Monday, February 01, 2010

Superbowl Ads

Like many red-blooded American males, I like football. I like watching it, I like talking about it with other guys, and I even briefly tried to play it in middle school (let's not talk about how that one went). So even if my second favorite team, the Indianapolis Colts, wasn't in the game, I'd still be excited about this weekend's Superbowl.

One of the reasons I like the Superbowl is that it is the one football game a year that I can get my wife to watch with me. She doesn't care much about the game, despite my numerous, patient, and erudite attempts to explain it to her, but she does like the commercials. Large companies spend millions of dollars per second competing with each other to see who can put on the most lavish production, which may or may not have even the tiniest connection with the product they're selling. Kind of like the game itself, watching the Superbowl commercials is mindless fun, a great escape from the grind of everyday life.

That is, until this year. It turns out that Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, a devout and vocal (although not in an annoying way, thankfully) evangelical Christian, is appearing with his mother in a pro-life ad sponsored by Focus on the Family (one of the few remaining home-bases of the religious right). Predictably, there was vocal reaction from all sides, because few issues get people up in arms these days like abortion.

This development didn't bug me, personally. If Focus on the Family wants to spend the money to buy air-time during the Superbowl, it's their right to do so. They air beer commercials during the Superbowl, and not everyone approves of alcohol use. For that matter, they air soda ads, and some religious traditions forbid consumption of caffeine. The ability to purchase air-time is an exercise of the First Amendment.

What disturbs me is that CBS is now applying inconsistent standards in what ads they'll air during the Superbowl. A dating website that caters specifically to those with same-sex attraction attempted to buy air-time, and they were rejected, even though the only thing they showed was two guys holding hands. CBS claims the ad "is not within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday." Scantily clad women selling beer and couples heading off for a one night stand selling condoms are OK, but not two guys holding hands? Really?

Ad to this the fact that CBS rejected an ad several years ago from that was critical of then-President Bush. They have also previously rejected ads from the United Church of Christ, a progressive Christian denomination. If everyone has the right to buy air-time if they can afford it, why is CBS discriminating?

Once again we see that conservative Christian groups have tremendous power in America because they are more than willing to unleash their wrath on people and groups they perceive to have offended them in the smallest way. I don't think CBS has a political agenda. CBS is a publicly traded corporation, and as such it is afraid of bad press and boycotts that would hurt their ratings, both of which the Christian-media-industrial-complex is happy to use as weapons.

It's really sad that the dominant voices in our society of those who allegedly represent Jesus Christ, a man who was killed for preaching love and grace against the fear-based, violently coercive systems of his day, use as their first option the tactics against which Jesus preached.

I'm going to enjoy the Superbowl this year, especially if the Colts win, but seeing certain ads included and excluded based almost solely on the fear of issue-groups will lessen my enjoyment.


Jessica Miller Kelley said...

I agree, that anyone who wants to pay the exorbitant sum should be able to run an ad during the Super Bowl. Unlike most people, I agree with both the anti-abortion and the pro-gay-love concepts being advertised.

Hooray for life and love of all people! Why is this such a crazy idea???

B Smith said...

I agree with your analysis. The irony in this situation is that those banned companies involved are receiving more publicity for free than they would have spending $2.8 million.

Matt Kelley said...

which is probably the idea, anyway...

Mandi said...

I love the way you express your thoughts, but more importantly, I love the way you think (except for the whole Colts thing...we're just going to have to agree to disagree there).

Keep up the good work!

Bradford said...

Thanks again Matt for adding some discussion to this in a well thought out, mature and loving way. I've seen that most stories and posts regarding this discrimination have come from people who are just throwing out a knee-jerk, angry comment or blog. it's sad that we can't talk about these things instead of yelling at each other, but alas that's why we have to find the people who do it right. Keep it up!!

Katie Z. Dawson said...

great response as always. I, also, dont oppose the ad but the way in which these decisions are made about what can be aired and what not. I loved your comments Jessica! =)

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It is completely wrong to allow one politically-charged ad and not another politically-charged ad to BUY time.

Todd Greer said...

I appreciate you been very open to allow both sides to express their views. Jesus always made it very clear that we are to love sinners and hate the sin. More often than not, people tend to put the hate on the people and not the sin. Good writing.

Rob said...

Two points:

"an extension of first amendment right" (but only to those who have millions of dollars to throw away on 30-second TV spots.

This take on the issue disturbed me:

Hope you are doing well, friend!