Friday, February 9, 2018

A Microcosm of Modern America

Ever see this commercial? If not, give it a quick watch.

What did you see? I suppose that depends upon your degree of proclivity towards moral umbrage. I really liked the song and went looking online to see if I could find the name of it so that I could buy it. This was what I found instead:

"I would like Verizon management to review a Fios Quantum TV ad where a pre-pubescent girl is fetishized with red nail polish, red lipstick, 'Lolita' type sunglasses, and a bikini, to look as though she's twenty-five. The child is barely ten years old. Do you believe that masquerading a pre-pubscent child in the trappings of adulthood to market a product is okay?

In this moment of cultural awareness, WOMEN are speaking out about being preyed upon sexually — and Verizon management's approval of the overt-sexualization of this child must be understood for what it is —'bait'.  When a young girl is 'fetishized' as a means to signify 'DESIRE' it is offensive.

Your ad has struck such a negative chord in me, that every time I see it, I become angrier.

Women do not want to see their children objectified in advertising.

Verizon (Fios Quantum) does a disservice to our intelligence by continuing to run this ad."

My first thought was, "Wait...what?" I was so lost because I didn't see any of that in the ad. And yet, the further along I scrolled upon the page, the more indignant commentary I encountered:

"The current FIOS ad depicting a young girl as an object of sexual desire is repulsive on its merits, and doubly so given the current social climate.  Objectifying a prepubescent girl for the sole purpose of promoting your products is blatant exploitation.  The national conversation concerning the behavior of Roy Moore should have been enough for your executives to reject this ad campaign as tasteless and inappropriate.  We are FIOS customers and are very disturbed by your choice of subject material."

Then, out of the ether, voices of reason:

"No we aren’t. She’s a girl in a swimsuit in a pool. I came to look for the song."

"You have got to be kidding, I see a young girl floating around in a pool and dont see anything wrong with it and you see something sexual lolololol. So I guess every young girl around a swimming pool with a swim suit on is wrong in your eyes? This thread is unreal and just plain stupid."

Now, to this point, I began to view the thread as merely a dichotomy of perspectives--two sides that reached drastically different conclusions about the same objective material. I respect people's inherent right to think for themselves (when they do) and to express the viewpoints they have reached through their own internal decision-making processes...

...but then I got to these two comments:

"Agree that this is a terrible commercial.  It sexualizes a young child to look like Lolita.  Why don't more people complain?  This is a pedophile's dream.  I hate it.  Fios should be ashamed as well as the advertising firm that produced it."

"Absolutely appalled by the audacity of this company.  Continuing with this disturbing ad.  After the backlash from your own customers over this commercial you choose to continue running it.  So this ad isn't meant to sell us a product as much as an idea?  One too disturbing for this dad.  I'm leaving verizon and encouraging others to the same." 

There, in those two admissions of abject horror, lies a microcosm of everything that is wrong with our country right now and the reason that we are so utterly separated as a nation. People walk around agog with their mouths open asking how the hell we got to be in the position that we are in--how people could elect someone like Donald Trump into office.


It's because of shit like the above! For the past fifteen years at least, there has been this growing sense of moral indignation and entitlement among people (mostly of liberal sociopolitical leanings). This, consequently, has led to ever more boisterous, vociferous voicings of complaints about, well, everything!

Somewhere during the last two decades people stopped being capable of accepting the fact that, just because they don't like something, a massive change is warranted. Far too many people cannot simply be in disagreement with something--or even just to hold it in disdain and derision. No--whatever the object of their opprobrium is, it must change simply and solely because THEY are offended by it.

Look at the first of those final two comments. That question that's asked--"Why don't more people complain?"--is EXACTLY why Donald Trump got elected. TOO many people complain! About anything and everything!

So many conservative Americans have endured an unending barrage of bellyaching at the hands of their liberal brothers and sisters--a never-ending stream of complaints about everything from the environment and global warming to gender and racial rights. It's not enough for those individuals to be upset with something--they have to force their viewpoints upon everyone else. Their outrage is at once palpable and puerile.

I ask, instead: Why don't FEWER people complain?

When did we suddenly become so ridiculously thin-skinned? I thought that we were pretty damn tough, as a people, and yet, time and again, the village idiots become the town criers, prattling on about whatever latest thing has "offended" them. Isn't it said that when everything is offensive then nothing is?

How about the guy in the second quotation?

"I'm leaving verizon and encouraging others to do the same."

Seriously? Over a fucking advertisement?

And yet, this speaks precisely to what really serves as the underlying, subconscious core of the issue: our collective lack of self-esteem and skewed perception of value. I explored this issue back in 2015, somewhat satirically, but the point remains the same: people have lost sight of things that truly matter and no longer pursue things that provide actual fulfillment in their lives. They'd rather chase the ephemeral, evanescent serotonin squirts they get from social media and the safety and comfort of like-minded people than actually go out and improve themselves--challenge themselves, risk failure--engage in activities of meaning.

The guy who is leaving Verizon is sending a tacit message of superiority--one that is echoed, unconsciously, by millions of people in millions of way every day. What he's really saying is this: "This [the ad] is morally objectionable and I, being a being of higher moral value and more discerning taste, cannot allow myself to be dragged through this societal mud and must instead adhere to my strict code of ethics that elevates me above the rest of the swine [who, in this case, enjoy the ad or don't find anything wrong with it]."

In other words: if you don't leave Verizon then you're a terrible person and, because this guy IS leaving, it somehow makes him better than you [and everyone else who chooses a different path].

Here's the problem with occupying the moral high ground when it's as rocky and unstable as this: you risk falling and looking damn foolish when you start dancing around, drawing attention to how noble you are.

This moral knight is making a stand with this Verizon ad but I'll be you anything that he breaks a hundred ethical codes every day either without realizing or it choosing to ignore them. People like this forget that they're human and thus fallible. They think nothing of judging the shit out of something inane and innocuous like a television ad and then ignoring the very real rules and regulations that comprise our society. Do you think this guy holds the door for people at the store? Does he stop several feet BEFORE every stop sign he comes to? And uses his turn signal every time?

Probably not.

And therein lies the rub: this selective morality. The moral fabric of our society has become more of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel rather than a verifiable codex laden with absolute terms. People think nothing of reaching conclusions without engaging in any hermeneutical analysis--forgetting that theirs isn't the only viewpoint nor is it necessarily the right or defensible one.

Me? I see a precocious tween attempt to effect adulthood has she sees it (as evidenced by the macaroons where most kids that age would be wolfing down Oreos and the like). She is attempting to appear older than she actually is--thus her expression of disgust for her younger brother, who, clearly, has no trouble embracing his youth.

Or, as another contributor put it:

"I think she's a cute kid trying to look and act all grown up as she shows disdain for her childish younger brother."

Just because you're offended by something doesn't make you right! Not only that--just because you're offended, it doesn't mean that anything needs to change. Only when people save their outrage for matters of true import will we begin to bridge the gap that exists between the two American factions. Until then, we will remain a nation divided--crippled by the sniveling drivel of those who cannot bear to use their analytical energy to examine themselves critically rather than to find ways to force society to change to fit into their very narrow views of how the world should be.