The Evolution of Commercials

Since being home on maternity leave I have had my first real taste of daytime television in a long time.  The last time I spent any significant time of my week at home was probably the summer after my freshman year of college when I was nursing both a broken heart and a bad case of mono. Me and the TV had a really good time together in the summer of 1993.

I have been really surprised these last few weeks about what I am seeing on TV– between the bad reality and daytime talk shows. Commercials are definitely evolving… in a good way!

In my most recent post I mention the Luvs commercial where the mom breast feeds in public. Shocking! Here that is once again:

I am also seeing an influx of commercials traditionally marketed to the traditional housewife being marketed instead towards househusbands and other commercials featuring dads doing stuff normally delegated to the mommy. Such as…

Tide: Dad’s do laundry!

Huggies: Dad’s test diapers!

Samsung: Dads use mobile devices to figure out complicated stuff like baby swaddling!

Those role-reversals are great and its high time we see Dads portrayed as family caretakers and not juts financial providers. But the king of all surprises was this Cheerios commercial. Watch it first, then let’s discuss:

Notice anything different other than it being completely adorable? Did you? Be honest! Definitely not your typical ready for prime-time family being featured here and I LOVE IT. But of course, since some people just can’t handle that life is sometimes different than a Brady Bunch episode so General Mills had to shut down the comments section of this video on youtube due to some racist jerks.

Meredith Tutterow, a marketing director for Cheerios at maker General Mills, told the New York Times the company stands by the commercial and that the spot will “absolutely not” be pulled.

“There are many kinds of families,” Tutterow said, “and Cheerios just wants to celebrate them all.” She said the comments will be enabled again at some point, though didn’t know when.

Cheers to Cheerios!! I think I might just head on over to the Cheerios Facebook page and give them some support.

The big question I have, who will be the first major brand to feature a same-sex couple in a commercial? If there has been one, I haven’t seen it yet. But I will vow to buy whatever product that is!*

*You know, as long as it isn’t like Porsche, Cartier or some other fancy product that I can’t afford.

Hot Topic.

Bullying is a hot topic these days. It’s all over the news and in the papers. Stories all over the place about children who hurt themselves or others in response to bullying.

I know a little something about this, since as a young girl I was bullied for being chubby by a couple of brothers who lived a few doors down. We rode the same bus together, swam on the same swim team and every year of elementary school I was in the same class as at least one of them. It really was torture, stepping on the bus everyday knowing what I faced ahead. I wasn’t equipped to handle it. I referenced one of the episodes of teasing here on the blog back in 2006 telling the story of failed valentines’ days.

And then I saw my bully on Oprah.

Over 10 years ago, J.S., the older brother, decided to take a bunch of tanning pills to make himself look black. He went down south to live out the experiment of living his life as a black man. He lasted merely a week, apparently crippled by the discrimination he faced as a man of color. I find this somewhat ironic.

I had heard about the segment years ago, but never saw it before last night. Oprah  showed the clip again on a recent episode recapping previous stories she had done on the issue of race. It really was shocking to me. And I did something I never thought I would do. I found him on Facebook and wrote him a note. 

I don’t want to post the entire note here, but I asked if he remembered me and I recounted to him the pain he caused me in the constant bullying over the years and the effect it had on my life–both negative and positive. I didn’t get dramatic or go into lots of detail, I presented it concisely and with a somewhat removed tone. No blubbering. No accusations. This is how I wrapped it up:

I was really surprised about what I learned of your racial experiment on Oprah. I don’t know why I felt the need to sit down and write to you after so many years, maybe it is crazy since it’s not like I sit around thinking about this any more. Don’t get me wrong, I am not reaching out to you to berate you or accuse you of anything. I am not looking for redemption, an apology or even a response. I bet you don’t even remember any of this– I was probably too sensitive, and maybe you were just “boys being boys”. But for some reason I just wanted you to know about it.

I really didn’t know what to expect in return, if anything. Would he lash out at me for over-reacting? Would he ignore it? I decided before I sent it that the response didn’t matter. I said what I wanted to say. I didn’t write him with any expectations. But, to my surprise, within an hour of sending it he wrote me back. This is what he said:

Hello Terra,
I remember you and your brother and sister well. The house you lived in is still the Walker House to my mind. I do remember teasing you and am glad that you wrote me cause I feel very guilty about it. I was often callous and cruel with my words. Probably still am sometimes. I’m a writer now and sometimes think to myself that is where I learned about the positive and negative power words can have. But feel very bad about the people who paid the price so I could learn that. I apologize for hurting you and wish you all the best.

What do you think? I am still processing this since it all happened last night. The response is nice to see, I am genuinely glad he replied and actually apologized. But what happened, happened and those scars may never fully heal.

I think I got more out finding the courage to write him than getting a response. I feel good about that.

New Friend!

It goes without saying that making friends as an adult, especially in suburban America, is not as easy as one would think. At least that’s the case for me. Since moving here to Long Island, I have made one new good friend, and I consider that quite the accomplishment, especially since we weren’t introduced by other people or some other easy path to aquaintancy (I made that word up). I met Michelle on the commuter train we both take to Manhattan every day around the same time. It was a slow courtship, I didn’t want to scare her off. But now, I think we are on solid friend territory. We do things together like take coooking classes and watch award shows, which surely constitutes a friendship.

For some months Michelle and I have noticed another woman that we think we would like to add to our train friendship. Often we sit near her, and she is always dressed in something fabulous, and can really carry some good accessories. I particularly covet a beautiful ring she has of polished pink quartz set in a chunky silver band. I first noticed her because of that ring and the distinct feeling I wanted to rip it off her finger for myself. You could say it was love at first sight.

There are two rows of chairs in every train car that face each other, perfect for conversation, and often Michelle and I find ourselves sitting across from the fabulous woman. And this past week it happened: we talked to her. Her name is Paulina, she is roughly our age (mid-late 30s), originally from Ecuador, and living on Long Island since she was a teenager. Full of energy and fun to talk to– I think I am on the road to having a second friend here. Sweet! Getting from casual train-appropriate small talk to that first “friend date” is so tenuous, though. I don’t want to just blurt out, heyyouwannahavebrunchwithmethisweekend? In some kind of desperation. She is cool, well traveled, and sophisticated. I gotta time it just right.

My Love/Hate Relationship with New York City.

On the topic of New York City.

It has been 2.5 years since I moved to New York to be with Damir. I can hardly believe it! It all is passing so quickly… I also can’t believe I am now 35, didn’t I JUST turn 30? But that’s a topic for another day.

I can’t decide if I like New York. I think this is odd because most people I know either LOVE LOVE LOVE it or HATE HATE HATE it. I am somewhere in the middle.

Some mornings, crossing through Times Square on my way to the office, I feel a jolt of energy with all the lights, activity and energy. The Square isn’t usually yet crowded with tourists, just busy New Yorkers going from here to there. I usually have my ipod blaring something to get my blood flowing, and I just feel good.

The evenings, crossing Times Square to go home, are a little different. The sidewalks are packed with slow-walkers, and now it is dark, and I am usually in a rush to catch my train. My thought is: I just want to get out of here.

I sometimes stay in the city after work and on weekends to actually enjoy the city, but not nearly as much as I should. I have always been a bit of a homebody in that way. Our little hamlet here in Long Island is growing on me, and already I am looking forward to a summer spent on the very nice beaches we have out here. I will take the beach over the crowded streets on any day. Though usually after I spend extra time just enjoying the city, I usually think, that was nice.

Damir and I sometimes talk about moving into the city. 2 Years ago, just after arriving in Long Island, I would have jumped at the chance. And today, I probably would too, though I would miss my favorite Sushi place around the corner, and my dry cleaner, nail technician, coffee server, and pharmacist who all know me by name.

What I really hate about New York is this attitude that many New Yorkers have that THIS IS THE BEST AND ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD WORTH LIVING AND IF YOU DON’T AGREE WITH ME GO FUCK YOURSELF.

I want to respond, well, yes, it’s got a lot going for it, but you need to get out every once in a while. See some other places. Live in some other places. You might be surprised. That snobbery just turns me off, as does just about anyone who thinks they are holding the best in their hand and nothing else could ever compare. EVER.

Oh, and the cost of stuff. I hate that too.

I never wanted to live in New York. I always said that. And its still funny to me that it’s where I have ended up for now. I don’t see us staying here indefinitely, but for the forseeable future, this is where we are and I have to make the best of it. But I know that years down the road, from the porch of my beautiful and cozy home with a view of the water, I will be glad for the experience.

May Peace and Tranquility Return Once More

Every year on this anniversary, I come back to these words written by Anne Frank and quoted by a rabbi at the non-denominational service I attended on September 12th, 2001 at an Anglican chapel not far from my apartment in Amsterdam:

“It’s Difficult at times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impratical. Yet I cling to the them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.  It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for better, that this cruelty will too come to an end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

Coming back to these thoughts yet again seem even more relevant this year as I reflect on all that has transpired in these 7 years and feeling as though we are all standing on a great precipice. I pray to God we make the right choice this time.

You know…Something

I heard about this on NPR and had to check it out for myself.

The Something Store.

You know… when you just want something.

You shell out $10 and they send you a surprise. It could be an Ipod, or a nose clipper. It could be a pocket knife or a digital camera. The point is: you don’t know until you open the box. Its like a suprise party for one.

I am thinking about getting something for Damir…just to enjoy the suspense of what it could be! I will keep you posted.

THIS is Hilarious

This guy, Guy Ben-Ner, shot an “installation” (I think that’s fancy talk for “short artsy film”) called Stealing Beauty featuring himself and his family… take a look at the description:

“Stealing Beauty” was shot without permission at numerous IKEA stores around New York, Berlin and Tel Aviv. In the movie the Ben-Ners quite naturally inhabit idealized showroom interiors with price tags dangling from furniture, and shoppers occasionally interrupting the family’s daily routines. Because of the hit-and-run filming, the traditional cinematic continuity is abandoned and the changing sets are stand-ins for their home. The narrative, however, remains linear as the father offers life lessons on the subjects of economic exchange, meaning of private property, ethics, and family love eventually leading to the children’s rebellious manifesto.

I am sure I am supposed to take this all seriously and consider the impact of themes concerning “ownership” and “continuity” and other highbrow theories. But I just can’t (though I haven’t see the installation). I mean, take a look at the promo photos:

The one in the robe kills me… imagine picking out your Ektorp sofa at Ikea and seeing this guy, Guy, and his family, shooting a scene in one of the fake bedrooms. Excellent.

Learn more here:

Under (Insu)red

Today is October 1st, which thankfully means that I once again walk amongst the insured people of America. It has been a scary thing to be without health insurance these last three months. Even this weekend I had terrible dreams where in the last moments of my un-insured state of being something terrible happened to me and I kept screaming No No No! I get insurance TOMORROW! Thankfully, however, it was just a dream.

Although, I won’t be getting dental insurance which is a bit of a concern, especially given all the dental trauma I had last year with one stupid tooth. That tooth is still a little wonky and I think any day will erupt again like a sleeping volcano.

Along the same subject, I was entertained recently by this article in New York Magazine:

Censo(red) by Tim Murphy

Wendy Dembo was annoyed with the (Product) RED campaign, the Bono-backed effort to fight AIDS in Africa by selling RED-logoed products, from Gap T-shirts to Pods. “I’m glad the Gap is helping Africa, but I want to help people in the U.S., too,” says Dembo, 40. So the West Village marketing consultant made her own T-shirt: UNINSU(RED). The shirt went on sale two weeks ago at Reed Space, a trendy Orchard Street shop. “I thought this was a way to get the hipster kids to think about the importance of health insurance,” she says. Fourteen $28 shirts were sold before the RED people sent a cease-and-desist letter, according to shop staffers. (A RED spokesperson declined to comment.) The proceeds aren’t going to health-care advocacy, but Dembo, who pays a $960 monthly premium for her own insurance,says she’s giving away one in three shirts to uninsured friends. Tarra Cunningham, 40, recently wore one while running errands downtown. “I thought it would protect me from crazy cabdrivers,” she says. A tomato-seller at the Union Square Greenmarket gave her a discount, and medical workers at Beth Israel averted their eyes. When she approached her own East Village block, she recalls, “I met with knowing glances and people going ‘Yeah!’ It was fantastic—the most eventful walk home
I’ve ever had.”


Where can I get one of those T-shirts?