Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dear advertisers, I had the best parents ever! (sort of)

Photo by Tarek Chemaly, taken in Portland Oregon, 2004
So let us see, advertising is the land of make-believe. Yes, yes, I know, I am not revealing something a state secret.  I don't think people react the same way in real life as they do in advertising (or reality TV), not even in ads labelled "slice of life" (graduation, family dinners, etc...). If I say this, that is because I still have to see two friends behaving the way they are portrayed in ads, or families with relations as depicted in ads (though gender stereotyping does hold, mind you).
The parent-children is at best risible, at worst - not sure how to call it. It is always, always, pitch perfect. But hey, I had the best parents ever myself, so I know.
OK, not really.
So - make up your mind Tarek - were they or weren't they?
Well, they were just normal parents, like normal non-advertising parents are. Two parents with three kids back to back, then war in Lebanon broke out, all three kids at universities the same time. So, at times it worked, at other times it did not, at times there was money, at other times there was not (do note there were times where there was money but we could not reach it as banks were closed due to shelling). At times there were good times, at other times we had to run seven floors on the stairs to reach the shelter. At times there were close ties, at others less so (chalk that up to something called adolescence).
What I am trying to say is, my parents were not perfect - just a couple like many other couples. With their ups and down and characters and antagonisms and what-not. They certainly tried, that is for sure. But when I compare them to the couples I see in ads (or to be honest, the couples I put in ads myself!) it is those in the ads that fall short.
They are a two-dimensional caricature version of what living, breathing parents are - with their flaws and shortcomings, but also their ethics and values their transmit consciously or unconsciously to their kids. It is wrong to assume that any relation between two people remains as is, much less one as complex as parent-offspring, which oscillates and goes all over the place especially as the word "parenting" changes morphs as parents grow older (and falls on the children, paradoxically).
Yet - I suppose the words "blood is thicker than water" (or the Arabic equivalent of "el damm ma bye2lob may" - blood does not become water) does come from somewhere.
Perhaps somewhere, it would be nice to see normal people (normal parents as well!) in ads. At some point these pitch perfect (and yes, gender stereotypical!) ones, somehow fail to do the job.
For all their faults, I had the best parents ever (no, not sort of).