Pavlovian Response

Unknown-1The choral group from Sandy Hook Elementary who performed at the Super Bowl caught my heart. I was in love when those sweet kids started swaying back and forth. That gentle choreography was a sharp contrast to the violence they faced not long ago. It was also more effective entertainment than the dark high booted half time show. A friend’s kid wanted to know why the girls didn’t have any clothes on. Good question.

A better question is why a 30 second Super Bowl ad is worth 4 Million Dollars. Don’t misunderstand. I like the ads. The farmer one made me cry. I laughed out loud at the space babies. I’m a sucker when those Budweiser horses show up. I did not understand the dancing fish. Not crazy about the voodoo football guys. I have a minor in marketing. It made me cynical enough to be very careful about what ads my kids watch. I also tend to personally deconstruct ads I’m watching. A lot of very intelligent people have spent hours studying the effect of advertising on consumer behavior. Apparently consumers have a pavlovian response to inane ads and promptly rush out and buy enough product to warrant the advertising dollars. Hence 4 million dollars for 30 seconds.

The best question however is if a 30 second ad is worth 4 Million Dollars because consumers respond, then why does the media industry expect us to believe that hours of violent movies or video games will have no effect on our behavior?

I recognize that not everyone who watches violent TV shows or movies is going to rush out and commit mass murder. Just like not everyone who watches a dad in a wedding dress is going to rush out and buy Doritos. Unknown But I wonder if the marketing guys are right. When I’m at the store do I now tend to gravitate to Doritos? The studies say so. After a violent movie I am not going to pick up a gun and head out the door to cause another tragedy. But do I tend to gravitate to a nasty attitude? Does my response to my children get harsher? Do I drive more recklessly? Do I wait patiently or do I snap? Do I argue from a rational perspective or does the debate deteriorate to name calling. Oh wait. That’s what politicians do. Wonder how much TV they watch.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry studies reveal that children watch approximately 28 hours of television a week, more time than they spend in school. The typical American child will view more than 200,000 acts of violence, including more than 16,000 murders before age 18. Oh wait. I was talking about the esteemed politicians. Not children. Pardon me.

I believe a society that is gorging on a diet of visual blood and hate and anger is in trouble. Which brings me back to those sweet Sandy Hook kids. Want to join me in softening our culture? Want to push back on some darkness?

Turn Off Your TV.

Take a walk. Hug your kids. Pray. Read. Dance. Cook. Call a friend. Go for a run. Play with Play-Doh. or Legos. or dress up clothes.

Turn Off Your TV.

Volunteer. Blow Bubbles. Pet your dog. Make cookies. Eat all the dough. Smile. Laugh.

Turn Off Your TV.

Pick up trash. Plant flowers. Read the Bible. Sing. Tell a joke. Eat gummy bears.

Turn Off Your TV.

There. I repeated the message. I’ve marketed appropriately. Now do your part.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8




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2 responses to “Pavlovian Response

  1. D. Elizabeth Hovde

    Column worthy, mindy. Bravo!

    Elizabeth Hovde Oregonian columnist

    Sent from my mobile device.

  2. Wow! Thanks for the compliment. Too fun on a Monday morning.

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