Our Story Begins:
Kids, Commercials and NOTHING Left To The Imagination
I’m no prude.
Really, I’m not.
Yes, I’m a Midwestern boy. Yes, I keep most of my politics private and fairly middle of the road. Yes, I’m a Catholic born, raised and continue to be.
But I’m not a prude.
I did and have done things that might make people I know look at me funny. They might even have varying opinions of me if they ever knew some of the things I’ve done.
But I’m a Dad now. I have four kids, of varying ages. My oldest, 18-year-old Abbi, knows a lot about life, sex, and has had discussions and embarrassed questions to ask and I’ve done my best to answer them, as did her mother before she passed away.
My 13-year-old has fewer ideas, but has the basics.
My twin sons are nine. Enough said.
So imagine my surprise when last night I turned on AMC, the American Movie Channel, in order to watch the most simple of programming: Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s not even the rocking, psychedelic based Johnny Depp/Tim Burton version, but the old, sweet, Gene Wilder one.
So the hard part for me, making lunches in the kitchen while they watched, was looking up after Wilder’s “no place I know to compare with pure imagination . . . “ to see this:
“It’s a place called ‘Pleasureville’ and you can live there, too, with the Trojan Vibrating Twister.”
The wife gets hurriedly excited, shouts for her husband, and the double entendres ensue.
I’m not mad at the company. Not mad at the fact vibrators exist or even are used regularly. Not my business. Men have been lying about pleasuring themselves for centuries.
It’s that some brain surgeon at AMC never checked to see they were putting a sex toy commercial in the middle of Willie freaking Wonka!
I raced, leaping over the kitchen chair in the way, to the remote and changed the channel, hoping to change back later. I could have just muted the TV, saying it was annoying, what have you. Instead it led to “Why are you changing the channel? Can’t we watch it, Dad? What was wrong??!!”
I’m staring into two little nine-year-old faces and all I can think of is the housewife on the television pleasuring herself somehow. I told them I wanted to check another channel and would switch back. Which I did, cognizant now of the commercial breaks.
As I said, I’m no prude. I’ve done things that I could still fantasize about in my own time. But to have a kids’ movie – and you don’t get more kid than Willie Wonka – and a vibrator commercial in the same space?! What were they thinking?! And should they apologize for it? I wonder how many families saw this.
It’s not the commercial or even the fact that the items, commercials, or ads exist. It’s the placement of that ad. I wasn’t watching Walking Dead or Justified on FX, or even Mad Men. Those shows all have mature themes and adult content. I don’t let my little ones watch those shows, if a Trojan commercial comes on during those, fine.
But Willie Wonka?! Not the time. I work in television. I get that the ad department and the programming department aren’t even on the same floor most the time. Still, would you put a Remington gun commercial in the middle of a Dateline special on school shootings?
I avoided this minefield, today, but what if I hadn’t?
What about you? Do you worry about what your kids see on the television? I know it is our job to monitor their programming, but when you do that, do you expect the people you pay for programming to be cognizant of what they’re airing, too?
Sound off, folks. I’d like to know!
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Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.