To me, a guilty pleasure is a secret indulgence that one savors but rarely admits to. I suspect that everyone has at least one, two, or perhaps three such pleasures. For each day of the coming week, I aim to divulge one of my own guilty pleasures.
Sunday’s Guilty Pleasure: ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.’ Yes, I know, I should be tuned in to baseball or ‘The Simpsons,’ but occasionally, ‘Extreme Makeover’ captures my attention. This week’s episode featured a Navajo family living in a trailer without running water. By the end of the hour, the family was gifted a spacious home, thoughtfully designed in alignment with Navajo principles and architecture. There’s an undeniable warmth in witnessing a disadvantaged family receiving such a generous boost.
Yet, as I absorbed the episode, I began to ponder the other beneficiaries of this altruistic act. Specifically, Corporate America—the show’s sponsors. In this episode, Sears and Ford enjoyed substantial airtime, perhaps double the amount dedicated to the Navajo culture and living sustainably.
Ford pulled off a significant publicity coup by presenting the family with a Ford Escape Hybrid, touted as “the greenest SUV on Earth” or some equally catchy phrase. Now, I can’t exactly scoff, as my Toyota Tacoma only manages about 350 miles on a full tank, a figure that pales in comparison to the Escape’s advertised “500+.” So, credit where it’s due for pushing the envelope towards greener SUVs, something American automakers need more of. Yet, the grand unveiling of the Escape was preceded by a nominal “donation” of basic science equipment to the local high school—a few microscopes and lab kits, which seemed more like Toys ‘R’ Us fare than serious educational tools.
Perhaps it’s just me, but when a company wants to make a statement about social and environmental responsibility, a handful of microscopes doesn’t quite cut it. How about a fully equipped science lab focusing on renewable energy instead? Imagine the potential of educating future generations on green technology.
Given Ford’s reported $5.8 billion net loss in the third quarter of 2007, maybe an entire lab was a bridge too far. Perhaps American consumers have abandoned the F150 and its paltry 14/20 mpg rating in favor of less thirsty options (my Tacoma manages 20/25 mpg, just saying). A quick scan of the Ford website reveals a mere two cars surpassing 30 mpg.
The episode continued with a montage of house construction and furniture delivery, with nearly every frame subtly showcasing some home decor brand. It’s intriguing to consider the number of such subliminal ads that infiltrate our minds unregistered.
Strangely, the warm feeling I began with had evaporated by the end of the show. Instead, it felt like I had been unwittingly subjected to an hour-long commercial.
Yet, I can’t deny that I’ll probably tune in next week when they blow up a house.
So there you have it, one of my guilty pleasures, laid bare. Now, I must recuperate because, for some reason, I have this strange urge to swing by Sears tomorrow for a new power drill…
In terms of a title, considering the reflection on corporate influence in the post, a more suitable title might be: “Subliminal Sunday: A Guilty Pleasure Dissected.” This captures the essence of your reflections about your Sunday guilty pleasure and its underlying implications.