Monday, March 26, 2012

Madness and Mayhem in the Message

Nowadays, many if not most viewers tune in to the Super Bowl to see the commercials as much as the game. Does this tell you anything about how far we’ve dropped in our pursuit of entertainment?

Super Bowl aside, commercials in general are normally considered a nuisance—an opportune time to visit the facilities. But you can’t avoid all of them; can you? One specific commercial I have found especially annoying.

Have you seen the yogurt commercial wherein a man (actor John Stamos) and woman coquettishly share a dessert?  They innocently tease each other to see who is going to get the next spoonful. It’s half-heartedly romantic in its way.

But then it turns angrily violent as the woman fiercely delivers a head-butt to the man and knocks him to the floor. The man is cowered from that moment on, and the woman has the yogurt to herself.

All in good fun?

No, there’s a message beneath the surface here. That is, “It’s OK for a woman to physically attack a man.” I find that misleading and dangerous.

Maybe I was a cop too long and saw too many women brutalized, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m the father of four daughters, but I’ll go out of my way to ensure that I never buy that brand of yogurt.

Too begin with, I would never instruct my girls to physically confront a man. It’s more than foolish—it’s unsafe. It’s madness. Strike some of the men I’ve dealt with, and they’re likely to strike back. After all, the days of chivalry are supposedly gone, aren’t they?

According to the National Organization for Women (NOW) Web site, they’ve been “Taking action for women's equality since 1966.” And while I found no official stance taken by NOW against this particular commercial, I did find two statements on their blog, condemning the commercial for its trivialization of domestic abuse against men.
I have one piece of advice for young women concerning this silly portrayal of the battle between the sexes: Don’t do this! Don’t even fantasize it. A lot of men I’ve dealt with in my life would not cringe after an attack as that shown in the yogurt dramatization.

They would respond instinctively and swiftly. And who do you think would come out on the worst end of this?  Perhaps the commercial should have come with a disclaimer: Girls, don’t try this in real life!

Not every man is a Sir Galahad.   And no one—man nor woman—should be portrayed (especially comically) as a thug, using unprovoked force to get their way.

And isn’t that what the current anti-bullying campaign has as one of its goals?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Revisited

Did you guys make it through Valentine’s Day unscathed? It’s safe to look back now from a vantage point of a month.

If you asked Americans to complete the phrase, “Saint Valentine’s Day…” most would likely say “…massacre.” And isn’t it ironic that a day set aside for love is automatically referenced to a violent,  bloody, criminal deed—perhaps the most notorious in our country’s history.

Valentine’s Day is supposed to provoke affection, not anger. That’s why we spend so much time choosing just the right card—we want to make sure that the emotion expressed by the greeting card writer matches that of our own toward our loved one.

So wouldn’t it be better to just write a note of our own—one written from the heart? Our heart. We could tell our lover exactly how we feel. In our own words. That’s what we all should have all done that day; that day that illustrates our respect for and love of our special someone.

Of course, that would have been difficult for some to do, given their deficiency in writing skills. I mean, it could be challenging for them to string one coherent word onto another for forty or fifty straight words.

So that’s why God created Hallmark. We didn’t have to write one blessed thought to our beloved on that day, because someone who knows exactly how we feel did it for us. We only had to find out which card they put those thoughts into. That should have taken you only ten or fifteen minutes in the card store.

Well, maybe a few minutes more, all things considered. First you would have had to drive there, acquire a parking space, bustle through the aisle with the Valentine’s Day cards and find just the right picture on the front of the card (I have found that flower illustrations work best with my wife; puppies and kittens—not so much). And then you’d have to have stood alongside the other non-writers, hoping that you could find what you wanted quickly and cheaply enough.

Yes, cheaply enough. Now please don’t try to convince me that you didn’t turn the card over and check the price before you bought. It’s a standard rule of love and affection that you do not overpay for telling your sweetheart how much she means to you.

After all, wouldn’t a thoughtful woman appreciate that?

Think about that for next year. That is, if there hasn’t been another Saint Valentine’s Day massacre to your relationship.

Al Capone would appreciate the sentiment.