Archive for June 2014
The man represents a certain type of person: the trader. The woman represents another type: the parasite. Virtually everyone in America these days is a mixture of both. Is it so bad that people see the values others possess and always instantly imagine taking them (as opposed to trading for them)? No, but enough people do – enough of the time – that this commercial is expected to work. How will it work? By giving such people a rationalization for their parasitic (ie: fundamentally unAmerican) behavior. That rationalization, in a nutshell, consists of saying to oneself: “that is what a true parasite thinks like. I don’t have thoughts like that, so therefore I must not be a parasite.” (as if the degree of something somehow changes it’s nature). That rationalization provides a moment’s relief from the chronic (and deserved) feelings of guilt and shame which inevitably come from choosing to be a mixture or trader and parasite. It’s evasion through hyperbole.
The way it plays out in this particular commercial is that people know (or at least subconsiously grasp) that it takes quite a bit of parasitical behavior to reach the point – spiritually – where one could be capable of intentionally corrupting her capacity for romance in order to achieve some ulterior value, and so they are able to conclude that because they don’t do so for something so obviously of lesser value such as a Quesarito, that they don’t consitently do such things (and therefore have not reached a spiritual level that is tantamount to doing what the woman in this commercial does). The commercial helps many people evade the fact that they do compromise their capacity for romance in order to have a relationship which “works” (eg: is socially-acceptable, or financially-safe, etc). Or, at the very least, it helps them evade the fact that their fundamentally unAmerican behavior is the acceptance of lesser values (whatever benefits they receive as a result, even if they’re not spiritual), and that doing so comes at the expense of greater values (ie: the long-term maintenance and security of those benefits which – ironically – destroys their capacity to embrace and enjoy true relationships, including romantic ones, once their “practical benefits” allow opportunities for them to come along).
If they skimped on a few other things, virtually every middle-class American could afford (or at least qualify to finance) a brand new Cadillac Escalade. In other words: a Cadillac Escalade isn’t what an Egyptian pharoh, or an Indian maharaja, or an English King would ride in. Why, then, attempt to sell it as such?
The reason is because this commercial isn’t targeting people who would have to skimp in order to drive an Escalade. It’s targeting those are (slightly) better off than the average American. Those who wouldn’t have to skimp. This begs a question, however: why would such people feel complimented by being compared to various types of historical rulers? This is America, after all. An (ostensible) meritocracy. If anything, wouldn’t such accomplished people be (slightly) more likely to feel insulted by the comparison?
The reason why they will feel complimented is because in today’s economy, the way to get ahead isn’t to be objectively more productive, but simply to be more willing to benefit from the use of physical force. To be both innocent and guilty in regards to “tyrant-like behavior”, but to be more guilty than innocent.
The purpose of this commercial is to make the type of behavior that was the hallmark of historical tyrants feel acceptable. By providing the excuse that “it’s been like that forever” (and therefore somehow it’s okay now too), as well as the rationalization that if they didn’t do it to others, others would do it to them (so why not them?), Cadillac gives people who – despite all of the trappings that their “success” brings them – would otherwise feel miserable, a way to feel good for a moment (and thereby hopefully endear Cadillac – instead of Lincoln or Lexus or whatever – to them).
Even though it is laughably pathetic that someone could be so twisted that they truly think that their (slightly) greater wealth is of historical proportions, it is truly bone-chilling to see that evidently enough of the upper middle-class American populace has been more guilty than innocent for enough time now that, psychologically, they identify with pharohs and maharajas and kings, instead of with inventors, industrialists, and even their economically-inferior coworkers and employees (who, economically and morally, are just like they are, and are no threat – even if they’re not as well-performing).
These two commercials employ the same trick that these commercials employ. Taking a legitimate character trait – a steadfast refusal to suffer political oppression – and trivializing it. The problem isn’t that there’s anything wrong with having standards about relatively unimportant things – afterall, the purpose of creating and maintaining a free society is so that one can live and be happy, and meeting one’s standards is an integral part of achieving happiness – but there is definitely something wrong with exploiting those who only have standards about relatively unimportant things.
These commercials are expected to appeal to the American public because the American public, for the most part, allows itself to be pushed around politically (and in fact most readily contribute to the “pushing”, provided it benefits them personally). Most Americans (correctly) feel anxiety and guilt about that. They know (or at least subconsciously sense) that if the “pushing” continues, eventually it will have direct consequences. They also know – or sense – that they could do something about it (even if that means “compromising” one’s standard of living because of a steadfast refusal to be part of the problem). The result of these feelings should be pledging their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors” in order to change things, but McCormick and Terminix would prefer that such emotional energy instead be directed at grilling and pest control.
McCormick and Terminix are hoping that their commercials produce the following rationalization: “I must not be part of the political problems plaguing America today, because if I were, then I wouldn’t have standards. I’m refusing to compromise here, so I must have standards about everything.” That rationalization is hoped to produce a moment’s relief from the (deserved) anxiety and guilt, and then when it comes back – which it will, since it’s a response to facts – the companies hope that the public associates the escape from it not with changing those facts, but with their products – so that in the event that the consumer happens to be in the market for them, they will think of their particular brands.
To employ this trick, ironically, is McCormick’s and Terminix’ contribution to the “pushing around” which is plaguing America, and if one day not even those tactics will work anymore (because the economy will be so bad that people won’t have any option but to compromise on grilling and pest control), they will deserve the consequences.