Friday, April 3, 2009

As if I needed another reason to hate ad execs

I hate watching TV in real time, and usually don't. I skip the commercials, block ads, etc. The condescension, the shouting, the pathetic attempts at humor...I haven't laughed out loud at a commercial since the early '90's. I can't say I have a high level of regard for ad execs in general. I know most of them are just doing a job, so it's not personal.

One, however, has reached a level of offensiveness that I must take to task.

I saw this story on GMA while I was getting ready for work and was spitting nails at the TV. The story was about a new ad for domestic violence which shows Keira Knightley being brutally beaten by her boyfriend. The story was about the controversy that's apparently surrounding it.

All of the women who commented on the story, including a former victim of domestic abuse, felt that it was an important ad that should be shown. The lone voice of opposition to the ad was by an ad exec - a male exec - named Jerry Della Femina who had the audacity to "question the motives." The motive is it's a PSA, and it's designed to raise awareness and offer help to women (and yes, even men) suffering from an abuser in their own home.

Della Femina, you're not a man. You think this is hard to watch? Try living it.

I have not suffered from such abuse, but my heart goes out to anyone who has. I was actually glad that my girls were in the room and saw the ad, and saw what a man can do to a woman. We've had a lot of conversations about Rihanna and Chris Brown, and I just keep stressing to the girls that a person like that will not change. This ad depicts the brutal truth about domestic violence and I encourage every parent to share it with their daughters and sons (above age 8, I'd say).

Yes, it is hard to watch. It's a horrible, but unfortunately realistic portrayal of what can happen.

For Della Femina to claim that it shouldn't be seen, that they should cut away to the guy's face instead of showing the beating is a way for him to deny that this happens. Unfortunately, it happens every day. It makes me want to weep for any of the women in his life since he clearly doesn't want to face what could happen to any of them.

Della Femina is a coward. Keira Knightley, thank you for your brave portrayal of something that is unfortunately too genuine for too many.


Kori said...

I obviously haven't seen the ad, but just based on what you wrote here, I complete;y agree. And hurrah for you!!

Laura said...

I haven't seen the ad and didn't realize that it wasn't the standard talk about how bad domestic violence is. I just hope that purveyors of distortion like Della Femina don't succeed in diluting the message. Reality commercials, now that's a switch.

FreedomFirst said...

Actually, I would have been upset at the thought of this ad being played on public TV. The fact that victims think it's a good thing goes a long ways toward changing my mind. I want to say that I can't be comfortable with my kids seeing it, but now that I think about it, I guess a lot of kids see this happen in real life every day. Sickening.

Natalie said...

You know, honestly? I didn't think it was that graphic. Maybe it's because I was watching it on a teeny tiny screen, but it definitely wasn't any worse than what you would see on any of those crime shows.

But holy cow, did you see the other commercials they used as examples?

I think it's important that these kinds of messages get to the women that really need them.

Jen said...

The message is huge, and anything that can help to get awareness out is so important.

One other comment I would add is that it's important for EVERYONE to see this, because:

a. Men need to see what this looks like. Maybe potential abusers might have second thoughts if they have their noses rubbed in it. And sons need to see this when they're impressionable.

b. Of course women (and their daughters do).

c. Despite the fact that women are probably at least 90% of abuse victims, men are, too, both at the hands of other men and at the hands of women. No one deserves abuse.

Great post.

Tara R. said...

In some instances, imagination is not more affective than reality. Domestic violence is brutal and should not be minimized because an ad exec can't stomach the truth.

MindyMom said...

I haven't seen the ad but I agree with you. Turning a blind eye to the truth is never helpful, especially ugly truths. Awareness is key to wiping out ignorance and if it takes an ad like you described here, so be it!

won said...

I usually abhor self promotion but given the timeliness of your piece and the magnitude of the problem, may I just say that my piece tomorrow that I alluded to relates to domestic violence?

It is real and heartfelt. Thank you for continuing the discussion April.

PunditMom said...

As someone who was a victim of domestic abuse in my first marriage, I can't believe Della Femina wanted a more gentle spot. Just show the attacker's face and not the real victim or how horrible the violence is? That just feeds into views many still have that domestic violence isn't really violence at all.

Would he feel differently if he'd been beaten or kicked or shoved down a flight of stairs? I would bet the answer is yes.

Shiona said...

Great post. So sad that he holds that view. That PSA IS important. I haven't even seen it...