This year's Super Bowl ads were a decidedly mixed bag. A few were actually inspired. Some were simply awful. And the rest (the majority) were mundane and mediocre.
It's easy to make too much of these ads and overstate their importance or what they say about the state of our society. However, there was a thread that ran through a number of them that I found disturbing.
That was the apparent willingness of those depicted to surrender things such as honor, respect, and freedom in exchange for material possessions. This was clearly the message in the Dodge Charger commercial where a group of men as much admitted that they had pretty much completely given up control of their lives to their wives for the "right" to drive the car they wanted to. My wife has my pair in her purse, but as long as she throws me this one bone, I'll happily submit.
The angle in the Bridgestone ad was different, but it had a similar message. Rather than resist the dystopic thugs who wanted to take his tires, the "hero" of this story chooses to throw his wife to the wolves in order to keep his material goods. I'm sure the creators thought this was funny which in itself says a lot about what people think of the meaning of manhood these days.
The Audi "Green Police" ad has generated a lot of discussion about whether it's actually a not-so-subtle send up of the extremes of the environmental movement. Even if it is, we again see a situation where the person at the center of the ad--whom viewers are expected to personally identify with--is choosing the path of least resistance in order to maintain their own personal comfort. Rather than resisting the degradations and violations of liberty wrought by the Green Police, the Audi driver has found a way to reach an accommodation with them. As long as it's my neighbors and not me being hauled off to reeducation camps and I can still drive my cool car, I'm okay with things.
Again, perhaps I'm getting all worked up about nothing. Maybe these ads are just ads and there no relationship between their content and our cultural values. But when you see a similar message appear over and over during what has likely become America's premier shared cultural event, it causes me to worry what that message might imply about the character of our country.
UPDATE: Cap'n Ed has a post on the Audi ad at Hot Air and one commenter (darclon) suggests a better version:
This ad would have been awesome if an '67 stingray roared to life and broke through a green police barricade while the driver chomped on a cheeseburger and gave the cops the finger
That's exactly what I thought when I watched it last night. Then, maybe instead of "Dream Police," the ad could feature Rush's Red Barchetta. That version also would have been a fulfillment of what Daniel Henniger wrote about last May:
Maybe they'll bolt. Maybe the car culture will revert to where it began, when the whiskey runners in the South ran from the revenuers. This time the cars themselves will be bootlegged--fat, fast and gas-powered--racing through the night on off-map roads while the National Green Corps--enacted by Congress in the second Obama term--looks for them from ethanolic choppers overhead. Reborn to run.
National Green Corps? Let's stick with the Green Police. That's much easier for our Commander in Chief to pronounce correctly.