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 soJamaica, 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?


chihuahuazero said...

Thinking about it, it would've been a cool twist if the prom queen ditched both boys and went off with the car.

Violent, but hey, Super Bowl commercials are all about the twists.

On another note, I sure did love the Oreo one with the library.

Mary @ BookSwarm said...

The Clydesdale commercial made me tear up. I'm a sucker for a good/reunited story.

I do agree about the prom ad but the VW ad? I think people go a bit too far in their efforts to be PC. It was cute. It wasn't meant to be offensive and, the way that it was done with such a happy-go-lucky way that almost praises the Jamaican way of living, I want to say it wasn't racist. However, I can see how others might object. Me? I liked it. (didn't was a little odd)

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I love the idea of the girl going off in the Audi alone-that would have been so cool! Loved Amy Poehler at Best Buy and the Oreo in the library (the creme *is* the best part!)

Lauren said...

Ooh! I would have loved to see the girl drive off in the Audi too! So many of the commercials totally missed the mark for me. Great post!

Kristan said...

Glad people like my ending! Perhaps we should petition Audi? ;P

That's 2 votes for the Oreo one! It did make me smile too.

Exactly. I even feel that way about the Audi ad, to a degree. I understand what they meant, and I don't think it's the worst or most anti-feminist thing in the world. But there was a lot of outrage on Twitter, and it featured "YA" characters, so I thought it was worth discussing. :)

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