The Super Bowl is the culmination of America and her people. Football is America’s most watched game. The NFL is the crème of the crop of the world’s greatest football athletes. This year’s Super Bowl was the most watched television event in our history. In short, we know it is all a big deal. It is competition at its finest. Naturally with something as big as the Super Bowl, millions upon millions of dollars are spent during, before, and after the event to be associated before the largest captive audience in television.
While you would hope most of those viewing would be interested in watching and enjoying the actual football game, we know that is just not true. In many cases, given the amount of dollars spent, the advertisements seem to trump the competition itself. The selection and direction of the commercials are always well covered. The annual uncensored, so-called “banned” Super Bowl commercials are a great gag. Yet even more controversial are those that make it through and for some unforeseen reasons, a handful of 15 second to minute long clips are still found offensive.
Two distinct commercials were brought up for being too offensive. One was the Groupon commercial about Tibetan food discounts in Chicago. The other was the Pepsi Max ad with the angry girlfriend. Both were brilliant.
The Groupon ad features Timothy Hutton explaining the perils of the Tibetan peoples. “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy.” He then turns it around to explain how he was able to cash in on a Groupon.com discount at a Tibetan restaurant with exceptional fish curry. Presumably, some Chinese were offended that they turned a negative reference to China’s occupation of Tibet into a push for food. Chinese bloggers mentioned Groupon will fail once it enters into the Chinese market because of a one-time ad during an American football game. I highly doubt that. On the other side of the aisle, people felt the occupation was belittled by the focus on getting half-priced Himalayan food. Andrew Mason has since written an apologetic letter and explanation over the controversy. While I am not a Groupon user, I want to applaud its original marketing staff for mixing the two and making a clever ad. I doubt Groupon will lose any significant number of customers in comparison to the new customers brought in from that ad and the publicity windfall thereafter.
The Pepsi Max ad in question features a man trying to eat ‘junk’ food on different occasions. Each time his girlfriend inflicts him with mild physical violence over discontent of his eating habits. Finally he is at a bench about to enjoy a Pepsi Max when his girlfriend shows up. He graciously offers her one as she acknowledges that it is a ‘healthier alternative.’ A very attractive female jogger enters the scene and attracts the attention of the man, which triggers his girlfriend to throw the full soda can at him. He ducks and it hits the other woman in the head. She gets knocked out and the couple runs off.
This nearly silent physical humor reminded me of later Charlie Chaplin films, where nothing seems to go his way. Unfortunately, a few people assumed there was a racist agenda to the clip. Since the angry woman was black, supposedly the film was pushing the “angry black woman” stereotype. Call me clueless or colorblind, but I was not aware of this ridiculous stereotype. I know plenty of angry women of all colors. As a rule, I try to steer clear of mean women altogether. I was only aware that the man was not wearing the pants in the relationship and that the couple may want to seek counseling for domestic violence. I would suggest he leave altogether, but this is obviously fictional and will stay that way. We only have people like the Honorable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who brought it up on the House floor, to thank for bringing light to this stereotype and attempting to ruin one of this year’s most entertaining ads. No matter what race and gender mix you replace for each of those roles, this silly commercial would be just as entertaining. Black or white, Drink more Pepsi:
You never hear of former complaints towards the coaches and players mouthing silent four-letter words across the field or the fact that truly violent aggression is occurring play after play. Nothing about football is safe, soft, or proper. It is a few seconds of face-to-face brute strength and on-the-fly strategy. If you actually want to censor bad habits and dangerous activities from our society, take a look at the life expectancy stats of professional linemen. I then ask you to take a look at their starting salaries. Both should remain respected.
Then again we should expect someone to be offended by something. If everyone and their mother in the nation is watching, no one will leave pleased. In short, back off and let the talent that can turn a brief moment into thirty seconds of masterpiece keep creating. Please don’t tip toe around creativity and comedy because of a few complaints. We can be sure that the motives behind the complaints towards these G-rated advertisements are just as genuine as the motives for this article: read me, watch me, let me have my two cents, etc. God willing, as Americans we should continue to have the right to this dialogue. No matter how dry the conversation gets. In hindsight, the most offensive thing that night was actually The Black Eyed Peas performance.
Follow TheSimpleton on Twitter. The Simple Corner is TheSimpleton’s weekly opinion column, which publishes on Mondays.