There is a television commercial showing in New York right now (and perhaps
that breaks my heart and infuriates me every time I see it. It promotes a wireless
telephone service (I
think Verizon wireless) and its IN program
that allows customers to talk to other customers of the company for as long
want without incurring any charges against their allotted minutes.
I couldn’t find a video or a script for the ad online, so this script is from
Two teenage sisters stand in the living room of their house. Their mother
and father enter. The father is a big, fleshy, goofy-looking guy with curly
blond hair and a clueless enthusiasm. He carries two brand-new cellular phones.
The mother is disproportionately attractive, and the teenage girls are basic
of their mother—thin,
symmetrical, and well dressed.
Father: Great news, girls! We got everyone new cell phones, so
now we can keep in touch all the time no matter where we are!
There is an uncomfortable silence as the girls take the phones and grimace
at the thought of speaking to their father for any reason other than to ask
tries desperately to alleviate their chagrin.
Mother: And it has IN, so you can talk to your friends
as much as you want.
The girls’ dispositions brighten dramatically.
Girls: Wow! That’s great!
The girls both hug their mother.
Father: Yea! Group hug!
As Father steps forward to participate in the hug, the girls release their
mother and walk away callously, immediately followed by Mother.
Father: (valiantly trying to remain enthusiastic) Yeah! Okay,
then. This is gonna be good.
The attitude displayed in this ad is one of the saddest commentaries on American
families that I have seen in a while. Here is a functional family with no obvious
problems. The parents are married and apparently have a good relationship.
The girls are not afraid of their father. He isn’t overbearing or abusive.
He seems to adore them and to want to be a part of their lives. He has
supported them from their births. He has protected them and provided for them
lives. He is the one man in the world who would give up his own life for their
benefit without hesitation. But his daughters,
his precious little girls, his beloved princesses, view him as unworthy of
their attention and treat him accordingly.
To make matters worse, the commercial plays
the situation as comedy. I find no humor in it. Sadly, though, many people will
no doubt chuckle at the hapless dad on the basis that "It’s funny because it’s
true." And that’s the saddest thing of all.