Forgive the lateness of the hour -- I had to drag myself from the A Christmas Story marathon to heed the call of duty.
Which reminds me: I like the holiday season, but I will be so glad when the holiday commercials cease. The psychosexual terror shows from Kay Jewelers are risible enough, but the one that is irrationally setting me off is the one from Target where parents tensely squabble over where or not "Santa" (i.e. Mom, who is completely responsible for the successful execution of the holidays, because WHO ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT?) blew the budget on a big-screen TV. Because just once, I'd love to see a commercial where Dad's the one going bonkers over pulling off the perfect holiday, not the mom who's expected to pull off a magazine-perfect spread, spoil the kids without breaking the budget and still manage to keep sweet enough to deserve that blood diamond bauble from a chain jeweler -- all without dropping anything else. Please show me a commercial where Dad's the one trying to decorate, bake and shop while a blissfully clueless wife clucks "Oh, honey, you worry too much. The holidays will come together if you stop stressing!"
To be fair to Target, only the one commercial sets me off, and that has less to do with their overall 2009 ad campaign than it does with the underlying assumption that a perfect Christmas rises and falls on the efforts of the little woman. Some of the ads are about facing the awkward personal issues that sometimes arise during the season. For example, there's a commercial where a woman, stunned by the necklace she got from a beau, infers that his financial investment corresponds to his emotional level of commitment and tries to let him down gently with, "I don't think we're there yet." The ad does point out that dating can be confusing -- especially when one or more parties links emotional milestones to consumerist signifiers. And yet ... somehow, the solution is probably not to buy cheap accessories at Target. The solution would be developing decent communication skills -- but that doesn't move product.
As the world pauses from routine tomorrow, raise your glass to the disappearance of this year's holiday ads. And then, take another belt from the glass: the Valentine's Day ads are right around the corner.