Friday, November 26, 2004

Glorious American Exploitation

I have a sister who is nine. She's adorable, she's hilarious, she's very smart. She rocks.

I also have a Dad (not just as a biological necessity). My Dad is a chaplain in the army. A few months ago he got back from a year in Iraq. He built hospitals and schools and helped free muslims who had been wrongfully imprisoned by our own government. He also was there to be a spiritual guide to many men and women, much younger than he, who were confused and frightened by the war.

My sister's taste in media is that of a nine year old. Obviously. She loves the show "American Dreams". I'm really not a fan of it. The one episode I had watched with her before this weekend was trite and saccharin. Not awful, just really mediocre. There are worse things she could be watching.

My Dad typically likes the show because of the "American Bandstand" clips from when he was a kid. Like when my husband and I watch "I Love The 80's".

This weekend, I was at my parent's house. My sister wanted to watch "American Dreams". Before the show began the network mentioned that Ford was presenting the episode free of commercials. That made me instantly skeptical, figuring there would be some kind of gross product placement. There was a scene where, after JJ returns from Vietnam, his father gives him a car, and it is, of course, a Ford. You barely saw the logo. No big deal. It was bearable.

Afterwards, however, we saw something that made us want to vomit. Ford ran a five minute commercial after the show ended, depicting a young man returning from Iraq, home to his family, and the "emotional" father son bonding moment is...his Dad giving him a brand new, 2005 mustang. The camera ran over the car, the paint, the chrome. The son is glowing with joy. There's a second where his father asks him how he's adjusting. The son makes a vague reference to difficulty, the father makes an equally vague (Vietnam supposedly) reference. Then of course, the focus returns to the car.

I thought my father was going to cry with rage. He was so offended he got up and paced around the room a couple of times. He felt hurt and exploited and I wanted to throttle the people at Ford, and at NBC for doing this.

I know capitalism rules in this country, but you would hope that they would at least try subtlety.

It’s times like these that I feel like pleading with my husband about moving to Sweden.


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