Proctor & Gamble Is Insulting Childen


A commercial currently being shown on TV appears to be the epitome of the problems we force our children to face every day. We, as the supposed adults, have a responsibility to show our children the most mature way to act and to treat all others we share this planet with. This commercial, however, debases every honorable lesson that we can ever teach these future leaders and parents.

The commercial is for Cheer detergent. It opens with a shot of small boys, not more than 5 or 6 years old, in purple football uniforms which read "The Purple People Eaters". It states the obvious connection between playing football, dirty uniforms, the short comings of whatever detergent the former coach used and the obvious superiority of Cheer. It ends by explaining how these purple uniforms were now nearly perfectly clean. The final scene shows a truly small boy in his purple uniform watching obviously older and much larger boys about to collide with him while the announcer intones in a senatorial voice that now these small boys "can show their true colors...YELLOW!" and then a shot of this child turning and running from boys who weigh at least twice what he might.

What a degrading message this silly commercial sends to our children. It basically is telling them that the act of self preservation is equal to cowardliness, that not having a desire to be hurt in the course of a game is to be ridiculed and belittled. The commercial indicates that those of our children who choose to protect their physical safety should be sneered at.

All of these messages, both overt and subliminal, are very destructive to the small hearts and minds that are striving to mature in a world that makes fun of those who do not act in the macho and perverted manner that a small minority of Americans seem to demand. This image of a man who will stand in the way of certain harm only for the sake of a game extends no mercy to those who will not behave in such a silly way.

Every day our children are bombarded with messages of conformity. This nation, one founded with a diverse and nonconforming population of English and French and Dutch and Irish and on and on now wants all of us to act and dress and think alike. We belittle those with different political or religious or spiritual philosophies. We treat those with these different beliefs as if there were something wrong or demeaning in them. We teach our children that it is wrong to be special and then demand that they become special through the acceptable customs we have devised of in sports or entertainment or politics.

Personally, I have notified both Proctor & Gamble, Cheer's parent company, as well as the Cheer company itself that I find this ad offensive. Why a detergent company needs to belittle children is beyond comprehension. It is a very poor effort at sales, at best, and I will be very careful in my future purchases to insure that any Proctor & Gamble product is not in the basket.

In closing, any business whose commercials use insults or stoop to calling children cowards for not conforming to some violent stereotype is obviously trying to sell their products to a very narrow and nasty segment of America. If you do not feel that your life and your children's lives fit this dogmatic view of the world then it's time to send that message to them. Simply refuse to share your purchasing power with them and let them know why. To advise Cheer regarding your feelings, their e-mail address is tide.im@pg.com. Their postal address can be found on their products but I prefer e-mail solely because of the speed of delivery.

If you do send a message to Cheer or Proctor & Gamble, I would appreciate a note to tell me so. It's past time that commercials like this stop trying to form our moral opinions for us.

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Copyright 8/11/97