Child Abuse in Advertising

I’ve noticed a shocking trend in advertising which I think is horribly abusive towards children and parents everywhere.

Some of you may disagree and think that my using the word “abuse” is hyperbole but hear me out.

For the past couple of weeks there’s been this radio spot for the back to school specials of a major office supply retailer.

A petulant child keeps sending his mother back to this store as he apparently has neglected to be complete and clear in his instructions to his chipper and submissive mother.  And by petulant I mean whiny.  “I meant the red binder!”.

When I was a child such a tone wouldn’t be met with a chipper “yes dear” accompanied by squealing tires as my mother rushed off to do my bidding.  My mom would hit me with the “wait until your father gets home…” line (and it wouldn’t be “so he can run out to get your supplies dear”).   She would then make me squirm through a slow, leisurely dinner before getting to the part where she told my dad what a little d-bag I’d been. (my words, not hers).

A few years ago there was a tv spot for a video game system where kids were so enamored with the offerings their poor mother had to carry the heavy television into the dining room so they would eat.

When I was a kid…if we had video game systems and that would’ve been necessary our gaming systems would meet an untimely demise and we would be grounded, after waiting for our father to get home…and a long, leisurely dinner.

So why do I think such advertising is abusive.

If these ads reflected real-life,  which they might considering some of the behaviour of today’s youth that I see we as a society are setting up today’s children for a life time of hearing things like:

“You’re fired you stuck-up, lazy, entitled p.o.s”

“You’re under arrest you stuck-up, lazy, entitled p.o.s”

“Oh hey dude, that guy really beat the crap out of you, do you need me to call 911?”

The problem that ads like this portray is a sense of entitlement.   When someone feels entitled they often lose perspective and with it an accurate sense of right and wrong.   After all,  in his short lifetime little Johnny stays home, and sends his mother to the store to get school supplies.   He doesn’t get his instructions right.  But instead of apologizing, and politely asking her to return (or better yet, going himself),   he gets this snotty tone to which his mother responds as if its his natural right.

As he gets older he takes this attitude with everyone.  After all if his mom bent to his will why shouldn’t his girlfriend,  or teachers,  or complete strangers?

In order for something to be satire it has to be base in reality.   I think some advertisers lose complete perspective in their attempt to present relationships in a satirical way, if that’s their intent.  Regardless,  they’re setting some pretty high expectations in some young minds as to how they should be treated.

post-script:  I’m not saying the majority of today’s youth are spoiled and entitled young hooligans.  Most kids I encounter are polite and do not portray the sense of entitlement portrayed in some of these ads.   I’m proud to say that my niece and nephew are both glowing examples of decorum and have shown every sign that they will grow into exceptional adults.

I wonder if that blurb will suffice as a Christmas present…oh wait, did I type that outloud?…ah crud, I think I did!


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