Foot in Mouth™ Spotlight?

Being responsible with power means acknowledging and being accountable for the impact our actions have on others.

So, what are you doing about ethics today?

Here’s where we take aim at the worst, most irresponsible creative campaigns we’ve seen.

Monthly, often daily, we’re confronted, even assaulted, by a film, article, media story or advertising campaign that glorifies abusive, unethical, disrespectful, and even destructive behavior.

In 2002, films definitely hogged first place. While the offenses were legion and too numerous to outline, two films could not be overlooked: “Jackass: The Movie” and “Forty Days & Forty Nights.” The former film for destructive examples set and the latter for disappointing opportunities squandered. (See reviews below.)

The following ratings legend reflects, in our opinion, an absence or misuse of good ethical values and are attached whenever applicable after each review:

Warning to all. Destructive and abusive. STAY AWAY!!
Utter Trash Zone. (Zero redemption or recycling value, even in California).
BEWARE! Crossed or non-existent boundaries.
CONFUSED MESS! Puleeze go back to Frame #1 and start over!
Excuse us, but did we really see what we think we saw???
Excuse us, but did we really hear what we think we heard???
DANGER! DANGER! Exposure could do real damage!
We’d ask “want were you thinking” but we know the answer: you weren’t!

Even though every year at review time we tell ourselves that things just can’t get worse, we end up being so, so wrong!

The Worst
Our favorite commercial WORST was:

A Nordstrom TV ad that featured a semi truck traveling down a busy freeway while furniture, shoes, and assorted clothing were thrown out of its rear doors into the path of oncoming cars.

And we had simply had to give a dishonorable mention to: for its Super Bowl commercials featuring animals being shot out of a cannon.

Wow! It just boggles the mind, doesn’t it? But as bad as they were, there were several films that absolutely outdid them.

Our picks for worst cinema were:

“Jackass: The Movie.” This terrifying glorification of destructive, abusive behavior, combined with the lowest level of taste possible, capitalized off the success of the TV series that resulted in tragic outcomes for a number of teens emulating stunts depicted on air. Bottom line: this film raked in an even bigger bonanza of profits off their loyal following.

Hey, you irresponsible folks (producers, actors and media critics alike): how would you have liked it if one of your kids had ended up dead or in the hospital because of this piece of garbage? Would you still have found the profits worthwhile?

“ Forty Days & Forty Nights.” This misbegotten film, while featuring two of the most talented young actors today, Josh Hartnett & Shannyn Sossamon, nevertheless set a new low for gross peer behavior and abusive, non-existent boundaries between friends and co-workers.

The plot, or lack thereof, concerned with a vow of celibacy made during Lent to try and break an addiction to sex, was a stale variation on a tired cliché. But to make matters worse, it missed countless opportunities to show any kind of growth or maturation of our hero or his friends (if you could call them that). Any kind of renewed strength of character might have given it a fresh, light twist. But alas, no! While Mr. Hartnett struggled to control his urges, he remained stuck in a job surrounded by malicious, prying, ridiculing, over-sexed co-workers and in an apartment with an asinine roommate who crossed every conceivable boundary of privacy, decency and respect. Apparently Mr. Harnett’s character was completely clueless that he had CHOICES!

What could have been a cute, endearing romantic comedy ended up taking a cheap “Porky-esque” road to bad taste and adolescent jokes about masturbation and lack of control.

And now, for one more Dishonorable Mention:

Progresso Soup. This more recent TV campaign was based on an insulting, deprecating concept depicting a “smarter, grown-up-taste” person who knows how to buy the “right” soup and instructs the “stupid, childish-taste” person to grow up and “buy right.”

One of the latest versions, depicting a nagging, controlling mother with no apparent respect for appropriate boundaries in her relationship with her daughter, tipped the scales for us and sent us out the door screaming: “…you have to be kidding!”

Hey, Progresso, couldn’t you have found a way to sell your soup without insulting someone?

The Best
Since we are saddened and discouraged daily by the emphasis the media places on outrageous, criminal and destructive deeds, we dedicate our special Halo award to works of creative effort that exemplify the highest levels of integrity, respect and humanity.

And The Halo Award goes to…
Without question, one of last years films, “Finding Forrester.” This exquisite film set the bar very high for those who will follow with its sensitive, insightful, strong and uncompromising look at respect for privacy, appropriate boundaries, integrity, fairness, honesty and loyalty of the highest caliber.

Bravo to “Finding Forrester, ” our first Halo Award winner!

Ed. Note:
While we firmly support the right of each of us to express our opinions and feelings, we also firmly believe that adults, as well as media, press, and commercial organizations, have a huge responsibility and enormous privilege to be accountable for the messages they transmit, for the examples they set, and for the resultant disasters they encourage.