"Guess which Super Bowl ad bothered me the most, now that I've had a bit of time to process them?" I asked my teens on the way home from school.
"The one with Hef and the bunnies?" one of them guessed.
"Nah. That poor oxymoron of a guy? Surrounded by women with low self-esteem and unable to have sex without Viagra? No, all I can do is feel sorry for him."
"The one with the woman's strap about to burst? The pizza ad with the teenager and the sexy woman?"
"No." Great. Do they think the only aspect of pop culture that pushes my buttons is the abuse of female sexuality? I must be getting predictable ...
"Then which one?"
"The clip of that Disney movie, The Shaggy Dog. I keep seeing that scene in my mind of the old lady being knocked over and flung into a tree. Since when is an act of violence against an elderly person supposed to be funny?"
Silence from the back seat — the silence that means they've actually heard what I've said and are processing it. The teasing started soon after ("Mom's mad that Tim Allen didn't cast her for that role, etc., etc."), but I knew I'd made my point, especially when one of them brought up the ad as we prayed for their grandparents later that night.
Lesson: If I'm going to react negatively to something in pop culture, I need to use the element of surprise every now and again, but only if I'm telling the truth. And it was true. I couldn't get that image of violence against an older woman out of my head, along with the Fabio commercial that capitalized on the fear of aging. And then, at half-time, we had the ancient Rolling Stones cavorting on stage belting out the same songs they sang thirty years ago, with Jagger grasping to youth as tightly as he was squeezing his microphone. Why does pop culture denigrate the act of graceful saging? Why are our kids taught to ignore and taunt the weaknesses of the elderly? I don't know about you, but it's getting harder and harder for me to see the old woman in the drawing above.