Thursday, February 7, 2013
Show of hands: Who watched the Super Bowl? OK, next show of hands: Who watched the Super Bowl commercials? *raises hands* We definitely did.
Any favorites? These are a couple of ours:
Budweiser's Baby Clydesdale
Amy Poehler for Best Buy
But along with the good, there was also the... problematic. For example:
Audi's "Seize the Moment"
On first glance, this seems like a pretty cute, harmless story, right? A Young Adult story, even. And it's one we've seen a hundred times. The poor guy just needs something to boost his confidence and go after what he wants. What's the big deal?
Well, what he wants is a girl.
Yeeeeeah. See, the girl is a person too, but the commercial doesn't treat her as such. It treats her as an object to be had. And though the "hero" does suffer some consequences for taking what isn't his, it's the girl's boyfriend who gives him a black eye. Because, you know, she belongs to him. Like property.
Note to all writers -- in YA, adult lit, advertising, wherever: DO NOT DO THIS. Whether male or female, it is not cool to treat people like things, not even like desirable "prizes." It's demeaning, first and foremost. It's also just lazy writing.
How much cooler would it have been if the girl stood up for herself? (Not that we advocate violence...) How much more interesting would it be if the girl secretly liked the "hero" too, and drove off with him in the Audi? Or hey, maybe she wanted a snazzy new car, so she decks him and then drives off in the Audi alone.
There are a world of possibilities when you take her character into account as a fully realized person. All of them are more complex and compelling than what we saw.
* * *
Since we're talking about problematic commercials anyway, here are two more that garnered a lot of reaction on Sunday night:
Dodge Ram's "So God Made a Farmer"
It's a great tribute, and speaks to the values of hard work and wholesomeness that our society reveres. It's also beautifully made. But our friends at Teen Librarian Toolbox wrote a good post about some of the issues with current farming processes. Doesn't mean there's anything "wrong" with the commercial, but it's an important reminder that sometimes there's more to the story.
VW's "Get In, Get Happy"
This "happy-go-lucky" ad had a lot of people scratching their heads. Is this racist? Some people think so. Jamaica, however, does not. Who's right? Who knows.
It's worth thinking about all of these commercials and the issues they raise, though. It's worth thinking about what we're saying in the stories we're telling.
* * *
What do y'all think? Did you like these? Were you offended? What were your favorite ads from the Super Bowl?
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