Football and advertising fans alike will convene in front of television sets around the world to take in the “big game” as well as the festival of consumerism emanating from Miami Feb. 7. Along with the glorious testosterone-fueled competition and the advertising, will viewers also be subject to right-wing propaganda?
According to the Associated Press, the Christian fundamentalist group Focus on the Family has created an anti-abortion ad featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to run during this year’s Superbowl.
The ad’s storyline unfolds: While she was pregnant with the Florida Gator-to-be, Tebow’s mother Pam fell into a coma due to a bad case of amoebic dysentery while she was working as a missionary in the Philippines. Pam was told by her doctor that the drugs she was given to save her life may have killed her baby. Instead of following her doctor’s instructions, Pam opted to spend her last two months of pregnancy in Manila, receiving “around-the-clock care from an American-trained physician.” “Timmy” was born healthy and the family lived happily ever after.
Focus on the Family presumably would use this story celebrating the fact that Pam Tebow was given the choice of what to do about her pregnancy as a reason to deny other women that very same choice.
The Colorado Springs Independent sites an unnamed source on where Focus on the Family came up with the dough:
Jim Daly, spoke at an evangelical conference a few months ago and unveiled the Super Bowl ad plan. Then he begged for donations from like-minded organizations. According to the source, Daly was given about $3 million, and Focus dipped into its general fund for the other $1 million.
This, of course, will come as a surprise to the 150 or so Focus employees who were fired a few months ago, supposedly because of a steep decline in handouts from dwindling legions of followers. In 2008, some 200 workers were fired from the Christian organization just weeks before Christmas.
Granted, as the Independent also points out, the ad hasn’t been approved by the NFL or CBS. But if this ad were about gay people who have (gasp!) families or eating (gasp!) vegetables, we’d already have our answer. These two ads were rejected outright for the 2009 Superbowl ad slate.
The first one, a series of vignettes supporting marriage equality by portraying normal gay couples was indeed touching, but deemed to be too advocacy-y by the NFL. Of course, that didn’t stop them from airing ads promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle and an anti-steroids campaign, along with countless other advocacy ads over the years.
The veggie lovers ad from PETA was banned by NBC for being too sexy though watching it, I have to say I’ve seen more offensive beer and/or underwear commercials than this one.
And I consider myself a pretty fair judge, as a person who doesn’t dig on meat but is a fan of cute undergarments and beer. But check it out for yourself.
Of course, 2009 wasn’t the first time lefties were excluded from spending their hard-earned cash on the most expensive ad time this side of the television universe. In 2004, the winner of a contest by MoveOn.org was rejected by CBS. Clearly this happened for political reasons, however. I don’t think you could call this offensive, or portray it as an advocacy piece, per se:
As I said, these less-than-shockingly-offensive ads were rejected outright. But Focus on the Family is playing the smart game played by the savvy folks at Catholic Vote last year.
In the run up to 2009′s Superbowl, the group composed an ad spot that used President Obama’s inspiring life story to wonder what would have happened if his mom had decided to abort him. After a significant uproar over the ad, NBC decided to ax it from its Superbowl line-up. Catholic Vote was crafty about it, though, because the uproar they generated, on both the left and right, meant that spending all that money on a Superbowl ad was unnecessary. Everyone had already seen the thing, mostly because it was so insensitively disgusting that it got posted all over the ‘net.
So, by teasing us all with hints about the ad, Focus on the Family reportedly raised millions of dollars (ostensibly to purchase the ad time). But here’s where the strategy has failed so far. They haven’t posted the ad on YouTube yet.
If they don’t do so soon, they won’t get the online airplay that Catholic Vote did. But then, maybe that won’t matter. After all, they already tricked their supporters into paying for the ad. Surely they’re hoping the ad will be rejected, so they can pocket the dough and all the moral outrage that will undoubtedly come from the ad being rejected.
Still, though the rejection will play into their hands, I do hope that the ad is dumped. As these legal bloggers in Alabama point out, the ad sends two very dangerous messages to women in a vulnerable place:
- Ignore your doctors’ advice, and everything will turn out OK
- The outcome of one pregnancy is more important than the well being of four children you already have
Furthermore, the blog raises a number of important questions about the ad, including the following:
- Is it a good idea to pray for a pregnancy while you are on a mission trip in the Philippines?
- Is God supposed to always bail us out when we make unwise decisions?
- Could [the Superbowl ad] money have been better spent? How much might it have helped adoption agencies or foster-care organizations?
In light of these important points, I hope the NFL and/or CBS reject the ad, if only to seem semi-consistent with their (supposed) no-advocacy/political ads policies. Yes, it will play into the hands of Focus on the Family, but at least this trashy right-wing attempt at upholding of Pam Tebow’s choice as a reason to deny others that same choice will not be foisted upon the poor victims of Superbowl fever.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS