Life’s Greatest Seduction
Here in the United States there is a commercial for a luxury car model (Cadillac ELR) that has people moving to their respective corners once again. The nasty names have once again started flying..liberal, conservative, right winger, lefty, commie, socialist, anti-American, anti-hard work…and on and on and on.
I would first like to present the text of the advertisement and then comment:
(Man standing looking over his swimming pool)
Why do we work so hard? For what? For this? For stuff? Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the cafe, they take August off. Off. Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that?
(Strolls into his upscale home, past his studying children in the den, through the kitchen where he gives a low high five to his wife towards bedroom.)
Because we’re crazy, driven, hardworking believers. Those other countries think we’re nuts. Whatever. Were the Wright Brothers insane? Bill Gates? Les Paul? Ali? Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon? That’s right. We went up there, and you know what we got? Bored. So we left. Got a car up there, left the keys in it. Do you know why? Because we’re the only ones going back up there, that’s why.
(Goes into bedroom, changes from casual clothes into business suit, comes out saying…)
But I digress. It’s pretty simple. You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible.
(Strolls out to driveway, unplugs his electric car and gets in.)
As for all the stuff, that’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August. N’est-ce pas?
It’s pretty easy to see why there is some polarity here. What’s wrong with “stuff”? Nothing, in and of itself. What’s wrong with working hard? Nothing, in and of itself.
What’s “wrong” for me here, is wrapped up in the illusions of humans as set out in “Conversations With God”, and the illusion that is glaring at me here is the illusion of “Superiority”.
This commercial says that one way is better than another way, not in terms of what works for me vs. what works for you, but in a way that diminishes what works for you. It defines one way of being “American”, as the “right” way…the superior way. It insinuates that other ways of being and doing things, in other parts of the world, are inferior, lazy, not valuable.
From “What God Said” pg. 154-155
Life’s Greatest Seduction
I have learned and I have experienced that there is nothing more seductive in human life than the idea of superiority. …
It turns out that all of us are equal in the eyes of God—a statement that is astonishingly and breathtakingly true, but a statement that the world’s religions cannot accept, cannot embrace, cannot endorse, and dare not suggest to anyone. For all of the world’s religions, and all the world’s political parties for that matter, and certainly the world’s so-called upper classes, depend for their very existence on the notion that somehow, in some way, they are “better” than another religion, party, or class. Take away superiority and you take away that which many people and groups feel is special about themselves.
Superiority wouldn’t be so bad if we did not use it as justification for discriminating against others—to say nothing about warring with others. But the idea of superiority is so ultimately ugly that it cannot produce anything save ultimately ugly results. …”
According to Craig Bierley, Cadillac’s advertising director this ad was aimed at a strictly American audience and, according to an AdAge article “Rather than millionaires, the spot’s targeted at customers who make around $200,000 a year. They’re consumers with a ‘little bit of grit under their fingernails.’ Right up front, Mr. McDonough dismisses the idea the reason American work so hard is to buy “stuff.” What he’s really saying is that Americans work hard because that’s what they love to do.” It is very hard to justify that the ad isn’t about promoting superiority when the product isn’t mentioned once in the text the actor reads, and isn’t even seen in the commercial until the very last few seconds. Further, any ad executive who believes that, in this world of instant global communication, an ad like this is going to remain viewed by only an American audience is either lying or exceedingly naive.
For me, the message of the commercial isn’t about selling a product, it is about selling the lie, which will sell the product. It is asking you to define yourself though outside things, like the car, the house, the pool, the stuff, and view yourself superior to those who define themselves differently, or do not have those things.
And what happens when we begin to view ourselves as superior? We separate. We become us vs. them. “They” no longer hold the same value as “us” and it becomes easier to do harm to another because we no longer believe that in harming that other we harm ourselves as well. We move into a world of justification and rationalization that skews our views and removes us from seeing the total picture of our actions.
This commercial is, again to me, a sign that those who believe in “ours is just another way, not a better way” are being heard. This commercial tells me that the strong appearance of what I do not wish to create means that what I DO wish to create is there, if not fully seen. That the powers that be see the pushback and are pushing harder to overwhelm the pushers with shiny messages intended to divert.
Right now Superiority is producing some very ugly results, and this commercial does nothing but highlight that ugliness, even as it cloaks the ugliness cleverly in the seductions of the current, old, paradigm.
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)