Posts from — February 2008
Not having watched commercial TV in ages I hadn’t yet seen any election ads until today. To be honest I feel like screaming anytime one of the gentle-voiced NPR’ers talks about one candidate’s advantage over the other in terms of the NUMBER OF ADVERTISEMENTS they’ve been able to buy. What are we choosing here, a can of soup?
But I guess this is the sorry state of our democracy and I applaud Obama for taking the high road with a thoughtful, to the point message. You can see both ads – and the clear contrast between them – over at the really cool Moue Magazine.
All I can say about Clinton is “Yikes!” Her ad borrows from those old “It’s the middle of the night, do you know where your kids are” public service “freak-the-parents-into-responsibility” messages. I guess she’s trying to scare the crap out of Texans into voting for her out of a sense of their own protection.
It’s really ridiculous.
Isn’t eight years of a president scaring the folk into supporting his policies enough? Is this how she plans to govern, too? Does she not see Obama streaking past her in the polls sounding like FDR?
Clearly she doesn’t get it. We could argue about her support for the war (she supported it), whether she was for NAFTA before (apparently) being against it when barnstorming the Rust Belt, etc. etc. What really worries me most is the choices she’s making in her election strategy, which show unbelievably poor judgment. Like this Texas advertisement. Like whining about being asked tough questions. Like mocking the concept of “hope” and change. Frank Rich in the NY Times last Sunday had a devastating article that really exposed her many campaign errors, and it was eye-opening and disturbing. Among the many accusations was this bullet:
I really don’t believe she’d be a good president. The more I learn about her the more I really do hope Obama wins this thing.
Got some interesting comments and reactions to my post the other day on Ralph Nader (Progressives (ought to) Love Ralph Nader). One email essentially said:
I understand the sentiment and I know where it comes from: A deep revulsion from seven years of Bush. Who could find fault with that? And I know many on the Left blame Nader for 2000 (incorrectly, but that’s for another time – although they seem to forget that Ralph ran in 2004 with no impact whatsoever).
But I still strongly support Nader’s candidacy, and not because I want him to win anything. It’s because without him there will be no mention of the major contemporary progressive causes that only he will raise. I heard him on NPR and we got real issues in a public forum for 30 minutes. We know what happens after the primaries are over – Democrats pull to the “center” and drop the working class hero rhetoric. We’ll be back to media stories about “fuzzy math” and “flip-flops” – coverage for three year olds.
As for who Ralph “helps” – I understand this sentiment too. No, he won’t be helpful to the Democrats, and I suppose this is a reasonable concern. But who he helps is clear: He helps my kids whose teeth and bones are blasted with Strontium 90 from the nuclear plant downwind (no Dem is talking about the nuclear energy danger); he helps my family members who are going bust fighting a medical condition (no Dem is talking Universal Health Care); he helps all of us who pay taxes for the astronomical military budget/corporate welfare state (no Dem dares to talk about military spending); he helps all of us by insisting that Bush/Cheney get brought up on legitimate charges under impeachment proceedings (again, no Dem is calling for impeachment)…I could go on. And on.
I’m also surprised at the criticism Ralph gets for being selfish, egotistical, or for not being pushed by the media. I’ve had friends who say “where’s he been? I never see him on cable news” as if he can just call up Rupert Murdoch and demand to be interviewed. It’s not as if he’s decided to stay away; they essentially shut him out, which is not suprising since he is the most eloquent and effect spokesperson against runaway, unchecked corporate power we’ve got. The only time he gets mentioned are these moments when he enters the race. And often the coverage is about his “egocentricity” for daring to run, or how he will impact the horse race. The disdain for the man is really bizzare. But let’s face it, this happens to anyone who rocks the boat. My favorite quote in all literature:
When the history of our times gets written Ralph Nader will stand tall, which is what always happens after the great agitators have gone. In the meantime, as I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, I’ll be supporting Obama. I say let Ralph raise his issues and keep them in the public debate. Then go vote for a Democrat.
If I could change any one thing, I would…
Keep corporate entertainment away from my kids.
I’ve really had it with the corporate media’s entertainment bread and circuses. My kids are unplugged for the most part and I hope to keep it that way. Today they’re fun-loving, confident children; why should I watch as their self-worth is destroyed by their worrying over how thin they are, or how thick their lips are, or other meaningless trivialities? The sexualization of young girls in the media is truly frightening for anyone with children. It can lead to all kinds of psychological disorders, according to the APA. But honestly, we don’t need a press release to understand these things.
I want my children to take pride in their capabilities. I want them to be mindful about things that matter, about how kind they are, about how they should treat their friends. These values are mostly absent from anything that pops out of the tube or sits on the magazine rack at the checkout counter. They’re certainly missing from commercial entertainment.
Spend an hour with corporate entertainment and the one thing that you walk away with is the cheapness of everything. It’s everywhere, in the snide, snappy, mean-spirited digs in commercials or sitcoms; in many movies, which have “gun tracks” instead of music tracks – how many murders can one person watch in two hours? This cheapness leaves the impression that “nothing really matters”. But things DO matter. There really are implications to our actions. When you live in a commercial-infused TV reality, it’s very easy to lose sight of this.
Corporate advertisers know exactly what they’re doing; they go after our kids, exploiting young minds who’ve yet to develop the skills to understand that advertising is not “the truth” but rather a manipulation. Advertisers recognize this phenomenon and even boast about doing it. When you manipulate minors for your own benefit and at their expense, well, that’s called molestation under any other situation and I think that’s what commercial TV is doing to kids. We have laws in the US against this kind of thing; why should it be OK when it comes in the form of cartoony characters?
We have drug-free school zones; how about commercial-free school zones too?
I’m all for free speech – passionately – but this is not a free speech issue. I know there are plenty of “small government” folks who don’t agree with regulations, and besides it’s hard to imagine the kinds of laws that exist in other countries being passed here in the US to control advertising to children. But we can do the next best thing by turning our backs on the thing. If you have kids you should take pride in keeping commercial TV away from them.
Maybe if more people understood the danger to kids from TV they would simply turn it off. Imagine if 25 million – 50 million – just millions and millions of Americans unplugged themselves from corporate entertainment as a protest. What a message that would send!
Here’s a social experiment to try. There are few things more frightening – enlightening? – than NOT watching commercial entertainment for a set period, say three months, and then taking a peek. You’ll be amazed, believe me. I’ve done it.
What do you think? Leave a comment!
If you’re interested in this topic here are a few resources to browse:
- Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood
- New American Dream (their page on Kids and Commercialism is outstanding)
- Commercial Alert has a Parents’ Bill of Rights petition to send Congress
A big thanks to Crooks and Liars - the best and most original progressive blog on the planet – for their link to ChangeAny1thing.
If you’re not familiar with C&L (and honestly I don’t know many blog readers who don’t visit that site on an hourly basis) go check them out! But watch out, it can become dangerously addictive.