by Brett Maragni
The Super Bowl used to be known for having the most entertaining and creative commercials. Emphasis on “used to be.” This year was embarrassing.
Lack of creativity by the marketing departments of certain companies manifested itself by a display of inappropriate innuendo and at least one use of obscene language. I don’t know if there was more because I started hitting the mute button during every commercial break. I had had enough of crude references to parts of the female anatomy. It used to be that cursing and innuendo was reserved for men at sea or in locker rooms. Now it’s pumped through our televisions into our parties with women and children present.
What is especially perplexing is that Fox rejected a John 3:16 advertisement because it would be too controversial. Telling the world that God loves them might offend someone but having a man repeat the phrase, “I want to sleep with her” multiple times is entirely appropriate? The people who are making these decisions for Fox should be ashamed.
But before we get too exercised with the companies producing these commercials and the networks that run them, we need to remind ourselves that American companies give Americans what they want. We are very naïve if we believe that these companies are motivated by a desire to cause our women to blush and our children to be corrupted. They are motivated to sell. Big money was spent in market research prior to airing their multi-million dollar commercials.
They were not taking a calculated risk that mainstream America might react with shock and resolve to boycott their products. They were banking on the truth that most Americans would laugh at their crude humor and continue purchasing their wares. They did their homework and knew for certain that their PG-13 commercials would be accepted and even embraced. In other words, if Americans were not buying the trash, the companies would not be selling it.
What can you do about it? Well, for one, you can ignore them by hitting the mute button. Or you could take it a step further and purchase from their competition. That would be an immediate action that enables you to voice your displeasure with your wallet. Other things you might consider doing would be writing gracious letters to the offending companies, letting them know how much you would appreciate it if they were more thoughtful about their commercials and about being more family friendly.
This also serves as a reminder to Christians that we need to let the light of Christ permeate in all areas of life. Sometimes we might be guilty of only celebrating how God is using his servants who are in full-time vocational ministry, whether it be a pastor, youth pastor, missionary or evangelist. But one of the marks of the Protestant Reformation was a sense of calling even in so-called “secular” work. The cobbler could sense the smile of God upon his latest pair of shoes made for the glory of God just as the pastor could his sermon. We need to celebrate excellence in every field.
One commercial stood out above the rest, in my opinion. A young boy is dressed up in a Darth Vader outfit and spends his day at home marching around the house attempting to utilize the power of “the force” upon all sorts of items: a baby doll, his dog, the washing machine, his lunch, all to no avail and to his disappointment. Then Dad comes home from work and pulls into the driveway in his new Volkswagen. Dad goes in the house, and from the kitchen window, starts the car with his keychain car remote control right as his son is attempting to throw “the force” upon the sedan. The little boy’s reaction is priceless.
I have no idea if the creative minds behind the commercial are Christians, but their 60 seconds of art were humorous, sweet and effectively placed a positive feeling in me toward their product. The more we have Christians generating great work like that, the less trash will be out there. Instead of condemning the darkness, we can produce so much light that the darkness is dispelled.
Brett Maragni is senior pastor of Jacksonville, Fla., Harvest Bible Chapel.