No One’s Land
This commercial is contradictory and incoherent in that it’s both an exhortation to fully live one’s own life, as well as an admonition not to do so because “the world is a gift.” Of course, to this charge the reply would be that the two are not mutually-exclusive. That (by consuming things such as the advertised product) one can both live one’s own life fully, as well as do so “responsibly”, but that begs the question: why not live or “play” even more “responsibly” and just do nothing? Such questions are not expected to be considered. Individuals who ask, let alone answer, such question is not who this commercial is intended to appeal to.
The people who will like this commercial won’t (at least initially) remember it as an environmentalist tome. Whenever they recall it, what they will instantly remember is that the song “This Land is Your Land” was used to insinuate that “your land” (you, the American viewer) isn’t merely the land within America’s borders, but all of the land (and therefore the cultures) of the entire globe. Why would an American find that notion appealing? Because he’s one who doesn’t believe that America is anything other than one nation and culture among many. That the fundamental unit, on a global scale, isn’t one’s “Americanness”, but his humanity. That if the whole world is America’s, then so too America is the whole world’s.
“What I discovered is that the Modern Liberal looks back on 50,000 years, 100,000 years, of human civilization, and knows only one thing for sure: that none of the ideas that mankind has come up with–none of the religions, none of the philosophies, none of the ideologies, none of the forms of government–have succeeded in creating a world devoid of war, poverty, crime, and injustice. So they’re convinced that since all of these ideas of man have proved to be wrong, the real cause of war, poverty, crime, and injustice must be found–can only be found–in the attempt to be right.
If nobody ever thought they were right, what would we disagree about? If we didn’t disagree, surely we wouldn’t fight. If we didn’t fight, of course we wouldn’t go to war. Without war, there would be no poverty; without poverty, there would be no crime; without crime, there would be no injustice. It’s a utopian vision, and all that’s required to usher in this utopia is the rejection of all fact, reason, evidence, logic, truth, morality, and decency–all the tools that you and I use in our attempts to be better people, to make the world more right by trying to be right, by siding with right, by recognizing what is right and moving toward it…
…What you have is people who think that the best way to …eliminate the attempt to be right is to work always to prove that right isn’t right and to prove that wrong isn’t wrong. You see this in John Lennon’s song “Imagine”: “Imagine there’s no countries.” Not imagine great countries, not imagine defeat the Nazis, but imagine no religions, and the key line is imagine a time when anything and everything that mankind values is devalued to the point where there’s nothing left to kill or die for.
Obviously, this is not going to happen overnight. There are still going to be religions, but they are going to do their best to denigrate them. There are still going to be countries, but they will do what they can to give our national sovereignty to one-world bodies. In the meantime, everything that they teach in our schools, everything they make into movies, the messages of the movies, the TV shows, the newspaper stories that they pick and how they spin them have but one criterion for truth, beauty, honesty, etc., and that is: Does it tear down what is good and elevate what is evil? Does it tear down what is right and elevate what is wrong? Does it tear down the behaviors that lead to success and elevate the ones that lead to failure so that there is nothing left to believe in?”-Evan Sayet
But even that – the denigration of American patriotism – is not the depth that this commercial sinks to.
The song “This Land is Your Land” is a celebration of America. Depending upon how it’s interpreted and which combination of lyrics are used, maybe it’s a celebration of America realizing it’s ideals (capitalism), or maybe it’s a lamentation that America has failed to live up to them (because one believes that socialism is America’s ideal), but in either case, the notion that America has ideals – and that those ideals are unique and good – isn’t under dispute. Even Mid-20th Century socialists like the song’s writer believed in things which were historically unique to America (freedom of movement, speech, artistic expression, etc), so even though (in the less-popular version) they could lament the fact that private property exists, or that people are hungry, they could still recognize America’s superiority, feel genuine love for it, and write a patriotic song about it.
While it is true that humanity could be fundamentally the same – and therefore united – because all people possess the certain basic physical and neurological traits necessary to do so, it is empirically obvious that all people are not the same. That they have intellectual and moral differences which makes global unity impossible. The song “This Land is Your Land” is a recognition of those differences (specifically by being a self-referential celebration of some or all of the, depending upon one’s economic beliefs, the particular intellectual and moral values that distinguish Americans from all other peoples). The culture, however, has reached the point where such things are offensive prima facia. Why? Because they distinguish differences at all. Because they discriminate, period.
The real target of this commercial isn’t America, the poster-child of capitalism, or even patriotism in general (regardless of the country). The real target is evaluation as such. Any evaluation. Any standard. Any meaning. In short: thinking. Thinking, per se.
While people who see this commercial, and approve of it, will tell themselves that they feel the way that they do because they are finally moving beyond the “artificial” boundaries of nation and culture, and towards the (never quite fully defined) value “love”, what they’re really feeling good about is the fact that a song which is (by Americans) widely (even if incorrectly) thought to be an (all too rare) completely unapologetic celebration of “Americanism” is being diluted and rendered impotent. What an exceptional act of destruction!
This commercial is for nihilists, and will only work because nihilism (short of immediate suicide) cannot be practiced consistently. In practice, a nihilist is simply someone with a sense of life based upon a malevolent universe metaphysics, so whenever he is provided with a rationalization such as this one, his misery is momentarily numbed. He is allowed to feel like it’s everyone else (ie: those “patriotic zombies) who lack love and genuine values (blanking out the fact that the very purpose of creating America is to protect values from those who would oppose them), and not him. Jeep knows that this experience is very pleasurable to the nihilist, so it hopes that this commercial will leave enough of an impression that when he thinks of it, he won’t just remember the “love for humanity” he was allowed to feel, but also the fact that Jeep makes America’s most environmentally friendly SUV (which, if he “must live”, since “no one is perfect”, would bring the nihilist at least closer to his ideal: a “responsible” nothing).
It is bone-chilling that a cynical, pragmatic automobile manufacturer – people who have the least incentive to be philosophical, and therefore will only be so if they think it will work (ie: they will promote any philosophy if it helps them make money – calculated that enough Americans would find this ad appealing so as to be willing to air it on the country’s biggest stage (The Super Bowl).