There’s been a lot of noise made about a certain soda company’s radio advert, where a little girl denies having seen her mother’s soda yet we clearly hear her slurping away at the start of the ad.
Some concerned citizens have taken it upon themselves to accuse the company of encouraging our children to lie to their parents. Some radio stations have taken the moral high-ground and gone so far as to edit the offending part of the ad script out, so that we never hear the little girl’s untruth and in so doing, protect our children from learning how to condemn their souls to hell.
(I digress, but how do we know that the little girl really hasn’t seen her mother’s soda and is giggling gleefully at the fact that the responsible adult has misplaced it while the child enjoys her own? We already know the mother is rather feckless because, in all honesty, which African mother knocks on her child’s door before entering? Some of us got in trouble just for closing the door, never mind locking the damn thing. But that’s another story.)
People need to calm down.
At the risk of having religious rhetoric thrown at me, I think that there is taking something a bit too seriously and then there is bitching about a relatively innocent and kind-of-funny advert.
So the little girl denied having seen her mother’s soda. Come on. Who hasn’t told a little white lie now and again? There’s a story I was told about an Uncle of mine who was caught eating sugar as a child. Despite having a ring of evidence around his lips and having been caught with his hands in the sugar bowl, he denied having eaten anything and even went so far as to accuse my grandfather, who caught him in the act, of being the sugar thief.
Now, this story is cute and funny, when told by the right person, which clearly I am not. It doesn’t in any way indict my uncle as a bad child.
How many people have told a lie to avoid getting into trouble as children? And still grown up to be decent people, responsible citizens and parents?
Speaking of parents. How many have told the lie about Santa Claus? The tooth-fairy? Or rat, in a Ugandan context? (This disturbs me no end, by the way. Which child would happily go to sleep, knowing that a tooth-collecting rat was going to come and root around under their pillow while they slept? It's the stuff of nightmares, I tell you. I'd rather a fairy any day of the week.)
Think about the little lies people tell on the daily. If we’re going to indict a soda company for that advert, why don’t we go after companies selling corsets? Surely doing your best to cover up that belly-fat under your dress is not far removed from lying about its existence. Padded bras? They are no more than the promise of boobs that don’t exist, not unlike brokers selling air instead of real land. Viagra? The less said about that the better.
Before we start accusing ad agencies, TV stations, musicians and actors etc. of corrupting our children and planting their little feet firmly on the road to hell, how about some introspection? Some perspective perhaps? A little ownership of the responsibility we have towards these little people. And how the values they learn AT HOME can fight the negative influences they are bound to encounter in the outside world.