The ad campaign for Direct TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket raises the question: if it is despicable, unethical and wrong to do something hateful to another individual because of his race,religion or national origin, can it be cute, funny or socially acceptable to take the same action against someone because of his pro football loyalties?
The Direct TV campaign, depicts the fans of various NFL teams expressing their anger and dismay over the fact that the satellite television service allows neighbors who have recently moved to their area can continue to root for their home town football teams by subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket. In each commercial, a fan expresses his or her hatred for the newcomer by inflicting some form of surreptitious insult, indignity, or attack:
- In Wisconsin, a Green Bay Packers fan welcomes her 49er fan neighbor by leaving a cake on his stoop. The cake reads “DIRT BAG.”
- A group of Patriots fans in wintery Foxboro, Mass. grumble about the Miami Dolphin fan next door (“Moron!” says one woman). One of them throws a shovelful of snow on the Miami fan’s door.
- A Dallas Cowboy fan sends her dog to trash and pee in her Redskin fan neighbor’s house.
- In another Dallas setting, a diner, the waitress expresses her contempt for Philadelphia Eagles fans by secretly squeezing her dishrag into their beers.
Yes, hate is hilarious, isn’t it? And normal. And justified, especially if the person you are hateful to has really asked for it by rooting for a rival of your favorite team.
Or, perhaps, by expressing favor with a public official you don’t like, perhaps, disagreeing with you regarding a subject you feel passionately about, like abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, or the Ground Zero Mosque.
At a time when public discourse is dangerously uncivil, and when public figures like Nancy Pelosi, Sharon Angle, Alan Grayson, Mark Levin, Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck vocally equate differences in political philosophy and policy preference with racism, anti-Americanism, fascism, and stupidity, it is stunningly irresponsible for Direct TV to be portraying hate as a joke. The shovelful of snow? (“Whoops!” the shoveler says.) OK—I’ll give them a pass on that. But a cake reading “Dirt Bag” left on the stoop of a black family in a white neighborhood would be taken as a threat: is it really that much less of an offense if the motivation for the insult is football rather than race? I don’t think so. The reason behind a hateful act isn’t what makes the act unethical—it’s the hateful act itself. Is Direct TV really saying that the same hateful act that would be socially deplorable if motivated by race or religion is merely amusing if the target is the fan of a rival football team? It is significant that none of the fans being persecuted in the ads are black. I guess that spot where the Atlanta Falcons fans burn a cross on the lawn of the Steelers fan next door didn’t make the cut.
Two of the commercials depict crimes: the urinating dog, which is trespass, vandalism and destruction of property, and the waitress putting dishwater in the beer. Yes, they are fictional, but they trivialize a serious social problem. Hateful crimes against person and property are not cute, and they are far too common to be treated in such a cavalier manner. Direct TV’s ads celebrate hateful jerks, and may encourage them.
The campaign is irresponsible, and unhealthy for our culture, especially now. They should be removed.