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?

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