Uncomfortable Is A Good Thing

So it’s the day after the Super Bowl. By now, you’ve heard the outcome of the game((Congrats to the Patriots on a hard-fought win over my beloved Seahawks.)), laughed at the fact that Katy Perry was a walking ad for The Hunger Games, and been told how you should feel about the various commercials that played during the game. It’s extremely likely that you’ve been told that Nationwide Insurance put on a tasteless, depressing, insensitive advertisement that pissed off a lot of people.

Before I get into my opinion, I want to give those of you who didn’t have a chance to see the ad the opportunity to do so. If you’ve seen it and don’t want to see it again, my post continues below.

In looking at the reaction on Twitter immediately after this ad played, it’s a wonder someone didn’t try to go burn down Nationwide’s corporate offices. The vitriol spewed about this commercial — while not surprising — was overwhelming. See, anytime any form of media tries to take on the tragedy that is the death of a child, you’re walking a very, very thin line. When you’re an insurance company who is using childhood deaths to sell insurance, that line gets obliterated and no one gives a damn about what you have to say.

It’s a natural human reaction to flip out when you hear about something that’s jarring to your psyche.

And yet, had this spot come in any other form besides an advertisement, it would have been lauded as a wonderful piece of writing. People would have looked at it as a heartbreaking reminder that life is fragile, and that not all death happens to the old. Children are our future. To see or hear about one of them passing on is a disturbing and dark reality that no family would ever want to go through.

While the venue Nationwide chose could (and likely should) be debated, people screaming about how there shouldn’t be ads talking about dead children are missing the point. Just because the ad made you uncomfortable does not mean that it shouldn’t be on air. Hell, the NFL had an anti-domestic violence ad which was equally as impactful((And likely would have been more so had it come from anyone except the NFL.)) on an equally dark topic. Yet, there’s no backlash over that ad.

The argument could be made that the reason there was backlash over Nationwide’s ad but not the NFL’s is the sales factor. The NFL wasn’t trying to sell you anything in their spot, while Nationwide was. If that’s your sole point of contention, I get that. I’m willing to accept it and will agree with you on that point.

However, if your argument is that the death of children shouldn’t be talked about on television because it is too dark, too depressing, too taboo to bring to light on the single largest televised event in the world just because it makes you uncomfortable…then I’m legitimately concerned about your morality. No topic where harm is inflicted (intentionally or not) should be hidden from discussion on a large-scale. It’s how progress happens. It’s how change occurs. It’s how what Nationwide’s tagline to this commercial stated — Make Safe Happen — actually happens.

Front Page Image Credit — bizjournals.com