Well, it was quite a Super Bowl. (Yes, I’m late to the party.) I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to watch because I needed to be studying, but I relented and headed home from the library in time for the game.
I’ll leave the actual football commentary to others more invested in the sport. I was rooting for Atlanta for reasons that had little to do with football, but despite my political differences with Tom Brady, I have to tip my hat to him for leading that comeback.
Now, enough about football. It’s the Super Bowl, after all, so it’s all about the commercials.
There was a clear leftward tilt to this year’s crop of commercials. From the pro-immigrant Budweiser ad, to the pro-diversity Coke ad, to the (sort of) pro-environment Kia ad, to the pro-gender pay equity Audi ad…you get the picture.
Then there was the ad that got censored. I know pretty much nothing about 84 Lumber, but I could not help but go to their website to see the end of their ad. If you missed it, the ad depicts a mother and young daughter making their way through Mexico. The ad makes it pretty obvious that they are not planning to walk through a border check point and present a green card to legally enter the U.S. They hitch rides, hop into box cars, and ford rivers. They camp out without tents, and rely on the kindness of strangers to remain hydrated in the desert. Along they way, the little girl collects random scraps of material that she finds. The ad ends with the mother and daughter camping in the desert and an invitation to visit the company’s website to see the rest of the ad.
The video on the website states that the material was deemed too controversial for TV. We pick up the story of the mother and daughter as they continue their northward trek, but it’s now interspersed with scenes of, presumably American, workers building something, something big. We find out, along with the mother and daughter that the project is a huge wall. They reach the barrier and break down in tears. The girl reaches into her backpack to reveal the tattered American flag she’s made with the scraps she’d been collecting along the way.
After a moment, the mother hears a sound and follows it around a bend in the wall to reveal a huge door. The two enter and the ad ends with a message about the will to succeed always being welcome.
Trump supporters immediately criticized the ad, which is interesting, because it is not inconsistent with Trump’s stated policy. There’s a wall with a door, just like he said there would be. The door in the ad could easily be intended to represent a legal path to entry into the US.
However, even if it could reasonably be interpreted to be pro-wall, the ad does undermine Trump’s narrative. It depicts individuals who plan to enter the country illegally, not as rapists, or murderers, or “bad hombres,” but as a mother and daughter looking for a better life. I don’t think the ad is clearly pro-wall or anti-wall. I think it goes with the other ads, affirming our shared humanity and the value in our diversity as a nation.
A lot of large companies spent a lot of money to promote that diversity on the largest stage in the nation, if not the world. They could have spent that money aligning themselves with the racism and extreme nationalism of the current administration. They did not. They chose to align themselves with the people in the streets opposing the administration. Trump should take notice because we all know the number one rule for understanding politics:
Follow the money.