Some people are 49ers fans, others are Ravens fans. Many are neither but want to see the last football game of the season. Lots tuned in for Beyonce, and many watched for the infamous ads.
Regardless of the particular reason, lots of people watch the Super Bowl. This year was no exception, with a huge audience tuning in (it was the third most watched TV broadcast, behind only Super Bowl ’12 and Super Bowl ’11).
Suffice it to say that advertising during the Super Bowl gives you a
national worldwide platform of viewers.
One of the best was the Oreo argument in the library, when despite all of the ruckus, everyone obeyed the “quiet voices” library policy.
Sure I am probably a bit biased, and I was almost certainly a bit obnoxious as I sat next to my soon-to-be-librarian girlfriend giggling and poking her asking her if that’s what she would do in that situation…
I think regardless of whether you happen to have a connection to a librarian, it’s a pretty entertaining commercial. There were a few other commercials that were reasonably funny and several that made no sense at all to me (perhaps more on these later).
But there was one other commercial that caught my eye, and maybe not for the right reasons. It was the “where do babies come from?” Kia car commercial:
Ok, so it is kind of funny. But why?
For starters, the pretty obvious allusion to sex is apparent throughout. We have “rockets ready for lift-off,” we see a fleet of
sperm rockets approaching the egg earth, and we find out that they are trying to “penetrate” the atmosphere. And that’s how babies are made.
Alright, funny enough. But the situation itself is a little bit disappointing and says a lot about our culture, and the taboo nature of (legitimate) sex information in America.
Here we have a young kid ask a very innocent question about where babies come from. Instead of answering the question with any semblance of the truth, we see the young parents become immediately flustered and come up with a complex web of lies involving distant planets and rocket ships that carry babies.
I’m not saying that you have to get down to the nuts and bolts or specific diagrams of how things work, but a reasonable response wouldn’t hurt. “Well, Timmy, when two adults care about each other they may want to have a child together. Men have half an egg, and women have half an egg, so they can put them together to have a baby.” It’s a little vague, it’s reasonably accurate, reasonably responsible, and there’s nothing dirty or shameful about it.
The final punchline of the commercial is that we find out that little Timmy already knows better than the story that his parents tell him. He starts to reply by saying that his friend told him… at which time the parents immediately shut down the conversation and crank up the “Wheels on the Bus” children’s song. It’s ironic that the kid has obviously shown his sexual knowledge/curiosity to be beyond this children’s song, but the parents try to ignore this and appear to soothe themselves with an innocent and appropriate children’s song.
Again, instead of addressing the issue in any reasonable way, they decide to completely ignore the kid and shut down the conversation. They don’t even bother to find out if the information that little Timmy’s friend gave him is in any way accurate.
Both the complex web of lies as well as the “shut it down” attitude of the parents also give off the idea that sex is dirty or shameful - or at the very least inappropriate. It also allows for any bad information to go unchecked.
Now, I get it – it’s a commercial. And it’s supposed to be funny. And there is some humor to it. But the basis for the entire commercial being humorous is that we can all relate to this situation as “awkward” or “weird.”
In a culture where we are bombarded with sexual imagery and situations via tv, advertising, movies, and real-life, isn’t it a bit ironic that there is such a taboo surrounding (legitimate) sex information?! Because, let’s face it, if little Timmy isn’t getting legitimate information from mom or dad or some other knowledgeable individual, he’s going to get it from somewhere – whether it’s through the media or his peers.
And as little Timmy gets older and might have more pressing questions or concerns regarding sex, he’ll know where to go – and it’s not his parents or other (allegedly) more responsible individuals. It’s his peers, movies, tv, or the internet.
Perhaps that’s one reason why we are ridden with such a great deal of misinformation regarding sexuality in America. There are people who think you can’t get pregnant on your period or in a hot tub, that condoms are largely ineffective so why use them, and who have little knowledge as to how STD/STIs are transferred. This past election cycle, we even had a slew of grown senators and congressman claim that women couldn’t get pregnant from rape. Maybe the taboo surrounding legitimate sex information and communication is problematic and shouldn’t be ignored.
So yes, it is a commercial. But it says something about our society when we look at the lengths that parents will go to avoid talking about sex – even when we’re “joking” about it.