I don’t think it’s controversial to say a culture driven by wars between almost indistinguishable sub-par beer-makers is a broken culture. Even someone very open to free markets and very unwilling to declare anything inherently “evil” or “good” would recognize soda wars aren’t real wars, and we shouldn’t invest time or energy in caring about them.
But it seems like we are easily tricked into caring about something we all know is troubling every year on Super Bowl Sunday. We’re shown these clever little bits of comedy or drama or cuteness, and we get so invested in talking about and thinking about which ones we liked, and we even tell everyone else in the room to be quiet because the commercials are on. We kind of forget that, in this crazy game of Super Bowl ads, we are not the judges or the audience. We are the prize.
We are the thing the companies are fighting for. They are competing for our attention without any concern for whether they’re helping us at all, let alone whether we deserve to be treated as human beings. We are the stereotypical “damsel in distress,” the thing the real “heroes” are fighting over. We are the gold medal. We are the object. The thing. We are not participants.
The most unsettling thing about it might be that, even if we all agree GoDaddy’s new commercial is misogynistic and stupid and kind of a waste of time, the fact that we’re talking about GoDaddy means the company still got what it wanted. The waste-of-time, inartful ad worked, so the company thinks it should keep making ads like that. Our act of talking about Super Bowl commercials as a short-film competition means we’re not only being advertised to, we’re begging to be advertised to. We’re complicit in our own exploitation.
I guess I’m not comfortable saying we shouldn’t enjoy these ads, because in fact, some of the greatest creative minds are obviously interested in making ads. It’s a kind of short film, so I wouldn’t say let’s stop enjoying it. But. I can say we should stop enjoying the spectacle of it. We should start approaching the whole thing with a little more skepticism.