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Daze of My Life/ďI Spy with My Little EyeĒ
by Kenneth B. Lourie
Thereís an advertisement for Cingular Wireless promoting its unlimited minutes and expanded network of free mobile-to-mobile calling that Iíve heard on the radio recently, and repeatedly, which is beginning to bother me, as a man.
Itís extremely demeaning (or could that be demanning?) The commercial to which I refer is the one where a father is driving somewhere with his family - wife, daughter and son - and he wants to play car charades because presumably the family doesnít have enough minutes of free calling with its current cellular service provider - not Cingular Wireless - and must therefore pass the time being bored and stupid, specifically the father, who, as his dialogue would lead you to believe, is a complete doofus. (ďActually I was thinking Homerís ĎIliad.íĒ)
Now since I donít consider myself a complete doofus, or even a partial one, I donít take it personally, but I do object to it inasmuch as it reflects on me genderly. Does the father have to be so totally clueless and unaware that the family is nearly in a car accident - ďTRUCK!Ē - because heís so determined to play his time-passing game - ďFrere Jacques, parmesanĒ - that he doesnít seem to realize or remember that heís driving an automobile?
And thatís because he, and his family, has the wrong cellular service provider. Isnít that the inference of the commercial, or am I a stranger in town? Moreover, is someone who doesnít have Cingular Wireless cellular the kind of out-of-touch dope who (A) doesnít pay attention when heís driving an automobile, (B) plays car charades and, (C) puts his family at risk because of (A) and (B)? And if so, is that the kind of idiotic behavior with which I want to be in anyway associated? Of course not, and by that association or direct marketing intention, is that the kind of cellular service provider that one wants to have that causes him to - due to limited minutes or restrictive calling network - act like an irresponsible, insane-sounding, bozo (with all due respect to clowns everywhere)?
And the father is the dummy du jour, who exhibits many of the ill-advised, inattentive traits that no sane person would want to possess, under any circumstances, especially circumstances where you put your family in danger. What kind of moron is he? ďWhy,Ē as Curly Howard of the Three Stooges said, ďare there more than one kind?Ē And thatís what I object to - moronic behavior by a man to promote a product.
Isnít there a better way to highlight a positive than to lowlight a negative - I donít think Iím being oversensitive here. I think Iím being just-right-sensitive to the insensitivity of the producers who are responsible for this Cingular Wireless radio commercial. I donít like it when my fellow males, or myself, are used as pawns in a game of Iím-better-than-you-are. Why not simply promote your product on its merits? Humiliating a gender in the process may be easy, but Iím here to tell you, as a man, in this context itís not very effective.
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.
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