Friday, February 09, 2007

I'm Getting Offended by All These People Getting Offended

Piggybacking a bit on the most recent post by Chris about “being offended”:

First, I read the week of the Super Bowl that the National Restaurant Association was all up in arms about Nationwide’s K-Fed ad, saying it demeaned fast food workers.

K-Fed even issued an explanation and apology here.

I thought that was pretty ridiculous. I think several million people who came before K-Fed have made the joke about an underachiever ending up saying “do you want fries with that.” And I don’t know that anyone’s ever had to apologize for it.

I have to believe the National Restaurant Association (hey—the NRA!!) was just looking for some free publicity.

Then I read after the game that gay people were up in arms over the Snicker’s ad where two guys kissed accidentally and then tried to find something manly to do to show off their non-gayness.

That also seemed like a thin argument. Two straight guys that accidentally kissed would very likely be grossed out. It’s not a slam on gay people. It just means that straight guys are grossed out by the idea of homosexuality. And that’s largely true. I think if a gay guy accidentally made out with a woman he would be just as wigged out. Maybe I'm wrong.

I think seeing someone puke is gross. I might even comment on it being gross. Doesn’t mean I’m belittling that person's right to puke.

PC run amok.

Then a few days ago I saw this story about how pissed off atheists were at CNN for the “heinous” act of discussing atheism without actually having any atheists on the panel. To see the atheists responding to it, go to the Digg page about it and read the 700 comments where they call the CNN segment ‘hate speech’. Aethists are now somehow a minority, according to them…and it seems like their basis is that they are a religion. But isn’t atheism the opposite of religion…like…isn’t it a major tenant of atheism that there is no higher power? And isn’t a higher power a necessary element of something defined as a religion?

Then finally today I saw this. It seems that an anti-suicide group is pissed off at GM for their ad about the robot who dreams of his own suicide. What?! Are we now worried about protecting the feelings of dead people? Those who commit suicide are somehow offended by this? Is this ad encouraging suicide? Obviously not. This is just a ploy by a non-profit that is surely cash strapped to get some international pub for free by raising a stink. And it will work.

I guess I can see where someone might feel that the ad takes suicide too lightly. But then let’s call out Career Builder for the ad where everyone runs off the cliff. Let’s contact those Renaissance Fair people who like to pretend sword fight to protest the CB ad where workers seeking promotion were forced to duel, because it makes fun of dueling.

I have also seen mentions that union workers were upset with the GM robot ad because it sort of makes light of the robots-putting-real-humans-out-of-work thing.

Being offended is the new marketing strategy. It’s like a clever way to go grassroots.

It builds more buzz to get a major advertiser like Snickers or GM to actually PULL AN AD than it would if you aired your own ad. When did this country become so obsessed with being offended? It seriously waters down legitimate instances where a minority group is demeaned to have these silly spats from freaking anti-suicide groups claiming slander.

Seems now that any group of people—no matter how small—who share any kind of unique belief can now claim they are a minority being discriminated against.

In a few days I expect to see that several thousand death row inmates have signed a petition to get the movie Dead Man Walking banned forever because it casts death row inmates in a bad (read: guilty) light.

A few days later I expect that the American Pedophile Consortium will have issued a statement decrying the To Catch A Predator series on NBC, because it is unfairly hurting the image of child molesters everywhere.

Minorities are no longer defined by their race, sexual orientation, or other DNA-related things. They can now be formed at the mere suggestion of a shared belief, no matter how wacky.

If we try hard enough, we can find a reason to ban every Super Bowl commercial from this year’s game. Let’s see…the Rock/Paper/Scissors ad? Yeah…some mothers group or parents council will be calling for that ad to be pulled because it encourages violence in kids. It’s actually targeted at kids—if you didn’t know—as you can verify by noticing the use of the children’s classic game.

The Combo’s “what your mom would feed you if your mom was a man” spot demeans transvestites.

By the way: I find it interesting that the beer ad where the comedian guy teaches all the different nationalities how to ask for a beer in their local “lingo” (including telling Hispanic guys to include the word “homes” in their request for delicious brew)…has seemingly offended no one, despite being the only ad that made light of stereotypes related to nationality.

I guess my point is that there is no “minority group” too small to not have their “outrage” taken seriously. I’m making jokes above with the Combos and Rock/Paper/Scissors ads, but that is exactly how silly all these other protests are to me.

Now…if you’re still with me…let me be philosophical for just one minute. Some wise person once said, "If you have to rally people and convince people that a commercial was offensive…if you have to drum up media coverage to persuade folks to see an ad as offensive…well, then, I posit that 'people' were largely not offended in the first place. " That wise person was me. And I said that statement just now in this post.

Why don’t we let viewers do their talking with the remote control? Or their pocketbook. If everyone offended by the Snickers ad were to privately and quietly boycott Snickers for it…well, then, six months down the road Snickers sales data would reflect that (except that I doubt there were too many folks that offended about it until a few news stories told them they should be.).


At 3/03/2007 11:03:00 PM, Blogger Piper said...

There's no doubt that the world has gotten a bit too sensitive for its own good. Everybody wants to blame somebody. And if the so-called guilty party doesn't apologize they have to risk being criticized on-line by the masses for months on end.

It's a slippery slope and a sucky one at that. Everybody just needs to lighten up and quit being so damn offended by everything.

The world is so segmented now it's nearly impossible not to offend someone. You have to either not give a shit, or offend the smallest group possible. Me, I make fun of scientologists any chance I get.


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