Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tis the Season to be Nasty

Christmas commercials are really starting to bug me. First was the stupid Best Buy commercial that emphasized greed. Now there's another Best Buy commercial -- a man in an office is confronted by his boss, a very aggressive guy who is complaining about his lack of a gift for his brother-in-law. The employee suggests a Best Buy gift card, and shows his boss one he's bought. The boss pockets it and walks off. GREED! and THIEVERY! and WORKPLACE HARASSMENT! And general rude, selfish behavior. Then there is the one with two guys fighting over a Best Buy box -- one brought a present, the other didn't have one to give back (because, of course, one gives presents only to get presents back), so the first guy decides to keep the gift while the second one wants it. Greed. Pure, simple greed over those stupid blue and yellow boxes.

It's not funny. It adds more to the pile of things that make me avoid Best Buy. Why do we think these things are funny? It's funny when the little guy gets beat on by the big guy. It's funny when people show how little they care about family and friends when there's some magic thing waiting for them. I know Best Buy is a retail store trying to make money, therefore they want people to desire the things Best Buy sells. I'd just be more disposed toward them if their message was more in line with the idea that 1) we give gifts because we want to show others we care and think about them 2) that holidays are a time we set aside for special recognition of others, which we choose to do via gifts. I know fully well that a retail business doesn't want people to think that the things we buy AREN'T the be-all and end-all, but I wish they weren't so OBVIOUS about it.

And now it's Heineken commercials that are bugging me. A guy walks into a home Christmas party with a 6-pack of the beer, and everyone is grabbing those beers until they are all gone. Then another guy walks in with a 12 pack. The first guy targets him to continue the beer stealing.

This one is in the same vein as one where a guy signals for another Heineken from the bar, which is passed along from person to person until some guy with a mixed drink gets it. He then takes the beer and passes his glass along to the original guy.

Both these commercials say that Heineken is so good that it's ok to steal it from someone else. The Christmas one in particular says that sharing is going to leave a person without anything, so you're better off being greedy (there it is again) and hoarding beer for yourself.

I'm willing to bet there are other commercials I haven't seen that promote similar themes, and that thought makes me feel uncomfortable. I think that advertising both affects how we see ourselves and reflects how we see ourselves. I try to stay very conscious of the meta-messages in advertising. These messages bother me a lot.

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