There is a moment in the movie Pleasantville, when the world of Pleasantville changes forever. It's right after Chip (the beautiful Paul Walker) makes out with Mary Sue (Reese Witherspoon) in his car. He looks over at the rose bush beside the driveway and sees colour for the first time ever. One beautiful deep RED rose.
Theologians across the internet think of this movie as a bit of a metaphor for the Garden of Eden and the "perfect" world of Pleasantville being disrupted by the "sex-crazed" Mary Sue. (I don't recommend you go googling and looking for that, because, well, it's all BAD Mary Sue, bad!) Anyway... the reason this scene keeps coming to me, has little to do with religion and a lot to do with being AWAKENED to and aware of certain realities all around us. (Which, some might argue, is kind of what happened in the Garden of Eden also, so... po-TAY-toes - po-TAH-toes.)
For the past week, my social media pages have been blowing up with a new parenting video. Oh, you know the one. It's got everyone saying things like, "This is FANTASTIC!!", "I laughed and cried within 2 minutes!", and "The most awesome video I have ever seen."
Yes, I am talking about the new Similac Ad and their we-are-all-in-this-together "Sisterhood of Motherhood" and #sisterhoodunite campaign. (I don't have a sarcasm font, but if I did, I WOULD USE IT FOR THAT HASHTAG!) It's been a while since I have written anything about formula advertising, but I think I still get the gist of how they do things. Oh so fucking subtly.
And before anyone starts in on why breastfeeding didn't work for them, or why formula feeding was their choice, or wasn't because they didn't get the support they needed, please know that this post is not about that. And don't go telling me that this kind of advertisement doesn't actually work and people are smart enough to see it for what it is and not be swayed by it. Just STOP.
Wake up and see the roses, Pleasantville-ers! If advertising doesn't WORK, then no one would pay the Superbowl folks a dime for a 30 second spot during the game. If advertising doesn't work, then how on earth would we know if we are Pepsi or Coke drinkers? If advertising doesn't work, then why are you CRYING after watching a video about a bunch of stereotypes?
Advertising works BECAUSE it makes you FEEL something, whether you are consciously aware of it or not (preferably not) . And as we all know, nothing makes us feel more than our children and all the potential ways that we are completely messing up at this whole parenting gig! The folks at Similac know that too and they have capitalized on that and hashtagged the shit out of it. Because if you don't follow suit and line up all nicely with the "Sisterhood of Motherhood", you MUST be one of the meanies, right? And look, formula feeders are the nice ones and it doesn't matter because WE ARE ALL THE SAME and OH MY GOD, SOMEONE SAVE THE BABY!!!!
Do I even have to mention the flippant way that dads are included in this ad? One more stereotype of the father/buffoon, confused about boobs, of course. Or how about the LGBTQ parents off to the side, like they are somehow outsiders and observers of all the cis-hetero-normative folk getting all up in each others faces? GAH! So much of this video is just so freaking WRONG and I am shocked at how everyone keeps calling it "brilliant" and "groundbreaking" and how it is sending us all a great message about parenting.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am all over the "it takes a village" philosophy of parenting, and my children and I have benefited from the many people who have made up ours over the years. I guess I just don't want or need anyone, let alone a formula manufacturer, defining what that village looks like or is called, especially when we all know that they aren't doing it purely out of the goodness of their hearts.
You can like that video. You can share it all over the internet. You can do whatever the hell you want. I am not YOUR mother. But, please, PLEASE, I am begging you, in this regard, and in many of the narratives that we are presented with in our daily consumption of media, listen to that little voice inside your head that may be saying, "Hmmmmm, why doesn't this sit quite right with me?". Let that little voice get a bit louder, don't believe all the hype, and understand the forces and motives behind big brands that make BILLIONS of dollars off of us, the silly, brain-dead consumer, living our pleasant little lives.
Our world is not in black and white, and it is up to us to open our eyes and SEE ALL THE COLOURS!
And I don't know about you, but like Chip, I am seeing a lot of RED right now!