It’s All Connected
The target demographic for this commercial, obviously, is young people with low incomes and liberal world views. While the commercial does inform the consumer about the product – which is good – in addition to that it attempts to endear Allstate to him emotionally by complimenting him on his method of dealing with life in general. Part of the liberal world view is that anyone who doesn’t share the liberal world view – especially if he is old and wealthy – is presumptuous. Of course, it’s the height of presumptuousness to believe that the older or wealthier you are, the less of a liberal world-view you have – let alone to assume that anyone who is non-liberal is a presumptuous person – but Allstate knows that such people will not realize this contradiction.
The pernicious thing about this commercial is that is helps those who have the liberal world view to believe that the supposed presumptuousness which dominates the world (as if liberalism doesn’t actually dominate it) extends far beyond how non-liberals deal with broader, less-personal issues such as public policy. It helps them to believe that what is wrong with non-liberals is not just that they hold bad ideas, but that they are bad, cynical, nasty, mean-spirited people (ie: that this is how they would treat someone on the street). Of course, by implication, this allows liberals to tell themselves that they are necessarily good people simply by virtue of being liberals; which means that they are encouraged to go on believing their ideas are true and good – in spite of evidence showing that they are neither – simply because they believe them (ie: they are allowed to think “why would a good person like me believe ideas that achieve bad results?”).
That is the pernicious thing about this commercial (to say nothing about how liberals actually behave in public), but the way that it works in it’s perniciousness is – in a more vital respect – even more so. What this commercial is essentially is not even a condemnation of presumptuousness – but rather a celebration of the rejection of the notion of certainty across the board. As bad and twisted as it is, there is an element of truth to the liberal’s claim that non-liberals are presumptuous. It is true that some types of non-liberals are presumptuous about some aspects of life – and so to look at, for example, a group of elderly white men going into a small rural church in the Deep South, it would not be presumptuous on the part of the liberal to conclude that those men would be presumptuous about a black woman suddenly joining them. However, in this commercial, it isn’t the person’s age or his skin color that the elderly white man reacts to, but rather the young man’s personal appearance and individual demeanor (eg: saying “my bad” instead of “my mistake”). Just like it is not an invalid assumption to expect the white men in the church to treat the black woman with suspicion, it isn’t invalid for the elderly white man in this commercial to assume that someone who dresses like he’s poor and who uses pop-culture slang to have cut-rate insurance. Liberals wish to escape responsibility for who they are, and so they attack all acts of thinking as “presumptuousness”, but because all acts of thinking are not presumptuous, they can’t believe that idea for any extended period of time. Not unless they are periodically reminded of it in subtle ways.
Allstate’s goal with this commercial is very specific and delineated: sell a particular type of car insurance to a particular demographic. The fact that it’s specific and delineated isn’t a problem (in fact, the informative elements of the commercial are it’s only redeeming characteristic). The problem is that Allstate has pragmatically determined that the demographic they’re targeting isn’t rational enough to make a personal economic decision based up on the facts alone (they probably aren’t). Allstate has concluded that if they want their business, they must manipulate them emotionally as well. In doing so, what Allstate has actually done is, ironically, further inculcated or perpetuated a world view – and a method of thinking (militant, dogmatic, certain skepticism) – that is the polar opposite of everything a company like Allstate implicitly rests upon. Put into action, the liberal world view and the “principled skepticism” which necessarily accompanies it are Allstate’s greatest threat to profitability and it’s continued existence. It turns out that, eventually, the “practical” thing will prove to be the most impractical thing it could ever do.