It’s harder than ever for parents to instill virtue in their offspring . . . especially in a western culture so thoroughly infiltrated with advertising. The most provocative brands have inserted themselves without obstruction into every facet of a young person’s world: malls, movie theatres, magazines, television, the internet . . . gaining access to the minds of teens, preteens, and “pre-preteens” both in & out of the home. Even toddlers are being subtly conditioned to accept racy images: in a mall near my home, the “Build-a-Bear” shop is located just a few doors down from a huge Victoria’s Secret store. The kiddos can’t miss the life-sized mannequins draped in diaphanous teddies on their way to creating their furry ones. A coincidence? Maybe not . . .
My friend Tanja has a two-year-old daughter who loves Dora the Explorer. Recently Tanja heard about an upcoming change for Dora: “I’m a little concerned about the Nick Jr. ad that boasts ‘Dora like you’ve never seen her before’ all grown up and on her way to see Shakira.” Nick Jr., have your producers ever seen Shakira in concert? . . . I just hate when television tries to make girls grow up too soon.” Yes, and Dora’s handlers seem to have struck a mutually profitable business deal with Shakira’s agents to influence the entertainment choices of future consumers.
Not only must Mom & Dad stand against the tide of unbiblical sexual messages from the “usual suspects”–Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein etc–sometimes they have to stand against . . . Tide™ the laundry detergent. Perhaps you’ve seen the ad linked below which began running last year.
As a Christian parent with 3 daughters, I found this 30-second ad infuriating on several levels:
• The dad’s attempt to protect his daughter’s virtue is portrayed as “a problem to be overcome.”
• The dad takes an indirect, sneaky approach to preventing his teen daughter from wearing an immodest skirt, rather than directly exercising his authority.
• Mom figures out Dad’s scheme immediately, and is determined to undo his efforts with the help of Tide laundry liquid.
• The skirt is “saved,” dad’s scheme is thwarted, and mom becomes the daughter’s heroine for helping her dress like a prostitute. (Sadly, I know too many real moms just like this one who put their girls at risk for sexual assault, pregnancy & other serious consequences.)
• Dad is shown looking dumbfounded at his daughter in the micro-mini that he thought he’d ruined. Missing another opportunity for direct confrontation, he sits helpless & open-mouthed as his daughter condescendingly pats his head on her way out.
• There is no dialogue among the characters, just actions & facial expressions. In the background the rap song I See Girls plays ominously until a female voiceover extols the product’s secret ingredient. The rap lyrics candidly glorify a shallow view of girls.
So what has Tide taught us in a mere half minute? Moral values are outdated . . . marriage is nothing more than a battle-of-the-sexes . . . Mom is savvy & on her daughter’s side . . . Dad is stupid, incompetent and undeserving of respect from his wife & daughter . . . sexy clothes are the norm for teen girls . . . style trumps substance & dignity.
Why would Proctor & Gamble want to associate a long-standing laundry product with such negative messages? The ad’s target audience is clearly mothers. Did the company really believe this storyline would prompt a broad swath of American moms to purchase Tide?
The silver lining of the Tide commercial is that it can be used by wise parents to teach their children discernment about false or unbiblical ideas.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep on washing clothes with my trusty generic laundry detergent.