I actually watched most of the Super Bowl on Sunday. That’s the second time in two months that I tried to get through a complete game. No, that’s not true. By the time I found the TCU game on ESPN it was close to half time.
Most of the ads were just plain silly, as they are wont to be during the Super Bowl. However, there was one ad that caused me to involuntarily shudder. It was the one from HomeAway.com.
A brother and sister are pillow fighting over who gets to sleep on the bed in a hotel. The mother, who is holding what is supposed to be an audibly crying baby, puts the baby down on a bench. The father is hit in the face with a pillow and falls down on the bench hard enough that the other end of the bench flies up and the baby soars across the room and smushes against the glass window. At that point the viewer sees the face and realizes the baby is not real. The announcer then says, “Test baby”.
Rationally adults know as soon as the baby flies that it is not real. It takes a second for emotions to realize the same thing. In that second it is a gut wrenching reaction if you care at all about babies. Rationally you know this was an attempt at a sense of humor. Emotionally most people would be initially appalled with the exception of teenagers. Especially teen age boys. I’m sure there was a lot of laughter in millions of homes when the teens saw the baby go splat against the glass. “Cool!”
Perhaps I am off base today, but the thought crossed my mind that this ad is an example of desensitizing teenagers to pain felt by others, especially babies. It has been proved the brains of teenagers have not yet fully developed. Am I wrong if during this critical time, seeing episodes like this one could lead to decreasing empathy for children? From 1995 to 2007, the amount of children’s deaths has doubled due to child abuse. Older individuals in society tend to abuse those beings they view as less than fully human or as capable of feeling pain. Could this ad and similar others which might just follow be training videos for child abusers in the future?
If you google “What is the reason for child abuse?” , wikianswers quotes the following:
“The answer according to Dr Joel Akande of http://www.myeexpert.com, is simply that the abuser lacks insight into the value of the child. If you appreciate a thing say your car or your gold, you will protect it.
In general, human beings abuse anything (earth, animals, elderly people, strangers, people of different colours etc) that they either can not understand nor know its true value. Children are not different, regardless of various theories and claimed background histories of the abuser. No matter what the abuser may be going or may have gone through, as long as he/she maintains deep insight as to the child’s value, the child will be protected.”
It may have an even greater effect on younger children who view such a scene.
“When young children see somebody shot, stabbed, raped, brutalized, degraded, or murdered on TV, to them it is as though it were actually happening. To have a child of three, four, or five watch a “splatter” movie, learning to relate to a character for the first 90 minutes and then in the last 30 minutes watch helplessly as that new friend is hunted and brutally murdered is the moral and psychological equivalent of introducing your child to a friend, letting her play with that friend, and then butchering that friend in front of your child’s eyes. And this happens to our children hundreds upon hundreds of times.
Sure, they are told: “Hey, it’s all for fun. Look, this isn’t real, it’s just TV.” And they nod their little heads and say, “okay.” But they can’t tell the difference. Can you remember a point in your life or in your children’s lives when dreams, reality, and television were all jumbled together? That’s what it is like at that level of psychological development. That’s what the media is doing to them.” A perfect example of this jumbling occurred during the same game with the ad featuring the young “Darth Vader.”
Perhaps I’m in a small minority, but I have never been able to find humor is the pain of others.” America’s Funniest Home Videos” and the “Three Stooges” get the most laughs when pain is perceived to be inflicted upon others. This type of comedy is called slapstick and has been around to provide entertainment for centuries. Instead of being funny, I find that I involuntarily wince and sometimes turn my head when such “comedy” appears. It’s bad enough when the participants are adults.
I think this ad crosses the line. To portray the harm of babies as funny, is going too far.
When you go to homeaway, they have given the viewer three choices of what happens to the “baby”. The first choice is the baby flying over the glass and falling several stories to the lobby below where the director catches it, then hands it to an assistant who drops it to the floor. Later you see the baby being swept up with a broom. The second choice is the baby flies through the glass thus being decapitated. The head falls off when it hits the ground. The third choice is the one chosen to air during the Bowl which shows the baby being smushed against the glass.
I am concerned by the increasing frequency of violence in our world, in our communities, on our TV. The Super Bowl is very closely associated with America. Is this the America we really want? Is this the America we will continue to accept? Probably. In my opinion, this commercial should have been penalized as a personal foul. Namaste Attic Annie
I guess I was a little late in my reaction. The ad has been pulled. I am grateful that I was not the only one who did not see the humor of simulating injury to an infant.