I recently saw that McCain advert, Here’s To Love. It’s another of these adverts which basically promotes an idealised politically correct world – they pop up from time to time.
At first glance, these advertisements could be a standalone thought-piece. A statement; making us question something about ourselves, or reaffirming an idea about the way the world could/should be. At the end you find out that this experience was brought to you by… [large corporation/company X]… but you don’t necessarily care because you are touched and say ‘Aw that nice.’ That the plan anyway. And by all accounts, it works.
Of course, regardless of whether McCain (or Dove or Virgin Media etc.) do actually want the world to be a more equal place, they really just wanna sell their chips innit. And that’s smart marketing. It seems that when the content is sufficiently emotive or profound, we are happy to suspend belief and overlook the fact that the hand that gives also wants something in return.
But something about the prevalence of these ads worries me. I am alarmed by our readiness to consume political correctness.
That’s not the same as saying I don’t like political correctness. I think being PC is fine if there’s a good reason for it and as long as we’re honest about why we’re doing what we’re doing. But the type of political correctness presented in advertising is sentimental. It makes us feel warm inside. It makes us feel that the world is a lovely place and we want to be part of it and everyone is nice.
Our enjoyment of these ads represents the consumption of an ideology to make ourselves feel nice about ourselves. Our motivation is emotional and egocentric (in the nicest possible way). And this risks mindlessness. Strangely, mindlessness could just as easily result in everyone blindly following the herd, as it could result in people neglecting equalities issues and not taking them seriously enough. The problem is that no one is thinking for themselves.
The content of these PC ads is pap, mushed up for easy digestion. If we continue to enjoy them we will never expand our minds – never develop our palettes. We need to abstain from the warm fuzzy feelings of sentimentality. They are insidious. Then if we want to be politically correct, we should do so consciously. We should do so because we made an honest and informed decision about the issues.