Friday, July 18, 2008

The War on ... Whatevs!

When I was a kid, McGruff the crime dog was all about the burglars.
Ok sure, maybe I like him because the trench coat is quite Columbo-esque, but still...just another something that charmed me in childhood. Anyway, as McGruff is a creation of the AdCouncil, he's now tackling the major issue relevant to the youth of this time. This means there is less of a focus on burglaries and drugs, and more on ::drumroll, please:: CYBERBULLYING!

(I lost the banner, but I swear, there is one floating around there somewhere on the W3Bz!)

Not to downplay the importance of addressing the issue, especially in light of the very young Megan Meirs' myspace suicide, but along with some noble intent there are some accompanying questionable choices.

  • +1 The ADCouncil campaign has the quite appropriate tagline of "If you wouldn't say it in person, why say it online?" Kudos for the attempt to smolder hurtful, passive-aggressive behavior extremely prevalent all up in here!

  • -1 I've only found two ads on youtube so far, and they only portray young women. Should I read into that as a plea for girls to stop being catty bitches online, IRL, elsewhere? WHat about all the other young folks, across gender labels, who are fucked up to one another online? Why is the campaign not targeting them? They should be represented, too...or else this might become "just another women's issue" subjected to the oppression hierarchy.

    For many, being a bully is a source of empowerment. (This is the mythology encased in the overall formula through the years, yeah?) Think Biff from Back to the Future, Nelson from The Simpsons, and all them other fools. It really made me question the different manners violence manifests itself across genders --- and I'm just not talking boys vs. girls. Manipulation and various types of abusive treatment still result in the disempowerment of young people, and these patterns play out in adult life. What condones this violence/harassment/bullying culture? To what extent do the roles of media and corporate responsibility play in shaping these aggressive behaviors? The root issue doesn't seem to be the way young women treat one another online, it is the acceptance of this reactionary aggression and normalizing these feelings of violence. What's unacceptable is the message that it's practically excusable to be cruel and mean and abusive to others, and impose your bullshit on other folks because "blah blah blah First Amendment. Freedom of speech." (I hate that defense, btw. I'm pretty sure there's something in the Constitution which protects me from your insane douchebaggery.)

    I agree that it does stem from some kind of neglect, a disservice in development we haven't allowed our children in the more recent years. We can say, "Well, it's the parents!" "It's the schools!" "it's the single-parent!" But since when are schools surrogate parents? Who has normalized the dual-hetero household? Since when do we live in a society where we don't have the luxury to spend time to develop our families as we see fit? Is that not the primary role of a parent/child relationship to protect your children until they can make adult choices? And who's to say that it happens at 16, 18, 21, etc in some estimated and arbitrary unison?

    Worst case scenario: our kids become fucked up human beings who wield power and control on the internet because of this "cause" (I haven't placed a finger on it, but I will eventually!)

    So, reactionary, how? Well, you tell me.

    Cyberbullying campaign through the Ad Council:
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