Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr. reduced to pedaling trucks—Super Bowl Ad

By SJ Otto
I hate commercials. They annoy me. At times they try to pretend they are entertainment. Other times they pretend to be news updates. But their aim is always to try and get us to buy something. Larry King says he likes to connect people with things that work. He is simply trying to sell us clam oil pills to stop pain. If I could get rid of commercials I would.
This year, as with many years past, the Super Bowl ads are now looked forward to as if they were real entertainment. I see news people showing us the most interesting and anticipated ads for the Super Bowl. But now the ads have hit an all-time low as Dodge uses part of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech to sell us their trucks.

“Amid the commercial miasma swirling around Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast, one advertisement actually stood out as something of a cultural and social event. It was an ad for Dodge Ram trucks, featuring the uplifting words of none other than Martin Luther King Jr.
The ad provoked immediate comment on social media – none of it, as far as we can tell, positive. It was seen as a landmark in crassness. That was true not least because in the speech excerpted for the ad, a 1968 sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct,” King spends some considerable time excoriating the advertiser-driven quest for material acquisitions, including cars.
“We are so often taken by advertisers,” he declared. “They have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying…. You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford.” Those words weren’t in the script for the Ram truck company (which is owned by, yes, Fiat Chrysler). The ad just stuck to King’s exhortation to become great by serving others.”

Apparently the King family gave permission for Dodge to use this speech. So what were the King family members thinking when they allowed a speech by one of our most beloved social commentators of the 20th century? I can only guess— $$MONEY$$!
This ad takes a speech that was meant to inspire people to think about the meaning of our lives and our relationship towards others and gave it a new meaning—to buy our trucks. The seriousness of such a speech is lost on the crass commercialism and materialism that has soaked in to every fiber of our collective being. The message is simple—buy lots of stuff, whether you need it or not, and contribute to the economy. Such crass commercialism seems to be a form of cultural pollution. Ads are everywhere we go—TV radio, our computers. They are in every public place imaginable. The message is always to buy something. As a culture I would like to think that Americans have more to say about life than buy something and try to find happiness through the ownership of material things.

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