Evasion Through Hyperbole, Redux
These two commercials employ “evasion through hyperbole.” By dramatizing absurd, extremely unlikely scenarios, they allow people to evade something that’s actually occurring within the culture. Is it true that the government – and thus the police – are becoming more and more arbitrary and oppressive? Yes. Absolutely. Is it true that the business community is becoming more and more pretentious, and less and less truly productive? Again, yes. Absolutely (which would explain why America has incurred more debt within the last 15 years than it did in it’s first 220).
These things are so obvious that even the most oblivious, narrowly-focused person cannot help but have an inkling of them. As a result, they experience a certain amount of fear (because there are consequences) and guilt (because they are part of a “self-governing people”). These commercials provide such people with the following rationalizations: “This country couldn’t be headed towards a police state, because if it were then that is the kind of thing that would be happening. That isn’t happening, so I must be misinterpreting something. There must be another explanation for why the things which actually are happening – which I think are arbitrary and oppressive – are happening.” The other one allows the viewer to think “This country’s economy isn’t a ‘bubble’ built upon pretense and posturing – because if it were then things like that would be happening. They’re not, so I must be misinterpreting something. There must be another reason why I have that inkling.”
The effect of such subliminal messages are, not accidentally, a moment’s reprieve from such uncomfortable (but well-founded) feelings. That relief then registers in the memory of the viewer, so that the next time they appear (which these companies know they will – since they are responses to facts), the viewer will remember the experience of being relieved of them. They will then (hopefully) associate that experience with the particular company which provided it for them, think about how they happen to need help with moving, or shipping, or copying, or whatever – and then purchase the product or services being advertised (and from Old Dominion or FedEx in particular, since they “might as well”, since there’s really no significant qualitative difference between competing products and services).