Final Thoughts On The “Turn Back Time” DirecTV Ad, The Response To My Post, And Callousness Toward Life

It’s not on TV any more, but to refresh your memory:

I’m usually a poor judge of the posts that attract controversy here.  The Ethics Alarms commentary about the Jon Bon Jovi DirecTV ad showing the fading rock star singing the virtues of a “turn back time” feature that will allow subscribers to the satellite service to watch shows from the beginning after they have already run is now five weeks old, and it is still drawing traffic and–I also didn’t see this coming—abusive responses. I haven’t changed my mind about the ad being gratuitously and smugly callous and promoting societal indifference toward children, but I have learned some things from the responses to my pointing it out, especially the angry ones.

This blog isn’t called Ethics Alarms for nothing. Its objective is to help people be more sensitive to ethical issues and the right way to handle them, as well as to give them tools to keep their ethics alarms in working order. My ethics alarms were always unusually sensitive–being raised by my father will do that—and have become progressively more sensitive with attention, trial and error, and study. They aren’t perfect, but when they go off, they go off. If I can find out what they are ringing…training and experience help with that…then I will often write a post about the reason they rang out. My alarms went off every time that DirecTV ad came on, but it took me about four viewings to analyze why.  Then I wrote the post.

The commercial has Bon Jovi explaining what’s so great about being able to “turn back time”: in addition to letting you watch the show you missed, he notes that you can have the mild salsa you turned down for a spicy variety, and retroactively decide not to have that second child you now regret. The child is shown drawing on the wall with crayons, and he vanishes as the crayons he was holding fall to the floor. The parents smile. Bon Jovi smirks.

I wrote,

“Why isn’t it immediately obvious that this shows antipathy to children, boys, and human beings generally? The human being who was made to go away because he was inconvenient and burdensome couldn’t have been a girl, because it would be a “war on women,” and the family couldn’t be Hispanic or black, because that wouldn’t have been funny, but a white couple erasing their son from existence because he misbehaves—now that’s comedy gold.”

The comments to the post made me realize that there is antipathy to children, and the concept of turning back time to eliminate an unwanted life is acceptable, and thus no big deal, to a large portion of our culture.

This is what abortion is, after all: turning back time so everything is as if that gestating human being was never conceived, and never existed. All gone! Problem solved! This is the attitude pushed by the pro-abortion establishment, which will brook no claim that a woman choosing to abort a fetus should feel anything negative about the act….you know, like the parents who no longer have to take care of that brat who keeps drawing on the wall. My position is that this attitude is unethical, and ultimately corrupting.

I see no practical or ethical way to force a woman to have a child she doesn’t want, but while it may make it easier for women to have abortions when they don’t bother to consider that what they are doing is ending a human life, such an attitude toward life ultimately corrupts the culture and humanity. We saw this effect in the horrible casualness of the Planned Parenthood employees as they blandly discussed the slicing and dicing of fetuses as if they were putting junk mail through the shredder. “Turning back time” to make a human life disappear should not be cause for smirking. It should be a decision undertaken with full understanding of what is involved, and the gravity of it. Shame? Guilt? No, these don’t have to be involved. Regret? Maybe. But certainly there should be a feeling that it is not nothing; that something has been lost, that in a desperate trade-off, a potential life and all that it could mean to that vanished individual, everyone he or she might have interacted with, and the society that would have been changed has been sacrificed to, one hopes, a greater good.

The DirecTV add is both, I think, a product of the increasingly accepted believe that a terminated child’s life is nothing, and contributes to it. It also bolsters this cultural belief by making viewers endorse it—by laughing at it, by watching it, bu becoming numb enough to the ugly values it represents to subscribe to DirecTV.

Back in the Forties and well into the Fifties, Hollywood censors insisted that movies had to show good conduct being rewarded and bad conduct being punished, This was a breach of artistic freedom, of course, but they had the right idea. Popular culture very powerfully influences cultural values in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. You can try to convince me that the casual treatment of promiscuous sex and pot use shown in movies and eventually television didn’t strongly reinforce these cultural trends and the breaking down of the one-time consensus that both were wrong and destructive, but the data is heavily on my side. Showing cigarette smoking by lead characters on TV shows is virtually unheard of now; banning TV tobacco ads came long before that, and was also an acknowledgment that TV commercials had the power to mold societal trends and taboos.

The frequent argument in the negative posts on my first DirecTV critique that “it’s only a commercial” is obtuse. Commercials are carefully designed to appeal to impulses and create positive feelings, while connecting the product being sold with good feelings. The presumed good feelings in the “turn back time” DirecTV ad came from humor, the presence of Bon Jovi (for some) , and the belief that making a child vanish forever wouldn’t create negative feelings. Nobody in the post comments rebutted my examples above that wouldn’t have been safe, and i mentioned others in the thread. The fact that DirecTV thought this content was safe tells us where our culture is heading. The fact that a large communications company thinks the concept of making children vanish is positive and saturates the media with such a “joke” also makes the company an active accessory in promoting the concept that wiping out kids is “nothing” in American society.

Maybe it is nothing, now.

 It’s still nothing to be proud of.

Among the critics, which were disproportionately nasty ( I have seldom banned more commenters on a single post), and so nasty I wonder if the bitterness was fueled by the realization that maybe their ethics alarms were less sensitive than they should be, the fact that the ad was intended to be humorous appeared to constitute a full defense. In a comedy club or in a movie comedy indeed almost anything goes, with the only requirement be that it be funny. A commercial, however, is not a comedy act, and tougher standards apply. Many of the critical commenters accused me of having no sense of humor, though I never said that the ad wasn’t funny. Lots of jokes are funny that shouldn’t be made in broad public forums. Name the worst kind of joke you can think of, and if you really do have a sense of humor, I bet one of them can make you laugh. That doesn’t mean that such jokes will not do tangible harm if the culture decides to embrace them or tolerate them outside of specialized forums. And I must ask: you would object to a rape joke, a disabled joke, a racist joke, a Jewish joke, or a misogynist joke, so why is a joke about a family grinning while their son is sent to oblivion acceptable in a TV ad?

It is acceptable to those who do not find the idea of making a child retroactively vanish troubling enough to make them uncomfortable. They need to ask themselves why that is, not ask me if I understand time travel.

Aside: The ad itself does not appear to understand time travel. If the child was never born, then there would be no marks where he drew on the wall, and no crayons on the floor. Contrary to the furious rationalizing of the ad’s defenders, Bon Jovi doesn’t make a reality where the child never existed. The reality we see is one where a child was once there, and the evidence that of his existence remains.

65 thoughts on “Final Thoughts On The “Turn Back Time” DirecTV Ad, The Response To My Post, And Callousness Toward Life

  1. I find myself watching commercials and getting snacks while the programming is on. Commercials are incredibly well done and compelling, certainly compared to regular programming. They are short and compact and invariably well done. And very often humorous.

    My biggest objection with TV since the early ‘sixties is the non-stop attack on fathers. It’s terrible and relentless. http://nypost.com/2016/06/14/how-disney-teaches-contempt-for-dads/

  2. ” The ad itself does not appear to understand time travel. If the child was never born, then there would be no marks where he drew on the wall, and no crayons on the floor”

    Exactly. He’s been made to disappear, not to have never existed. What do they do next? Wash the crayon off the walls and give away all his stuff?**Shudder**

    I hadn’t revisited that thread, that was wild! Horrible. Too many people mistakenly think that sarcasm is an indicator of intelligence, and use it with abandon. If they can outsnark you, they’ve ‘won’. The ones who tell you don’t think you so smart, on your own blog, are the ones that really blow me away.

    There is a lot of contempt for children these days. There are all kinds of ugly vulgar ways they are referred to and they are often treated like nuisances. Women who have children are called ‘breeders’ these past few years as well. I don’t understand it. We were all babies once, and no one can say they never disturbed anyone in babyhood.

    Other Bill, I know what you are talking about, I’ve seen it many times. One AT&T commercial mocked a father for offering to help her with her homework. I hated that one. I think it’s been 10 years or more now, that fathers have been portrayed as stupid and unnecessary. I used to write EVERY time they came out with another one, whatever company it was. It’s shovelling against the tide. I still write letters occasionally, but no where near the volume I used to. No one’s listening.

        • The attack on fathers dates from at least “All in the Family” and Norman Lear. There may have been other earlier examples but I can’t think of them.

          TV sitcoms are much worse than commercials. Even mild shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” essentially attack guys in general and fathers in particular. And it is unrelenting. And very toxic.

          • These couple of weeks have been awful on the net, the usual political fighting plus harassing the family of the boy who got into the gorilla enclosure, then the alligator episode and ‘those people who want separate bathrooms caused Orlando’, nothing but attacking and sniping everywhere. I have FB to keep up with relatives, but I hate looking at it lately. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much arguing, or pushily posting the same memes over and over.

            I generally stay away from sitcoms, I don’t enjoy them. I tried watching ELR on a plane once, but couldn’t sit though it. Whatever you watch, you see the commercials, though. I probably should pay attention to that type of program, and oppose them. I have written to TV producers on occasion, however, the commercials are replayed so often and often have catchy phrases or music that makes them stick even in kids’ minds, so I’d write when I saw a bad one, and so ended up writing regarding commercials much more often.

            I agree, it is relentless. All in the Family wasn’t allowed in our house, I’ve never seen it, just a couple clips on Youtube. I had the impression that Archie ruled the roost, but then again, I’ve hardly watched it. I started reading sites and writing letters after being shocked by those T-shirts, ‘Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them’ and continued whenever something came across my path. About 13 years, now that I think of it. I’ll keep plugging away. I really hope people come to their senses.

          • I guess you are too young to remember The Honeymooners, and its cartoon parody, The Flintstones. It is called using stereotyping for humor. Sometimes it is right on the target, sometimes only assigns traits to groups of people who suffer discrimination on the basis of those stereotypes.

            • Also “The Life of Riley” and “The Great Gildersleeve,” both radio hits brought to 50’s TV, and both starring idiot fathers.

              The original idiot father was the main character in the 1939 Broadway hit “Life With Father,” (also a hit movie later) which still is the longest running Broadway play of all time. And its plots and subplots turned up on many a sitcom.

  3. I, too, did not follow that post because I agreed with it and had nothing of substance to add to it. I have to admit that my ethics alarms didn’t go off about that commercial until I read your post, Jack. Now I can’t see that commercial without cringing in pain from the din I hear from my own ethics alarms. And I thank you.

    What I don’t understand is why DirectTV chose negative images (child gone, boyfriend/husband replaced) for the “turn back time” concept. I can think of many funny ways that the concept could have been shown in a commercial that would have been positive images.

    As someone who has known you for decades, I laugh at the thought that you have no sense of humor. Warped as it may be at times, you have an intense sense of humor. Those who use that accusation are ignorant of the effects that professional marketing can have on our sponge-like psyches.

    • The answer to your question is what I hate about the ad. They choose the boyfriend/husband replaced because they are trying to sell men their product, and they are playing on men’s insecurity in their relationships. Our product will help your marriage, if you are insecure in your relationship this product will help you. I view the disappearing child in a similar vein. They view men as insecure, emasculated, unhappy people who dislike family life. They play on fear and frustration, negative emotions, to motivate a sale. I’m sure it works, which says something else…

      • I see the husband replacement as a nudge-nudge wink-wink you go girl thing. That’s pitched to women, the better husband she could have in the wink of an eye, that perfect boyfriend from decades ago.

        • You’re right, I’m thinking of the Amazon fire commercial, the show hole one where they can’t find a show to watch and the bed starts to drift apart…

  4. If you turn back time, then the child never existed. The parents would have never known that they had a child at all. If the ad involved a parent shooting their son in the head and then living the rest of their lives knowing that they had a son, and that they killed him, that would be monstrous.

    • As you will see on the link,DirecTV took down the child-vanishing ad to replace it with the Husband-replacing ad. It would be nice if my objection had any part in the substitution. I doubt it.

  5. Hi Jack,

    I just wanted to let you know that the ad, which I saw before I read your post about it, didn’t set off my ethics alarms. When I read your post on it, it made me wonder why it hadn’t set off my ethics concerns. (I guess I’m writing mostly to tell you that your goal on this site is working, at least with one reader).

    I decided that the reason that it didn’t set off my ethics alarms was because it was SO unethical, that my brain translated it into something ethical. (“That’s obviously exploiting how the parents feel in just that brief moment…two seconds after the commercial, the mothers obviously going to demand Jon Bon Jovi to return the child. Any mother would do that.”). Except that when you pointed out how unethical the ad was, I realized that maybe not all mothers would do that. Furthermore, the ad is obviously heart breaking to any person who has known the pain of losing a child (like that poor family vacationing in Disney World.)

    I whole heartedly agree that this is not an appropriate commercial, and I’m glad they removed it. I don’t think this new commercial is ethical either, but it’s a slight improvement.

    While I have known people I respect, who believe humor and laughter is always enough to justify any position, I’ve never subscribed to that view.

    I do think we have gotten away from caring for children, but more than that, we’ve gotten away from caring about the values and the bonds in the family unit itself.

    And even more fundamental than that, we’ve stopped being a society who stops for a moment and thinks about the mother or father who may have lost a child.

    When I was young, I went to the funeral of an infant child whose mother was the daughter of the woman who baby-sat me in the years before Kindergarten. I can literally still remember her screaming at the people in the graveyard: “Don’t you bury my baby!”, over and over again. The people who made that ad wouldn’t have scrapped the concept immediately, if they had been at that funeral.

    Finally, I don’t know when we forgot that children are our most precious, beautiful, and amazing resource, but it’s time we remembered again. After that awful tragedy in Disney World, I read one Facebook commenter who wrote: “Another innocent animal killed because parents can’t parent their kids.” I didn’t say anything because it wouldn’t do any good, but personally I feel they should shoot that alligator, and then they should find where that Facebook commenter lives, and shoot him.

    If you think the death of a child is funny, it’s only because you’ve never watched a mother bury her child. But even if you never watched a mother bury her child, it only takes a little bit of empathy to consider how such a mother might feel.

    Except we seem to have collectively, as a nation, lost our sense of empathy. We’ve got to get it back, or we’re going to live in a nightmare nation of assholes.

    Best,

    Jeff

    • Thank-you Jeff. I revisited the post because so many of the comments were negative, and seemed to come from people already hardened to this kind of joke. Lovely, open comment, the very best kind.

      • “Lovely, open comment, the very best kind” Wow… You say that to a comment which publicly calls for hunting down a facebook commenter and shooting them? Meanwhile, this is posted under an article written by you (falsely) accusing a commercial of promoting child killing? And you say I don’t know what hypocrite means?… “What a hilarious argument!” It is truly disturbing that you call yourself an ethicist.

    • So let me get this straight, you think that people need to be more empathetic to those who have lost their children over a commercial that doesn’t make any jokes about kids dying? Yet, you think that a Facebook commenter should be hunted down and shot because he thinks that the parents of a kid who was eaten by an alligator at Disney world may have been negligent for letting that happen? Well, so much for ethics and empathy for that matter.

      • I think it is significant that 3 of the 3 direct TV commercials with Bonjovi show some disrespect for traditional “American Family Values”. Perhaps the producers were going for a satirical comedy but it comes off offensive if you pay attention to the underlying message. There is a lack of respect for older generation (grandpa Tim), children (disappearing kid) and the institution of marriage (disappearance of husband). Time travel is a subject that has been of great interest for years (Back to the Future trilogy for example). I fast forward through these commercials or mute the TV. I have lost respect for one of my favorite artists, Jon Bongiovi, and will not be switching to Optimum.

      • There is so much in normal conceptual discourse that you misunderstand, can’t understand, or pretend to misunderstand.

        Let;s see a show of hands: how many readers thought Jeff thinks “that a Facebook commenter should be hunted down and shot?” Ofay, got it: ONE Now,

        How many understand that when someone says “I felt like” followed by violent imagery, they are stating how angry and outraged they were, and how unfeeling the individual’s comment were that inspired these thoughts?” Hmmm—almost everyone.!

        See, Jeff was being open and honest about his feelings, and not “advocating” anything. Now, on the other hand, though you feel that is offensive, if he made a DirecTV commercial that actually SHOWED him hunting down and killing that commentator, and Bon Jovi and onlookers smiled, you would say that was a funny “satire”,

        What, you wouldn’t? Oh, because that would be offensive, since it was shooting a clueless Facebook commentator and not eliminating an innocent child from existence, which would be okay, because that idea is a proper topic for “satire” in a commercial about satellite TV.

        • Are you really going to try and defend this one? That’s sad, Jack. There is nothing morally right about calling for the death of a facebook commenter no matter how angry or outraged they are.

        • “but personally I feel they should shoot that alligator, and then they should find where that Facebook commenter lives, and shoot him.” -Jeff

          This isn’t advocating? Let’s look at the definition.
          Advocating: to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.

          It seems to me Jack, you’re trying to gaslight me and many others by accusing us of not understanding discourse and terms we’re using but it really seems like you are the one who doesn’t understand the discourse and words YOU’RE using. Either that or you’re trying to manipulate others you feel are less intelligent into thinking they know nothing when they actually have great points. Very ethical, Jack.

          • Yes, I’m trying to gaslight you.
            You’re a barrel of laughs.

            No, that’s not advocating: in fact, it’s exactly like making the child disappear: its hyperbole and not intended as genuine advocacy. If Jeff’s sentiment–how the message made him feel—was part of a TV ad, I would write a post about how that imagery dangerously endorses the kind of anger and vengeance-driven shooting violence we see proliferating, and I would say it, like the ad in question, is ugly and irresponsible. A comment to a post on a blog 99.99999999 per cent of the nation neither reads nor cares about (or, in your case, is capable of understanding) does not have the same standards applied to it.

            In addition, I know Jeff, he knows me, and I understand what he meant, and that he was not advocating actual violence, but how that callous post made him feel.

            • That’s funny because according to the official definition of advocacy his words are most definitely advocating that. And his sentiments are NOT exactly like the child disappearing in the commercial because this is talking about shooting a real person in real life. It’s funny how this site is all about being ethical and politically correct but you’ve failed at both in the article and in the comment section. You’re not even academically correct at this point. You can’t refute the meaning of the word advocate, nor can you say that Jeff’s words don’t fall in line with the definition. I’m just pointing out that you’re a hypocrite and that your biased behavior goes against everything your arguing. You can try and tell me I don’t understand what I’m talking about but you’re only fooling yourself. I’m not the one who looks stupid right now.

    • You are right about how this ad affects the emotions of a person that lost a child or grandchild. It’s the pain you never recover from, the grief that never ends. The suggestion of turning back time to erase a child’s existence is never funny to the millions that have buried a child or grandchild. It’s insensitive and not humorous in any way.

  6. Hi! I just discovered your blog today through a link in the comments section of a DC story about the cognitively impaired Harvard lawyer suing the NY bar examination board – ya just can’t make this stuff up!! 🙂 (By the by, you’re exactly right regarding that situation)

    I don’t watch commercials. The TV shows I do watch are all DVRed and we fast forward through the commercials. I have seen the very beginning of one version of this commercial – don’t know which one caused I’ve not watched the entire commercial, lol. I wasn’t even sure that was Bon Jovi – he sure does not look how I remember him….

    My childhood wasn’t that great nor was my marriage. However, my two children are the best, most wonderful part of my life! I could not, would not, change any part of my childhood or my marriage because then I would not have my two children. I would not change one little, tiny piece of either of them for anything in this world. Not the happiest childhood, the happiest marriage…not even if I was guaranteed everything I ever wanted in life.

    I don’t understand people and I don’t understand this world. Animals are protected, but our most defenseless, our most precious – our own flesh and blood – are thrown away, willingly abused and killed.

    I’d like to get off this ride now….

  7. I’m as surprised as you that people don’t get it. Just about the worst thing you can say to a child is “I wish you had never been born.” The couple in the commercial actually MEANT it, an were glad when it came true. In the context of a lighthearted TV commercial, it comes across as really jarring and nasty. The joke, if I were an effective one, would be that the couple are sadistic and evil and don’t love their second child. But that couple is supposed to represent DirecTV’s customers. It’s just about
    As big a failure at humor as an ad man could have spewed from his sick brain.

  8. And I see many echoes in this conversation with the ever-popular abortion defense regarding sick/handicapped/poor/abused children: that abortion is a mercy compared to the life they would otherwise lead. I’m always horrified whenever that one is trotted out – life is life, and a single moment of peace, happiness, contentment, or even merely self-realization makes any existence better than death.

  9. I find the not so hidden message in this commercial very disturbing. I have lost respect for Direct TV and Bonjovi for selling out by taking part in a TV commercial. He’s a multi-millionaire and self proclaimed philanthropist. How could he be so ignorant or greedy?

  10. For those that think this commercial was taken off TV, I saw it for the first time on July 4. Very maddening content for viewing on the day we celebrate the birth of our country.

    • Are you sure you’re talking about the same ad? A third Bon Jovi ad debuted today, in which the kicker is that “Grampy Tim” is brought back to life so everyone can “say goodbye” to him.

      • I saw that commercial soon after and found it just as repulsive. It showed disregard for the older generation which should be respected. Both commercials are not humorous but in poor taste.

  11. You’re the type of person everyone hates who has to find a problem in EVERYTHING, just for an excuse to be offended or something to wine about. The joke is all parents fantasize about life before kids, not that they’d EVER change it. Ugh, you’re the kind of person who would sue McDonalds for getting fat.

    • I’m also the kind of person who will point out that “suing McDonald’s for getting fat” (which, I’ve explained elsewhere, is unethical ) and criticizing a TV ad that thinks the promoting the pleasure of making you child vanish forever as ugly cultural bile and part of the ongoing campaign against having kids are not similar in any way, meaning that you wouldn’t know a valid analogy if it crawled up your nose.

  12. To anyone who is truly awestruck, and uproariously offended by this commercial, GET A GRIP! This goes especially for you, Jack Marshall. This commercial is not meant to be taken seriously, yet you find it necessary to manipulate the intent of the ad and sound off your “ethics alarms” to create controversy and get hits on your page. Talk about a soulless, and indignant endeavor… Your article is whiny garbage, and it is not rooted in logical cognitive perception. Give the world a break and lighten up. The whole point of a joke is that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. You’re calling it child killing, and pro-abortion, and It’s just laughable and ridiculous to bring it into that arena. The commercial is joking about a couple wanting to watch TV, and they’re being interrupted by an unruly child, and the joke’s intent is to say that in that moment of wanting to watch TV the couple may regret having a second child in that instant. It’s an ill-conceived sentiment, but it’s not one that is meant to be taken literally. All of these conclusions can be realized through the exercise of using what is known as common sense. It seems to me that you have some sort of displaced anger going on and you’re projecting it onto DirecTV.

    • The ad is meant to sell subscriptions: that’s serious by definition. If it was a skit on “Funny of Dies,” wouldn’t bother with it. Of course it isn’t mant to be taken literally, just as it wouldn’t mean it literally if it showed the couple rejoicing over their newly delivered slaves. A society that isn’t being made progressively more callous toward life and children would never be viewed as a receptive audience to a commercisl that suggests that ANY couple would be glad to make their kid disappear.

      We try to teach children not to encourage or take part in “jokes” that denigrate women, blacks, minorities, Jews and gays, because they are historically vulnerable to abuse and oppression. Nobody is more vulnerable than children.

      You didn’t present an argument, just “lighten up!” and amateur psychoanalysis. A pathetic comment, really.

      • Actually, much to the contrary, I presented a lucid and clearly thought out argument which states that a joke in an ad shouldn’t be taken seriously because it was not intended by the writer to be taken seriously. Therefore, you are misinterpreting the ad at no fault but your own, and slandering the company by manipulating the facts and intent within the ad. I’d be willing to bet there are little to no children or disaffected social groups in an uproar over the commercial, just you. Are you a child? Or are you a child rights activist? Who are you to say what’s offensive to a group when you’re not even a part of said group? You’re just indirectly telling people why they should be offended because of your personal ill-perceived view of a comedic ad for a cable company. The only “pathetic comments” on here are made being made by you for turning your sensitivity meter up to 11 and taking things the wrong way.

        • Also, it is completely ridiculous to assert that because the ad intends to sell subscriptions then the ad is “serious by definition.” I guess that means that “by definition” there is no such thing as a comedic ad, and that ALL jokes in advertisements must be taken as serious statements. That is a far-reaching, egregious proposition that makes little sense from a logical or ethical standpoint. I guess your theory isn’t surprising considering your stance that this commercial advocates child-killing and abortion by subversively insinuating that “ANY couple would want their child to disappear” even though there is no hard evidence of your claims in the commercial. The actual quote from the ad’s jingle is, “maybe reconsider having that 2nd child.” In no way does that even subliminally promote killing children, nor does it take a pro-abortion stance given that it is alluding to a hypothetical chance to “maybe reconsider” what is more likely than not intended to be a premeditated pregnancy. Moreover, the words “maybe reconsider” do not definitively advocate any intention or act, and especially within the comedic context of the commercial, it is abundantly clear that it is meant as a mean-spirited joke and nothing more. To be that offended, or to draw such extreme conclusions in a public forum about an intentionally and overtly satirical commercial is obnoxious, slanderous, and hypocritical considering your open admission to liking dead baby jokes. Regardless, there are much worse things going on in the world today regarding unethical behavior and it seems socially irresponsible to be focusing on an intentionally silly DirecTV commercial when you could “maybe reconsider” focusing your attention on something that’s actually meaningful and rooted in reality.

          • Try to keep up. I said that a comedic ad is not to be judged by the same standards as a comedy video, because it is commercial speech, and seeking to sell a product by appealing to a market, not just by getting a laugh. Thus its “jokes” assert what acceptable public values are. This isn’t “satire”—what’s being satirized? It’s black humor. Deal with my hypotheticals: would DirecTV have dared shown a handicapped kid disappearing? A burdensome elderly parent? A Down Syndrome child? A black child? A girl? No…it chose a white, misbehaving boy. That signals that this set of characteristics—white, child, male…is a safe object for hate and removals, and thus can be “funny.”

            The actual quote from the ad’s jingle is, “maybe reconsider having that 2nd child.” In no way does that even subliminally promote killing children, nor does it take a pro-abortion stance given that it is alluding to a hypothetical chance to “maybe reconsider” what is more likely than not intended to be a premeditated pregnancy.

            What? The song lyrics are accompanied by a child vanishing into oblivion as the parents smile. You have to be Orwellian in the extreme to argue that showing a living child disappear from existence doesn’t equal ending the child’s life. That’s exactly what it does, and shows. How do you justify twisting facts like that?

            “Regardless, there are much worse things going on in the world today regarding unethical behavior and it seems socially irresponsible to be focusing on an intentionally silly DirecTV commercial when you could “maybe reconsider” focusing your attention on something that’s actually meaningful and rooted in reality.”

            Tell you what: the next post you offer better include the statement that you read the Comment policies and perused the Rationalizations list, because you just nicked both: 1) There are 7000 posts here on all ethics issues large and small. Big lessons come from what some regard as trivial episodes. Your idiotic : “why don’t you write about more important things?” is specifically banned as presumptuous, unfair, and annoying. 2) see Rationalization #22.

        • Actually, much to the contrary, I presented a lucid and clearly thought out argument which states that a joke in an ad shouldn’t be taken seriously because it was not intended by the writer to be taken seriously.

          I didn’t say that the joke was serious; I said that ads are serious enterprises. They are designed to appeal, not to offend. The use of an ugly joke in a message designed to attract business presumes that that the message in not offensive. The ad’s position is that alluding to ending one’s child’s life is not offensive. That is a cultural statement.

          Therefore, you are misinterpreting the ad at no fault but your own, and slandering the company by manipulating the facts and intent within the ad.

          Let’s see: you don’t know what satire is and you don’t know what slander is.

          I’d be willing to bet there are little to no children or disaffected social groups in an uproar over the commercial, just you.

          More proof of your ethical ineptitude. The ad is sinister precisely because it slips a subversive anti-child message into a “light-hearted” commercial. I’m an ethicist who looks at popular and commercials culture. The fact that I might be in a minority doesn’t prove a thing about the validity of my position. You endorse the unethical standard of “follow the mob.”

          Are you a child? Or are you a child rights activist? Who are you to say what’s offensive to a group when you’re not even a part of said group?

          What a hilarious argument! So unless one is in a class directly affected by a toxic cultural trend, it shouldn’t matter! Great thinking there, SA. Wow.

      • You can berate my views with your condescending responses and false air of superiority all you want, but your arguments regarding satire in commercials, and social ethics are growing less valid by the day. I’m not sure what world you’re living in, but millennials are the most PC generation by far in the history of America. Society is doing just fine with teaching its children the right values, so I doubt a satirical DirecTV commercial will threaten that. If anything, millennials are too sensitive and too PC about a lot of things. Case in point, those who are offended by this commercial. You talk about satire as if it’s a gateway drug to moral anarchy. Sure, you can draw all types of slippery slope conclusions about “the power to turn back time” but really that’s just YOU inserting slaves into the equation and misinterpreting and manipulating the actual elements presented in the commercial. It’s hypocritical that you say it’s okay to laugh at a comedian’s joke about dead babies, but it’s not okay to laugh at a satirical DirecTV commercial because it’s selling a product. Commercials on the whole are becoming increasingly comedic and less politically correct as time goes on. The reason being that people would rather be entertained for 30 seconds than sit through another mind numbing cookie cutter commercial that they’ll forget before it even ends. People like edgy, controversial content. It’s no mistake that some of the most popular TV shows in history are shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos. For a company that offers a platform of networks, (including the ones that aired all these shows) it seems like maybe DirecTV knows its target audience.

        • You’re just repeating the same empty arguments I have already rebutted. Add “Hypocritical” to the concepts you don’t comprehend, though.

          Remember: after this, I need a statement that you’re read the comments policies and the Rationalizations list, or you don’t get any more comments published.

          • Yes, I read the comment policies and rationalizations list. Judging by your responses though, I’m not sure if you actually read all of my points.

            Starting with your first response:

            I’m going to refrain from analyzing the hypothetical examples you’ve proposed, such as the ones regarding slavery, minorities, handicapped people (etc.) because a large part of my argument is that you’re unfairly inserting these hypothetical elements that don’t actually exist in the framework of the commercial. Clearly, inserting slaves into “The Power to Turn Back Time” would be offensive, but DirecTV did not do that, so there’s no real argument there, just hyperbole. The real argument at hand here is a child disappearing on screen and whether or not that is considered murder. Given that the theme of the commercial is “The Power to Turn Back Time” they’re referring to the ability to go back in time to before the child was born to reconsider their decisions about a second pregnancy, thus, NOT overtly murdering the child. Maybe you just don’t understand the concept of time travel. At best this raises a philosophical question of whether or not going back in time to prevent a pregnancy is considered murder. However, given that the commercial never definitively specifies the couple’s intentions on that matter, it is unfair to assume their choice. Furthermore, in the commercial, Bon Jovi is presenting them with potential options to take advantage of being able to go back in time and do things over, and the couple is observing his propositions and NOT acting out their own decisions. Therefore, (as I’ve stated several times already) you’re just misinterpreting the commercial and manipulating the facts to create controversy that isn’t actually there, and content for your site. In turn, these type of defaming statements (like promoting child killing and abortion) made against DirecTV are by definition slanderous: a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report.

            On the subject of this commercial not being satirical, I completely disagree. This commercial is dripping in satire. It’s satirizing obnoxious high-energy commercials with it’s over the top presentation. In that, it’s also satirizing stereotypical American rock music which is why they have the intentionally cheesy 1980s rock jingle performed by Jon Bon Jovi which on a side note (from a purely musical standpoint) is one of the catchiest jingles of the last few decades. Lastly, they’re satirizing America’s obsession with TV shows and movies where people want make everything in their lives disappear for a moment so they can become immersed in the content.

            On your second response:

            Ads do not have to be “serious enterprises”. As I’ve stated previously, ads have become progressively more comedic and politically incorrect over time. People want to be entertained during commercials, and as a result many television ads have evolved into ridiculous, over the top comedic bits to keep peoples’ attention on the TV screen and away from their mobile devices and computer screens. You’re right in saying that a commercial is a “cultural statement”. However, you’re wrong by insinuating that a cultural statement has to be politically correct and therefore devoid of humor.

            Regarding comedy, today’s comedic culture is largely defined by shows like Family Guy, and by comedians like Louis CK. Americans love satire, sarcasm, and mean-spirited humor. Americans even love to poke fun at our own national stereotypes. Our comedic culture manifests itself everywhere, including ads. DirecTV is no different than All State, Old Spice, AT&T, or any other company who airs comedic ads. They don’t want you to take their content to heart, they just want to entertain you much like a TV show would. Really, that’s nothing more than a natural evolution of advertising in the wake of a technological revolution where people’s attention spans are shrinking by the day. We’re redefining the rules for advertising. Ads should not be a direct reflection of company’s corporate culture, core values, or corporate responsibilities, much like a comedian’s jokes should not directly reflect their actual personal views.

            With that said, if you laugh at a dead baby joke told by a comedian (which you admittedly have), and are offended by the very same joke told in an ad then you are basically by definition a hypocrite: a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements. So, I guess you can throw out your accusations that I don’t understand what satire, slander or hypocrisy mean.

            Lastly, you’re attacking my ethical judgment by blindly accusing me of “endorsing the unethical standard of following the mob”. Where is there any evidence of that? I formed my opinion completely by myself. I don’t need to look to anyone else to form my own opinions. Maybe you should avoid blindly judging people without any information about them whatsoever. Additionally, you may say “the unethical standard of following the mob” and I may say “the majority opinion” which is the basis for determining right and wrong in a democratically rooted society. Ethically speaking it is also the basis for determining the greater good. If this commercial is so offensive then why is your opinion so wildly unpopular? Maybe because you’re reaching into thin air and twisting the facts to produce a manufactured idea that isn’t true based on the actual evidence. Even you said it yourself, “The fact that I might be in a minority doesn’t prove a thing about the validity of my position.” You’re right, it doesn’t prove ANYTHING about the validity of your position because it’s not valid.

            • Along with satire, and the others, do add “hypothetical” to the list of concepts you don’t understand:
              “Clearly, inserting slaves into “The Power to Turn Back Time” would be offensive, but DirecTV did not do that, so there’s no real argument there, just hyperbole.:

              Why “clearly”? Why wouldn’t that euqally be “satire”? The reason you say clearly is because you find the idea of slavery—treating human beings as property–intrinsically offensive and an idea that society should not trivialize or laugh at, since laughing at evil makes it easier to accept it. Thus it follows that you must not think that the concept of eliminating a child who parents now find too much trouble by “going back in time” and changing the decision to “have” him–in essence, retroactively eliminating him from existence–is similarly offensive, and neither does DirctV. That’s how societal and cultural norms get made and maintained. That’s exactly what’s sinister about the post. I says the eliminating a child retroactively—which is what abortion does, in fact—is no big deal…in fact, it’s GOOD. And that’s how the society increasingly looks at it…resulting in this:

              • It’s really not “similarly offensive.” For an ethicist, it’s alarming that you’re not grasping the weight of slavery versus fantasy. You think that the fictitious idea of going back in time in a commercial to prevent a pregnancy is “similarly offensive” as slavery, an international crime against humanity which actually happened over centuries affecting millions of real people? I’d say not even close on that one, Jack. Abortion is still legal, not that this is even about that…

              • Honestly, your rebuttals are losing steam fast. You’re resorting to false accusations that I don’t understand terms I’m using when I definitely do, and not only that, I’ve clearly debunked that smokescreen in my past posts by accompanying my opinions using those terms with dictionary definitions of those words. That tactic you’re using may work on less educated people on here, but that’s not going to work on me, and it’s a clear indicator that you have little else to bring to the table in terms of logical arguments rooted in reality to refute my points. All you’re giving me is vacuous dribble that is completely off subject with what the commercial was really about. You’re now working completely on fantasy and false interpretation at this point while my arguments remain rooted in what’s actually presented in the ad.

                • I don’t expect to convince you, since you are perpetually self-contradictory and confused. I particularly liked “I’m not going to deal with your hypothetical, because its hypothetical.”

                  I must conclude, sadly, that you are an idiot. A very articulate idiot, granted, but still. It’s not worth my time debating with you.

                  • Wow, that’s the best you can do? Sounds to me like you’ve got nothing, and you can’t prove me wrong because I’m not wrong. All you can do is resort to name calling, a classic tactic of people who have no real point. Very mature of you. I think I can just go out by saying Checkmate at this point.

                    • Yeah, right. You have just repeated the same invalid arguments and refused to deal with mine, and then resorted to the obvious straw man with your misinterpretation Jeff’s comment. Your game is characterizing arguments rather than dealing with them. I know it well.

                      I have an idiot rule here, because my time is precious, and stupid positions help nobody. If you’re not a troll, then you’ll follow this moderator’s directive: Your points have been neither ethical nor persuasive, and you are now devolving, repeating the same things and saying “Nya nya nya.” It’s over. Either choose another issue to argue about…there are plenty to choose from, and, hopefully, do it better, or shut up.

                      If another comment from you on this topic appears—I have devoted more to your rationalizing than it deserved–it will be spammed, and you will be banned. I may also delete your part of the thread, turning back time and making you disappear. I usually don’t do that, but it depends how obnoxious the post defying me is.

                      Your choice, SA.

                    • Yeah, right. You have just repeated the same invalid arguments and refused to deal with mine, and then resorted to the obvious straw man with your misinterpretation Jeff’s comment. Your game is characterizing arguments rather than dealing with them. I know it well.

                      I have an idiot rule here, because my time is precious, and stupid positions help nobody. If you’re not a troll, then you’ll follow this moderator’s directive: Your points have been neither ethical nor persuasive, and you are now devolving, repeating the same things and saying “Nya nya nya.” It’s over. Either choose another issue to argue about…there are plenty to choose from, and, hopefully, do it better, or shut up.

                      If another comment from you on this topic appears—I have devoted more to your rationalizing than it deserved–it will be spammed, and you will be banned. I may also delete your part of the thread, turning back time and making you disappear. I usually don’t do that, but it depends how obnoxious the post defying me is.

                      Your choice, SA.

  13. Oh, for crying out loud in a rainstorm! I’m so sick of people on their high-horses, taking everything so literally, with no sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoy DirecTV’s commercials & Bon Jovi, while he may be older, is very pleasant to look at & listen to. You are so caught up in the minutiae, you miss the point & ruin the fun for the rest of us. If you go through life like that, I’m sorry for you. You must have no joy. Do you & your families really learn about life from TV commercials? If you don’t like it, turn it off, turn down the sound or change channels. It’s really easy. But don’t lecture to the masses for your sensitivities. Please!

    • Good example of the the thought-free reaction to this issue. Because we all know jokes, or intended jokes, neither perpetuate or embed anti-social and unethical attitudes. Thanks.

  14. So I guess your into total censor ship.
    Why not just ban Tv. The internet. And books.
    The Kids still alive. Its just a commercial.
    This political correctness has gone on too long.
    If people would just say what they feel, maybe it would be as good of world as it was when I was growing up. Didnt have shcool shooting mass citzen shooting, and kids were kids. And Matt Dillion killed people. And no one I grew up with killed anyone.
    So there. Sensor This.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.