So, I’m at the movies, right? Watching the commercials that come before the previews (mind you, I don’t have a television so I’m only exposed to TV commercials on my once-a-month trip to the theatre)…
In one of these commercials, a group of real fifth graders (or so one is led to believe) is visiting a space museum. The museum guide asks them if they can keep a secret, and invites them into a room where they come face to face with aliens. The incredulous children stare in awe at the two creatures on the other side of the glass, and communicate with them through a microphone and through the guide, who translates. One of the children is selected to enter the room where the aliens are kept, and the children explode with delight when the alien returns the dazzled child’s farewell with a raspy-sounding “bye”.
When they leave the room, they come face to face with two actors who take off their alien masks to reveal their human identities. The tour guide admits she’s an actor, and tells the children that they are actually in a commercial for a disgusting, preservative-filled, nutritionally devoid lunch product that parents nowadays send to school instead of a balanced meal, and which must be marketed to the hilt because it makes no sense to pay any amount of money for such pathetic rubbish.
Anyhow, the children, upon finding out they’ve been duped and hearing the name of the obviously-familiar product, explode into raucous cheers and delighted laughter, as if they’d each just won a new computer. The commercial concludes with the promise of free field trips for those who purchase the product and win a contest. Because nothing relates better to education than preservative-filled rubbery turkey from (if we’re lucky) inhumanely treated birds, and colon-clogging white bread from genetically modified wheat.
My brain screamed WTF!!! At so many levels!!! First of all, children should not be allowed to even consume the processed crap that company is selling. Secondly, why would any parent be cruel enough to purchase that for their children? Do they not know how to read labels? Thirdly, why is this company allowed to establish even a remote relationship between the poison they peddle and the field trip, arguably most important type of elementary education?
Fourthly, and perhaps most disturbingly, why did the children – who, from the looks on their faces, had totally bought in to the alien farce – jump for joy when they found out they had been taken for a ride in the name of marketing? They should’ve felt used, made fun of, taken advantage of!! They should be incensed and disgusted with the thought of being even remotely associated with a product that would assume they were stupid and gullible. But perhaps they’ve become so stupid and gullible – thanks to a combination of lack of school funding (of which marketers take advantage) and poor nutrition – that they cannot begin to understand their role in this… this… Someone help me find a word. I’m too angry right now.
We’re having kids next year. Is it too much to ask for marketers to keep their grimy, slimy paws away from them until they are old enough to understand the true implications of caving in to marketers’ psychological manipulation? Or are we going to have to move to the mountains and raise our children in a yurt?