October 14, 2003

Nader's Golden Arch Enemy

Dynamic Virginia Postrel reports that she will be on CNN tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9:30 EDT to debate Commercial Alert's campaign against McDonalds' sponsorship of Sesame Street. Virginia links to the offending commercial here.

I agree with her that it seems pretty innocuous. The local PBS affiliate here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area regularly runs about 5 minutes of corporate-sponsor mini-ads each half hour. Naturally, the ones in the morning are aimed at kids (and their parents!) And I speak from experience on how effective they can be. When our children were younger, we succumbed to their pleas for us to buy Juicy Juice, which was advertised before and after the PBS show, Arthur. While we had given money to PBS before, it was nice to be able to support the show we liked by supporting its sponsor. But that's nothing nefarious, just effective advertising. Run your ads when your target market is likely to watch them. Does that mean that we or our kids are mindless drones, programmed to eat and drink whatever swill our corporate masters manipulate us into buying? Absolutely not. However, Ralph Nader and his friends might disagree.

You heard that right. Commercial Alert was founded by Ralph Nader in 1998 and claims as its mission the goals of "keep[ing] the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and [preventing] it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy." I suspect this is another area where the loony left can make common cause with the knuckle-dragging right, an area touched on in the opening chapters of Postrel's The Future and Its Enemies.

Thanks, Ralph, but I don't need you defining and controlling the "proper" sphere of commercialism for me. The proper sphere is whatever sphere the consumer defines it to be. As a parent, that means I need to help my children learn how to define it. First, teach them limits. Say no. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat again. After several repeats, teach them scepticism. Ask why. Repeat as necessary. Teach them to say no to their impulses and then to question them. As much as the kill-joy culture (and food) police would like to make us (and trial juries) believe that we are not responsible for our actions and are susceptible to corporate manipulation, we are in fact responsible. We can make choices. My choice? Buy McDonalds for lunch tomorrow. Just to stick a finger in Nader's eye.

And now, a word from our sponsor:

Sunny Day - Sweeping the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get,
How to get McDonald's to eat?

Posted by JohnL at October 14, 2003 12:17 AM
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