Yesterday we visited some friends to watch the Super Bowl. We don’t have a television in our house because 1) we don’t trust our self-discipline to keep from watching it too much; and because 2) there is an immense amount of garbage on the television.
Three years ago there was a major outcry when the Super Bowl half time show featured the infamous “wardrobe malfunction”, in which a bare breast was momentarily visible on the screen. It was noted that watching the Super Bowl has become a big time family event in America, and consequently there were millions of children watching this tasteless exposure of the human anatomy. I didn’t see that incident, but I agreed that this was yet another indication of the garbage that is so abundant on t.v.
Yesterday, however there were a couple of Budweiser Beer commercials that offended me as a parent more than the wardrobe malfunction, and as far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any resulting outrage. I heard that companies paid as much as two and a half million dollars in order to air a thirty second commercial. So apparently Budweiser spent that kind of money in order to show the following: two young men are at an outdoor picnic, and both simultaneously reach for the last bottle of beer in a cooler. There is tension, but one of them suggests they resolve the conflict by playing a round of “rock, paper, scissors”, which they proceed to do, with the culmination being one of the two throws a rock the size of a softball into the forehead of the other, knocking him out cold. Whereupon the victor takes the remaining beer for himself, making a comment about how it was worth it.
Budweiser’s other offending commercial consisted entirely of a series of people slapping one another in the face.
Apparently Budweiser thought they could sell their beer by making the association in peoples’ minds between beer drinking with the fun times to be had practicing violence. (Sadly, inebriation and violence is an association made in all too many American homes — an association it seems the beer companies would want to stay clear from.)
I can’t help but think that any parents out there trying to teach their children the concept of “impulse control” must have wondered to themselves, as I did, “This is supposed to be funny?” After Saddam Hussein’s hanging appeared on the internet, a couple of children died when they figured they’d try out the unusual use of a rope that they had seen demonstrated on their computer screen.
Next time there is a dispute over who gets to play with the video game, I hope there aren’t any rocks handy.
I don’t think we’ll be in a hurry to go out and get a television.