Shakers Brent and Lindsey forwarded me the link to this advert for FreeCreditReport.com:
Transcript: [singing] Well, I married my dream girl / I married my dream girl / but she didn't tell me / her credit was bad / So now instead of living in a pleasant suburb / We're living in the basement at her mom and dad's / No, we can't get a loan / for a respectable home / just because my girl defaulted on some old credit card / If we'd gone to Free Credit Report dot com / I'd be a happy bachelor with a dog and a yard.
Let's start by counting how many stereotypes about women were packed into that little number:
1. Women are crazy spenders who run up massive credit card debt on frivolous shit (because this couldn't be "cute" if she'd defaulted on medical bills or some other necessity).
2. Women are financially irresponsible (i.e. running up debt they can't afford).
3. Women can't be trusted (with credit cards, to be honest, etc.).
4. Women are scheming liars who trick men into marrying them (in this case, by hiding debt).
Not bad for 30 seconds and fewer than 90 words.
And that's to say nothing of the commentary on the man who married his "dream girl," only to find out he'd been swindled. Despite having discovered she's dishonest—and wishing he'd uncovered his otherwise perfect dream girl's imperfections before they got hitched, so he could have just gotten himself a dog instead—he's sticking it out. Yay, sanctity of marriage!
He's not going to let her forget it, though, is he? (Watch him give her smug, hectoring looks and shake his head at her each time she walks by.) Nope, having assumed that debt like some Bizarro World dowry, he's going to make sure he gets his money's worth! As B&L point out, "the 'woman [is] working off her debt to the man' by doing laundry while he's standing around playing the soundtrack with his little boy band—it's like a horrible nightmare that you just keep vainly hoping is parodical."
But of course it isn't.
And there's yet another layer of objectionable commentary running through this ad, underlining the pernicious principle that defines our value as individuals by inextricably linking it to our value as consumers. Part of what this guy is so fucked off about is that they should be in a nice house in the suburbs, but aren't—"should be," based on some mysterious arbitrary measure probably resembling something very close to the oh-so-American credo: "If someone else has it, you should have it, too." They don't have a "respectable home," defined, naturally, not by the quality of the family within in, but its square footage.
You know what they say—a happy family is all about location, location, location!
This advert is truly a perfect example of the media we consume all the time, which totally looks like No Big Deal at first blush—but, when you just scratch at the surface a bit, the seemingly innocuous veneer pulls back to reveal a very pointed reinforcement of several disagreeable narratives. Being part of this culture means we're just steeped in this kind of stuff all the time, uncritically internalizing messages that are pretty darn objectionable, when you come right down to it. When I stop to consider how much of this stuff we absorb just in the process of going about our average days, I feel quite despondent at the thought that, without vigilance, we're essentially giant sponges for intellectual shit.
No wonder so many people treat others like garbage, when our heads are filled with rubbish.