Vegetables, Homework, Women

June 6, 2008

This morning on 3rd Street, somewhere near Avenue A, I noticed an ad about spousal abuse. It seemed a bit odd at first glance and continued to bother me for another avenue or two. The text was simple, reading “Eat Your Vegetables. Do Your Homework. Respect Women.” Pictured was a young boy. Finally, somewhere around the subway entrance I realized what was grating at me.

I’m sure the public agency sponsoring this ad had its heart in the right place. My issue is with this being a pretty poor ascending triad, and in this case “pretty poor” is a bloodless euphemism for “grossly misconstructed.” No little boy really wants to eat his vegetables and no little boy wants to do his homework. He’ll (hopefully) understand the importance of these both at some point in his future, but until then the truth remains jammed away in some unused crevice of his conscience.

So do we really want public advertisements comparing respect towards women with carrot sticks and problem sets? In this itemized list, all three collapse into a pile of healthy obligations ignored in pursuit of teenage rebellion. Maybe I’m overestimating the impact of some poorly designed, publicly financed ad campaigns on 3rd Street, but this is probably the exact wrong comparison to draw.