Friday, April 11, 2014


One of my very earliest memories is of a television commercial in which a stylishly dressed woman was joyously mopping the floor in an otherwise spotless kitchen.  The mom in the commercial seemed so happy to be mopping, in fact, that I thought my whole family would be better off if only my mom would mop our kitchen floor while wearing a skirt and heels.  Not only did my mother not dress up to clean house, but she wore her oldest clothes.  That did not bode well for her experience of exhilaration.

Or maybe she just needed to use that miracle cleaner that the happy lady used.  That store brand stuff Mom bought was not giving her the euphoria that the advertised brand could provide.  In fact, my mom could be downright grumpy when she mopped our floor.  I remember receiving a particularly angry lecture once while (I swear) she was vigorously mopping a hole in to our kitchen floor.  I don't remember what she was yelling at me about.  The confusing disparity between my mom's angry outburst and the happy tv lady's expression was far more engrossing.

It seems laughable, now, that I once believed women could orgasm over floor washing.  What's more troubling to me, however, is that one of my earliest, most clear memories is of a television commercial.  I don't remember the first time I got money from the tooth fairy or the my first trip to the zoo.  But that television commercial stands out clearly.  

I'm a mom now with a kitchen floor of my very own.  I confess that I rarely mop it, and, to be perfectly honest, I have never felt the rapture when I do.  What's more, I've been known to merely swipe at the biggest spots with a wet towel, ignoring the rest, barely five minutes before the guests arrive.  I felt a momentary pang of failure when I wrote that last sentence.  How are my children ever going to learn to live happy lives if their slothful mother fails to demonstrate the joys of floor mopping?  More seriously, I wonder what my children are learning about who they should (or shouldn't be) from all the advertisements they see?  

Even though we can now fast forward through those inane television commercials (halleluia), I also know that they are being bombarded with so much more advertising than I would have ever thought possible. Buses, trash cans, drink cups and grocery store receipts are plastered with ads.  Sports stadiums are emblazoned with brand names.  Facebook and search engines promote products targeted to their demographic.  The YouTube videos they watch start with a commercial that you must watch for at least a few seconds.  Even movie theaters show commercials before the previews now, and the movie itself subtly promotes those oh-so-carefully placed name brand products.  Mobile billboards and, yes, even forehead advertising, mean the propaganda can follow us wherever we go.  No longer must we suffer a lonely commercial-free walk in the woods, if we plan it right.  

It's hard to say just what my kids are picking up from all of this because advertising has changed so much since the day of those June Cleaver ladies.  In fact, I'm hard pressed to tell you what is being advertised in some of those commercials they show during the Super Bowl.  Clearly, the objectification of women's bodies has not gone out of favor, and finding more ways to trash the planet is hot.  Beyond that, I'm generally at a loss to say.

I'm glad my kids are both book readers.  It occurs to me now that reading may be the only remaining form of entertainment that is entirely free of commercial advertisement.  For my part, I'm doing everything in my power to teach my children to love and accept themselves just as they are and to be respectful, conscious, grateful children of Earth.  The rest I must entrust to their naturally-distrusting teenage minds to discern and discriminate.

Or maybe I should post some of my own ads.  Can I pay Google Adwords to promote directly to my kids the deep satisfaction of floor mopping?  Or the joy of dish washing? Or (and I'd pay a premium price for this) the rapture of toilet bowl scrubbing?

Nah, they wouldn't fall for that.  


This entirely commercial-free blog post was brought to you by...Memory, Sarcasm, and our premier sponsor, Love.

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