Perhaps you have seen the commercial. The idea is to sell Corona Beer and we close in on a magnificent, large home on a lake with four friends in their early 30s (all trim and fit) sitting out-of-doors at a table laughing and admiring themselves when suddenly a gust of wind blows out their candle. One of the more enterprising young men takes out his iPhone, turns on the flashlight and sets it under a bottle of “Carona Premier” which is thereby lit up and provides them with the light they need to continue to admire themselves and applaud genius.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Look again, if you will: the house behind them, huge and modern, has EVERY SINGLE LIGHT TURNED ON! So what? you might ask. And that’s the problem. Very few — if any other than nattering nabobs of negativism like yours truly — will see anything whatever wrong with this commercial. But all I can see is the wanton waste reflected in the fact that all the lights in that huge house are turned on. It says to me: this is a culture that is not only self-absorbed, and thirsty, but also terribly wasteful and unconcerned. We are a use and toss-away culture that thinks only about today and what might give us pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong. I like beer. I particularly like Corona beer. It’s yummy. I also suspect the director was going for mood and visual effect. All of this is irrelevant. The point is that those who decided to present us with this commercial message gave away the game: we simply don’t give a damn. It’s that simple.
Now I would venture to bet that anyone to whom I preach (and I realize that it is not a choir but perhaps only small chorus) would agree with the underlying message. I am aware of this. But we need to save the planet and it will take each of us doing whatever we can to help — though we would prefer to diss the Congress and point the finger at them rather than at ourselves. This is another feature of our culture: we don’t really like to accept criticism or responsibility. It’s easier and more comforting to place the blame elsewhere. But the planet needs our undivided attention: it is in serious jeopardy. And showing four mindless models sitting in front of a house with eighty-five rooms all lit up sends the wrong message — especially since the folks who sit in front of that house are proving to all of us that it’s all about having a beer and having fun. No worries. We’re having a great time — and look how clever Fred is with his iPad lighting up the table! Brilliant!
I fully realize that I see things like this and they bother me. I write about those things that bother me and that are worth thinking about. But this makes many people uncomfortable. I titled my blog the “Daily Gadfly” and initially determined to write a post each day about the goings-on around me. It became too stressful, for many reasons. So I slowed down and post only a couple of times a week — and I try to stay away from political machinations as they are way too depressing. But the job of the gadfly is to disturb and irritate in order to engender thought. It was a label Socrates wore proudly. But it puts people off and they turn away to look for happier news. No kitties or flowers here, folks. Sorry.
Indeed I do tend to see the glass half empty while others are able to see it half full. This makes me a pessimist I suppose, though I regard myself as a realist. In any event, the future of the planet and indeed the human race is a matter of genuine concern — for optimists and pessimists alike. But however we see the glass, we need to be awake and aware and to think about the things that each of us can do in our small way to address a very large problem.
And that starts with turning out the damn lights!
Perfect post, Hugh. Just a few days ago, I was jolted by my own granddaughter who reminded me, as I opened yet another 12 ounce bottle of spring water, just how much harm all the plastic is doing to the environment. I sat back and took stock … I write often about how people are ignoring the effects of climate change, how we must all do our part, and yet here am I, buying a 24-pack of bottled water every week, then tossing the bottles in the trash at the end of the day. Using plastic, single-use grocery bags, trash bags, etc. Hypocrisy? Oh yeah.
As I wrote in response to a comment on one of my posts just this morning, it seems that we are living in the spirit of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Tomorrow isn’t all that far off, unless we change our ways. Thanks for the reminder, and this week I will be purchasing re-usable grocery bags, and am considering the purchase of a distiller (water, my friend, not Famous Grouse) to eliminate the plastic bottles. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
I also notice that most everything we buy comes in plastic containers, from laundry detergent to shampoo to sour cream. Surely by now the corporate world could have come up with a viable replacement in which to package their products?
It’s true of all of us, I fear!
Jill Dennison: you can recycle those plastic bottles. At least, here in NY you can. A nickel for every single one. I pick them up when I am out walking.
I didn’t know that! Thanks for the info! I will check it out. We used to have recycling bins at the end of our street, but a few years back they took them away.
Hugh – right you are. I have been feeling especially curmudgeonly lately, and you have tapped into my mood quite well 😉 – Susan
I feel that way much of the time!
Our moods are matched. I walk with 2 treasured friends three times a week. Today was an especially rough hand’s-talking, windmill-air slicing arms cutting through the air…just to point out we have morons and idiots running the country. A repeated point that is not only tiresome but…depressing. Frustrating. Tired. No end in my sight line. 2020 is a nonentity. In the meantime, between now and….tomorrow(s), continue to howl at the moon, Hugh. I hear you. I think I love you for what you think are your singular a cappella sounds in the wind…but are not.
Many thanks. I do get the feeling I am spitting into the wind most of the time!
Nice post, Hugh, one that I am reading while the rain goes straight down in my corner of the world. My trips back home are always sobering in many ways – seeing new huge autos, the giant homes where people spend very little time because they are working to pay those extreme bills that come with those homes..I see those extremes through foreign eyes and try to stay mute. I also note how people think nothing of driving an hour or more just to have lunch – it all seems so wasteful.
It’s nice to see those beer commercials, which I would never know about unless people like you share them… You did a great job in describing the scene, and how astute of you to see those details – where most would be focused on being entertained.
A cold cervesa sounds great right now, and I’m in the cloud forest to visit friends – most likely we’ll enjoy a cervesa – and most likely the lights will be so dim – because of budgets – that the always-burning end-of-day candle will be quite dramatic. Her focus is her faith in God – esp as the anniversary of her son approaches.
Ah, it’s good to have one foot set firmly in a not-so-modern world, and the other – via cyber – in touch with what’s happening elsewhere I’ve not checked into the hostal yet, but it will be good to catch up over the next few days!
I always envy you when I read your words. The people you live with have the answers and so many of the folks in this part of the world don’t even know what the questions are!
perdon – the anniversary of the death of her son… my instincts nudged me to come see her….
“”The people you live with have the answers and so many of the folks in this part of the world don’t even know what the questions are!”
Very good point!
I enjoyed a coffee break with a younger friend named Peter. He is probably 40 years old, grew up in a very basic home in the country, and he has worked hard to reach where he is – as an electrician/worker in bamboo construction/bird guide.. never for much money but enough to pay his bills. tonight he showed me a photo of him with his new ‘telescope’ which guides often use with clients to better see the birds. but he had a circle of elementary students with him, and he was mentoring them. I told him that the future of our planet is in their hands, and he was doing a great job in helping them value our natural world. i also reminded him of what he did during the earthquake – when he returned to an area where he grew up to volunteer w/aid. i later asked him where he stayed/slept, and he shrugged and said, ‘in the street…’ and i asked what he ate, and he again shrugged and said, ‘i wasn’t very hungry – and other people needed the food more.’
to spend time with beautiful and selfless people like that – one quickly sorts thru what is important and what is basura!
and yes, i realize how lucky i am to witness behaviors like his most everywhere i go.
thanks for listening, professor!
Truly beautiful people. They all ended up in your part of the world!
When I was a kid, my grandfather, who had to quit school in the 8th grade to start working & retired at age 55 a millionaire, really drilled it into me about turning off the lights when you were not using them. My son is ALWAYS leaving lights on & it drives me nuts.
BTW, I hate Corona, always have. Gimme a Molson Canadian anyday. & I’ll drink by the light of the moon & the stars. Or the sun. Which is a better time anyway.
Well said. My wife recalls the frugality of her mother which offered a long list of electricity saving ideas. While she did it to raise five kids on a limited salary, her ideas hold true today as we conserve. The greatest generation knew how to stretch a dollar due to the depression and WWII. Keith
We need to learn those same lessons!
My husband and I do not have cable tv and so, when we are out and bombarded by televisions everywhere, we definitely notice commercials. This is one I have seen. And not only does it promote wastefulness as you stated, but it proliferates a standard of living that most Americans do not have, at least not without going into severe debt. Unfortunately, these images and ideals are ones that seem to be the most valued in our society and not the reality that we need to make some serious changes to save our planet. Thanks for being a gadfly!
I honestly believe it will take a crisis of major proportions to get the attention of the people in this country who have the power to make the major changes necessary to save the planet. But the rest of us need to pay attention and do what can as well — even if only to show we care!