Watching the Mets game last night I was again reminded of how crappy television can be… which is unfortunate, because the game was awesome (10-8 win with some serious battling down to the end of the 9th inning).
Two images stick in my mind as of this morning; first being the Verizon FiOS commercial, where Kevin Garnett has all of his gigantic television screens wired up in his palacial estate (obscene, whether real or not), playing some of the goriest scenes from the Rocky movie. Each punch from the movie clip is punctuated by a beat in the background “whoomp-there-it-is” soundtrack. Not only is the commercial way too violent for a child under the age of 15 (yes, I have grandiose ideas of watching baseball with my kid, as soon as s/he is able to say “baseball”… or “Reyes”), but it also drives excessive consumerism straight down the viewer’s throat.
The second commercial, that I find comical in its absurdity, is the new McDonalds breakfast advertisement. The commercial shows several Americans fumbling with (one guy struggles to open a cereal box only to have it explode all over the dining room, where is toddler daughter watches in disapproval), burning (one woman flips what appears to be an omelet out of a pan and onto the gas burner where it promptly catches fire), and generally despising (the old “lumpy oatmeal on a spoon” camera shot) their breakfast. The kicker is when the camera pans to the NEW southern-fried chicken biscuit from McDonalds. “Leave breakfast to the professionals” the ad proclaims…the implication, of course, is that indeed YOU are too lame to even make breakfast for yourself, or your family, so go to McDonalds and eat some fried chicken on a biscuit!
McDonalds does acknowledge that “tastes are changing” and “change is good” (on several other new commercials advertising the chicken breakfast biscuit), and challenge the viewer to “think outside the box”… it’s funny they should say that, because now I’m thinking seriously of living without the box entirely…
For more information on the effect of media on children, I can highly recommend The Other Parent, by James P. Steyer (who is also a fan baseball, and had a similar revelation almost twenty years ago)