STD's, Teen Pregnancy, etc... Not Our Fault

July 28, 2009
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In Tuscon, Arizona, living rooms were filled with excited fans of the home-state Cardinals playing in the Super Bowl on February 1st. Mom, Dad, brother and sister, everyone was there; even Gramps made it out of bed to watch the big game. Right after Larry Fitzgerald’s go-ahead 60-yard touchdown reception, Cardinals fans were screaming in delight, seeing the light at the end of an awfully long tunnel (a light that was snuffed by Santonio Holmes’ even more spectacular snag in the corner of the end zone a few minutes later). Then, something quite peculiar happened, and Gizmodo’s John Herman describes it best: “the video feed abruptly switched to a scene from stablemate channel Club Jenna, treating viewers to the sight of seemingly omnipresent porn guy Evan Stone swinging his junk around like a maniac.” Immediately afterwards, the aforementioned gentleman received favors from his female cohort, while Mom and Dad clamored for the remote and Little Bro and Big Sis watched in stunned amazement.

Talk about awkward.

Unfortunately for Gramps, the clip quickly reverted to the Super Bowl, leaving Comcast and thousands of Tuscon viewers scratching their heads. Comcast quickly released statements saying that they were “mortified” and had “no idea” how this content appeared on the airwaves, and has since granted a ten-dollar credit to all Comcast customers affected. Turns out, someone hacked into the fiber optic line transmitting the signals from Comcast, substituting footage of the big game with something far more interesting than the Bruce Springsteen halftime show, which Comcast has branded an “isolated malicious event.” It seems Janet Jackson has been trumped.

But those not affected by the brief risqué interlude were also exposed to a Super Bowl Doritos commercial in which a woman’s clothing literally falls off, and several Go-Daddy commercials that included a shower scene with race-car driver Danica Patrick and the line “I’ll show you enhanced!” (One can guess which assets the lady then almost exposed). And if not for NBC’s refusal, we would have been treated to an ad displaying nearly-naked females fondling fruit and vegetables, courtesy of Michael Vick’s favorite non-profit organization, PETA. As advertisers turned up the heat, some commercials likely left Tuscon thinking that porn was just the logical next step.

It seems we are so obsessed with sex, the most family-oriented program of the year cannot avoid a nipple-exposing halftime show, an outrageous number of controversial commercials, and an X-rated clip. What is even more harebrained is the fact that we continue to teach abstinence-only education in school and blame teenage pregnancy, the spread of STD’s, and poverty due to accidental maternity on irresponsible children. Although our teen pregnancy rate has been steadily declining from the record-highs of the nineties, America still boasts the highest rate among western nations and has recently seen a 3% increase, breaking the 14-year streak. Are American children really that much more aroused than the rest of the world? Possibly, but sex is used here more than anywhere else to manipulate consumers and young people, leading to raunchy Super Bowl ads and frisky teenagers.

One thing that policy-makers on the boards of education seem to forget is that kids are nothing more than kids: stupid and easy to influence. Constant messages in ads and television are counteracting the abstinence-only regulations so strictly imposed by the Bush administration, and it seems advertising has a lot more effect. Safe-sex education being implemented is unlikely, but a liberal Congress might make steps towards something a bit more sensible. There’s only one thing for sure:

I’m watching the Super Bowl in Tuscon next year.





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Sunshineyday said...
Aug. 7, 2009 at 11:42 pm
I partially disagree. People are influenced by media but cannot blame their behavior on it, even "stupid kids". It's unfortunately, a 'cultural thing' here. I do agree that they should take it easy with the content in advertisements. I also agree that abstinence only is not a good strategy (ask Sarah Palin!) I like your writing style though!
 
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