Friday, October 28, 2011

Morality vs Bulk Sale

Imagine yourself back in the 50's. You're watching a child on TV who reads a sign and does what it says, only to see someone else walk past him and ignore the sign. You know that within minutes the second child will get their comeuppance and the first child will be vindicated and rewarded.

Now, that scenario is in a commercial advertising Reeses, Snickers and Butterfinger candies. The second child walks off with a wad of candy after smugly telling the conflicted "good" child that "I can't read" (after being told exactly what the sign says, negating that argument). The "good" child stands there looking like a chump and we're told to buy in bulk because this is the way things are. Embedded in it is the stereotype smart girl over the dumb boy that we see a lot in recent years to depict female empowerment to a young audience (though as an issue of superiority rather than equality, arguably negating any social benefits).

Not that long ago, another commercial, this one from McDonalds, depicted kid in the back of a car being handed their Happy Meal boxes and being told to wait till they get home. There is a cartoon-style slew of eating noises as the children promptly disobey their parent. He turns around and with a surprised smile lets it go as if a cute smile negates parental authority.

I've seen dozens of these in recent years, promoting disrespect of parents, disrespect of elders, violence against people who've done such crimes as wearing clothes that aren't fashionable, massive overeating, sexual suggestiveness, and drug use, all in the name of selling products to children. Occasionally these are boycotted, but often enough, like this instance, they are ignored.

It is not the job of government to censor this. Nor does it mean you turn off the TV and keep your child sheltered from society. What you do, however, need to do is sit with your child while they watch TV. If you aren't there, the TV is off, or limited to DVD's you've approved. This allows you to be there and tell them "this is wrong". It also means you can keep in mind who felt the need to indoctrinate your children towards bad behavior, and not take your children there. If, after these sorts of commercials, sales drop from offended parents, then the commercials will change. If instead, they get nasty letters and sales increase, the ads will continue. Government censorship is not the answer, but you don't have any obligation to pay someone to push a viewpoint you disagree with.

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