Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beyond the Soap Box

Let me try to create a scene for you...it’s the latest Nicholas Sparks movie staring Ryan Gosling. He’s kind of a normal but dorky senior in high school. A little shy, a little quiet but good natured and a generally good kid. He is hopelessly in love with the prom queen. She is gorgeous, self assured, they have been going to school together his whole life and he has always tried to get close to her. Often failing in awkward exchanges or missed opportunities  As the story and music start to swell it cuts to prom. Ryan has decided to go by himself because his friends convince him you can’t miss out on this high school milestone pinning over someone who doesn't know you exist  While at prom, he decides to go for...show the girl what he really feels and he marches up and grabs her in an embrace and passionately kisses her in front of the whole school and her boyfriend.

Oh if it was a blockbuster so many of you would be eating it up...so romantic! Swoon! In my twitter stream and all over the internet on Monday I saw more than one reference to this same scenario played out in an Audi commercial referred to as sexual assault and condoning rape.

Can you see me shaking my head in confusion?

Dead Air
Photo Credit

See ladies you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say your not buying it and it’s horrible in an ad but eat it up on the screen or in a book, no matter who the star is (and for the record I don’t get the Ryan Gosling thing at. all. ).  They’re all selling you something.

As is usual the day after the Superbowl the internet is all lit up with commentary and opinion on the good, the bad and the ugly of the commercials. Mom bloggers are up in arms about how horrible the commercials are and how they are damaging their children. How 50% of the audience is female, how this is a family program and we should be able to watch it as a family.

Here’s the thing, You can, and you as a parent have more power over your children and what they see than advertisers, no matter how much they paid for those 30 seconds. See my husband and I love football. We watch it all season, multiple games both NFL and College. We also fiercely love our kids and protect them a lot from images and things that are inappropriate   My older two watched a quarter of the Superbowl with us and they didn't see any of those commercials that your complaining about.

Not one.

We don’t have a DVR, in fact we don’t even have cable. Just a 10 year old tube TV and broadcast antenna but we are ACTIVE watchers. We do not leave our kids unattended when a game is on, in fact we even sometimes skip the game we want to watch because it’s on CBS (as opposed to Fox or NBC) because of it’s notoriously lewd commercials for it’sown shows. We don’t watch football cuddled up on the couch or with a book or laptop. We watch it with remote in hand, or standing up. We censor 90% of the commercials that are played. We don’t watch them period.

We turn off the screen on the TV, stand in front of it or change the channel. Our kids know that means what is being shown is not for them. If we do watch commercials, we talk about them. A few years ago Chevy had a commercial for one of it’s sports cars that showed a kid dreamily looking out the classroom window and imagining himself driving the car. The car flew, and did impossible things. My son loves cars, he of course loved the commercial. We talked about how they are trying to sell him the car so they are trying to make it look cool and special. He now reminds his sister that commercials aren't real and they are trying to get your money.

It’s about being educated consumers  not just reactionary and angry.

Hashtags and blog posts have their place  The discussion has to happen and things do need to change. But right now, this is the world we have and I am raising my child in THIS WORLD. It’s my responsibility as a parent not to just shout about all that is wrong with this world, but to protect them from it now and educate them for later.

You want to make a change? Talk with your wallet, and I’m not just talking about switching your $2 domain from GoDaddy, or not buying an Audi or Kia.

Turn them off.

Stop paying hundreds of dollars a month to allow this programming that you loathe so much into your house. If they don’t have anyone to advertise to, they will have to change their tactics. Right now even without you spending a dime on any of these companies they are getting more than their money’s worth form the 30 second spot because it has everyone and their neighbor on the internet talking about, them tweeting them, giving them more free advertising. How many people have gone back and watched the ads on Youtube because of all the controversy on twitter?

I don’t disagree that change is needed, but it won’t be done exclusively on a soapbox or with the largest megaphone. It will be done quietly in one home after another where we turn it off, refuse to expose our children to it and silence their voice an power.

I'm not buying it either, but I’m also not feeding the source.


jennydecki said...


We are an antenna family, too. My kids watched the Superbowl and the commercials that were there because I've been teaching my kids about commercials and marketing since before they could understand what it was.

I was horrified when I heard that Time-Life picture of the "just came home" serviceman was a drunk guy planting one on a random nurse who was a total stranger. I thought it was gross.

My kids are learning the difference between "real" and "not real" and things that are okay in the land of "not real" are not okay in the land of "real" ... stories are stories and commercials are just little stories trying to pack a big punch.

Summary: OMG Me Too! LOL

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Thank you for standing up and talking about responsible parenting. I'm not saying the ladies on their soapboxes aren't responsible parents in general, but to blame advertisers for what their children see is to pass the buck.

For one, everyone KNOWS the Superbowl is notorious for ads involving sex and beer. I'm surprised people keep calling it a "family event" when it has never pretended to be so. Clearly, the target audience is not 5 year olds.

Furthermore, it's aired at night, when presumably children are in bed, thus FCC regulations of content become more lax.

Moreover, people complaining about how an ad will scar their child for life quite mistake the issue. One 30-second ad is highly unlikely to affect a child longer than it takes to ask a question born of curiosity. What is far more likely to affect children is what is taught long-term and repeatedly in the home. How parents SHOW their children to behave. Sheltering them from ever seeing any situation you disagree with does not give a child guidance in dealing with it. One must demonstrate what love & respect for another person means on a daily basis. Not to mention, young children simply don't see and understand adult concepts the way adults do, so the "impression" their impressionable mind got from that 30-second ad is unlikely to be the same an adult got. Children are guided at least as much by our responses to the situations life presents us with as they are to the events themselves.

SkyMommy said...

I couldn't agree more. We don't pay for cable, never have, never plan to. We also vote with our wallet and our mouths. If a company treats us well not only will we frequently purchase from them but we'll tell all our friends. The same goes if a company is especially bad, only of course the opposite.

Toni said...

I'm not a TV watcher. Matter of fact, I could give away every tv in my house and be totally fine with it. Although, my son & husband ARE. Let me say that I HATE HATE HATE paying a cable bill...but if there is anything I DO like about it, is that we NEVER watch commercials. My son records what he wants to watch, my husband gets through a football game in 1/3rd of the time and I will ONLY sit down to watch a show if it's already recorded. I pretty much hate tv in general, so I can't even take a stance on if one thing is better than the other. lol

Guavalicious said...

You make a lot of great points. While I do think it is fair and valid to criticize companies for sexist and outlandish advertising, ultimately the responsibility lies with us as parents. I've taught my kids from a young age that commercials exist to sell you things.

Unknown said...

Best thing about cable is ffwd-ing through commercials. But it's a huge price to pay every month.