I suppose I should be happier about what took over the television last night.
First, I’m from New England, and though I have never been a huge NFL aficionado, I root for the Patriots and am pleased that they won. So let’s get that out of the way.
And like many a good New England liberal I’m a dyed-in-the-wool feminist as well. I loathe gender roles! I oppose the exploitation of the female body (and the male body too, though that makes it more difficult to enjoy football)! I believe in emotional and behavioral freedom for both men and women! Yippee!
So last night we saw a very different tone in our Super Bowl ads. An insurance company solemnly urged parents to look out for their kids and avoid childhood death by preventable accident. Two car companies gave parenting advice to Dads that boiled down to “be present and have an emotion once in a while”.
A nebulous foundation aired an anti-domestic-violence PSA that didn’t really give any suggestions for preventing men’s violence against women. Do we really still need awareness of domestic violence in 2015, when we have known for decades that the highest rates of domestic violence take place – you guessed it – on the day of the Super Bowl?
A feminine hygiene company showed little girls being proud of doing things “#LikeAGirl”, a mindset I’ve been advocating since long before hashtags were created. I suppose I should be happy.
But I didn’t tear up, and I didn’t stand up and cheer, and I certainly didn’t learn anything about myself or have my mind changed by such socially conscious commercials. Instead, I felt like this:
I'm not sure moralism is a good color on you, Super Bowl.
— Margaret Felice (@margaretfelice) February 2, 2015
Maybe moralism isn’t quite the right word, but I can’t have been the only person who was a wee bit put out by being told what I already know by companies who can afford to pay millions for a few moments and have decided that our current consumer climate demands feel-good, moderately- thoughtful, family-oriented themes in order to sell their product.
In the end, it’s all a marketing decision, built up throughout the year by a multi-billion dollar non-profit with whole host of its own moral issues. I know better than to think businesses have morality, and I know that by watching and commenting I have some culpability in the system.
I didn’t have to watch a long line of porn-culture-sells spots. But instead I saw something more precious and real being sold to me, and I never expected to feel just as violated by it.
Last night’s offering prompted conversation, and it brought some of the issues I find desperately important out into the light. But I know (and I’m sure you do too) that we can never count on the money-makers to save us. We can use their business decisions as a springboard for what we want to do or say, but they will never be our allies. They are trying to sell us things, and we are trying to change the world, and all the while we are still watching, even if we’re not buying it.
Did you watch last night? Which messages stuck with you from the Super Bowl?
Edited with clarification: the bit about Super Bowl Sunday being a hotbed of domestic violence calls has long been discredited. I hate to perpetuate an urban legend.
You know, I kinda feel the same way. Good messages, but at the heart, they are still trying to sell you more crap. I felt that way with the coca-cola ad. It obviously hit a soft spot for me, but then when that infamous red logo came up at the end it’s like, “How is coke going to make people nicer?” Uh…it’s not! I feel the same way with the like a girl ad, these companies want recognition for being “feminist” but they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it would boost sales.
Anyhow, great post. I feel ya!
PS: Hope you are feeling better, I’ve kept you in my prayers!
Margaret Felice says
I completely forgot about the ridiculous Coke ad too. There was so much faux feel-good I couldn’t keep it all straight. Your prayers are appreciated, my love!
claire bangasser says
Away from the US at the moment. I was spared the whole event… xoxo
Margaret Felice says
That sounds nice!
I wish they would recognize the Super Bowl is a family event… My kids fell asleep… But I have many friends whose kids were riveted by the insurance commercial and it was scary … I agree on a whole that the commercials were better but I am grateful my three kids can’t stay awake so they aren’t asking about the toppled over tv !
Margaret Felice says
I have heard a lot of comments about that ad which pointed out that kids were freaked out by it – I never would have thought of that. The whole spot was totally tone-deaf.
Kathleen Basi says
I didn’t really watch, but the little I saw I mostly went, “What does ____ have to do with (company name/product)?” So yes, I felt it too, although you put words on it when I just rolled my eyes and walked away.