Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Crushing Sound of Silence

What could be worse than no reaction at all? Nothing that I can think of at the moment.

Absolut Reconquest Ad You've probably heard by now about the Absolut ad that ran in Mexico that appealed to Mexican nationalists. It was an ad that played on regional pride and showed a "perfect" world where Mexico still had control over the Southwestern United States. Ads usually aim to be memorable and this one was no different. The problem was it was highly political and extremely insensitive to the people who live in the USA in the green areas. I happen to live in that area. Utah was one of the areas turned over to American control in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Putting aside the fact that Mexican control of that area was only a little over 70 years, or that the United States of America has had control of the area for over 150 years, or even that the people who truly were robbed were the Native Americans, there was one aspect of this ad that bothered me: the double standard.

Would Absolut run a regional ad in Germany depicting the map of Europe under Nazi control in the 1940s as a "perfect" world? Or a regionally run ad in Moscow that depicted all of Europe under the banner of the USSR? No, you know they would not. However, bashing America is A-OK world wide. As an American I grow a bit weary of it. I began to wonder what an Absolut ad targeted to supposed "American Imperialists" would look like if the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo never happened and if America had reached its control all the way into Mexico. Would such an ad be offensive?

Absolut Satire
Firing up Photoshop last Friday morning I set about working some digital magic on the lores copy of the ad I had. I erased borders, shifted labels, superimposed maps, and touched everything up. When I was done I was fairly satisfied with the quick little hack job I had done. I thought that the ad made it's point well. If this ad was offensive, then why wasn't the original? All that was left was to put it up.

I placed links at michellemalkin.com (who helped break the story), flickr.com, skitch.com, and posted it to my Twitter stream. I even commented on the original blog which bragged about the ad and defended it. After all that, my photoshopped version has only been viewed 1000 times at this moment in time, which isn't a whole heckuvva lot. But more puzzling was that nobody, absolutely nobody, responded in Twitter or at michellemalkin.com. In fact, only one comment has been posted at this time at my ad's flickr page, and that was for a request for a different map altogether.

I expected comments for the ad. I expected comments against the ad. I did not expect silence.

I have to admit that I am surprised at how little my political satire has affected people. Obviously, I am either not connected enough, or my satire is not biting enough to warrant reactions in people. True, Absolut has offered not one but two apologies for the ad with a promise to pull the ad and tighten approval over ads generated at local agencies. Perhaps I missed the zeitgeist of the moment, and the proverbial All is well if All ends well. Still, I am left with a feeling of dissatisfaction, and it has started me thinking.

As I patiently await word from an editor in New York concerning a manuscript I sent her, and as I prepare to finish my second children's book this year, as well as continue working on my novel, I have to ask myself why it is that I cannot connect with people and am I wasting my time? I am going to be 42 this year and I need to spend my time working on things that matter. If I cannot connect with people, then my books will not connect with editors, or buyers, or readers. That means I either need to figure out how to connect with people or I need to be working on something else. Time is not my friend. It ticks onward and doors of opportunity lock shut behind me.

My midlife crisis is obviously picking up into a crescendo and the daily grind as homemaker is doing little to fill my needs. However, a lack of response to a silly satire of a vodka ad is not going to set me back. It was a harmless diversion and there are other things I care more about. I worry instead that this is a type of things to come as I pursue a career as an author. My work must strike a chord in the people who read it. Otherwise, it will be soundly rejected and discarded. Not everything I write will appeal to all types, though. My path needs to be clear in front of me so that I can weather the storms of silence life has in store. I've never been the kind to not let my feelings show. In addition, a lifetime of AD/HD error has left my self-esteem battle scarred and worn. Consequently, I find it amusing that I am pursuing a course of action that requires rock solid self-esteem and tough skin. Actually, the paradox is rather typical of me.

So enjoy the satire I created and wish me luck on writing. I'll be needing a lot of it.