, Stuart Eliot, is saying that the violence in the ads was a way of condoning the war, or at least the violence was a reflection of the turbulence and violence in our society.. He writes that the ads are not patriotic, but they may reflect the toll of war. I am not so sure I agree with him...

I do not think we can blame the violence and disrespect in the ads on the war. I think we can blame the violence and disrespect of the military on the same thing on which we can blame the violence and disrespect of the advertising community. the lack of good moral values and good moral leadership.

I am not a fan of any Bush administration. But during the administration of George H. Bush, (Bush 1, as the news media likes to refer to him) I believe Operation Desert Storm had a goal and a plan. I believe the leadership had an understanding of respect for human life, and respected the values of the citizens of the countries involved. (I think of how much was made of "educating" the troops about the Arab culture, the taboos of women in public, the taboos against alcohol, for example, in Desert Storm. It would appear, this time around, the local culture was snubbed and violated, not respected.) War is violent, and violent deeds were done. But I think the atrocities were minimal. And, the war did not demolish the structure and fiber of a country, leaving chaos behind...

Not so this time, under the leadership of George W. Bush. There is no moral compass, no moral leadership. The war actions, from the beginning, have been fraught with atrocious and criminal behaviors

Which brings me back to the nature and tenor of the Superbowl ads. We accept violence when we become desensitized to it, when we do not speak out against it. Making violence funny makes it less meaningful, and less dangerous, more acceptable.

I remember a Star Trek that found a society that was waging a very long war. People were taught that when their time was up, they just turned themselves in. The pain and anguish of war was eliminated. Captain Kirk made them return to the pain and anguish of war, because THAT is the true motivation to stop war.

Okay, so were these ads a message about violence, and the need to stop it? No, these ads made violence and disrespect cute, fun. These were not anti-war messages, but, in my mind, they were condone violence messages. They made me uncomfortable, to think that main stream America thinks violence is funny...

Maybe I see too much hate and violence, self mutilation and self loathing to think violence is funny. I know that many of the patients I deal with every day in a prison grew up in a world of violence, chaos, lack of social order. So, for them, established authority is not to be trusted. Taking matters into their own hands is the only rule they trust. Violence is taking matters into one's own hands, instead of following the rules of society.

I work hard, everyday, to convince convicted felons that following the rules because they are the rules, is an important way of taking self control and feeling good about fitting into society: Not worrying about the consequences of doing something wrong; not worrying about getting caught, not always having to be vigilant for the authorities. Doing right because it is the right thing to do. I just do not see violence as the right thing to do.

I still do not see violence as the right thing to do, months after the Superbowl.. I do not recall the specific advertisements, but I know many of them did not stay with us, for which, I am thankful... Maybe we are a smarter public than advertisers and spin doctors give us credit for being.

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