A Tale of Two Car Commercials

Two recent car commercials have used the transition from couplehood to parenthood as a way to highlight the need for purchasing vehicles.  One commercial spot takes a decidedly pro-child position and the other takes a decidedly pro-selfishness position.  These commercials are a great study in the competing ideologies for reproduction that exist, sadly, within the Christian church in America.

The first commercial is for the Honda CR-V crossover.

It begins with the female character stating, “I think I want a baby” and the male character then goes off on a panic attack.

But, he wants to see the Northern Lights.

But, he wants to go spelunking.

But, he wants to build a fighting robot.

By the end of the commercial, he agrees to the request, but adds “Okay, just a few things we need to do first.”

Now. I understand what this ad is supposed to communicate.  It is supposed to communicate that life sneaks up on us.  That we need to be better prepared for all the “surprises” that hit us.  That we need to be flexible in life.  I think each of these are great comments.  However, at the heart of this commercial is something much more dangerous — a self-centered ideology.

The first time I saw this commercial I wanted to have a conversation with this couple wherein I posed a number of questions:

1. Why is having kids a function of your desire, instead of the social/natural progression of your marriage?  I mean, isn’t that why people get married?  To start families?

Now-a-days young couples get bombarded by terrible advice from older couples.  “Enjoy your first few years of marriage and don’t rush into having kids.  Kids will ruin your couplehood.”  Why are kids considered to be such a drag?  If kids are a drag, then why have them at all?  If they are not a drag, then why not have them as soon as the Lord allows?

And furthermore, why get married if kids are not an immediate option?  I ask folks this question all the time and the usual response is, “Kids are expensive and we need to save up first.”  My response is always the same, “Then don’t get married until you are financially able to support a family.”  I often feel like Christians get married in order to have sex without guilt.  But sex leads to having kids, so why not factor that financial need into the mix and not get married until you can afford a family (Somewhere, Dave Ramsey is saying, “AMEN!”)?

2. This brings up another confusing aspect of this commercial.  Why do humans believe that they are the center of the reproductive process?  Here is a not so dirty secret in baby making: Many couples struggle with infertility.  In other words, kids are not a given.  So, why does this couple presume that just because they have decided to start having kids that kids will be an automatic?  This presumption takes God out of the center of the universe and puts mankind in that spot.  And this is a dangerous ideology both for life and for reproductive purposes — one that, I sense, has been afforded to humans since the contraceptive boom of the 60s and 70s.

3. Why are trips to Alaska, a cave, and robot wars a higher priority than having kids?  I want to ask this couple what they think about telling their future children about the time before they were born.  How are the kids going to feel that robots and stars were more of a priority than they were? Is this really what these parents want to communicate to their children?

Now, I admit.  I may be taking this commercial beyond its intended communication value.  But the whole campaign feels gross and icky to me, especially in light of this Nissan commercial.

In this spot, the dad is initially thrilled, but immediately begins to take stock of the things that need to change to prepare for the coming child.  He immediately walks outside and laments the prospect of giving up his sports car.  But then he turns his sports car into a sedan to accomodate his growing family.  By comparison, the dad is equally shocked by the change of life, but is noticeably more engaged and excited at the prospects of a family.

In the end, I pray that Christian couples would be more like Nissan and less like Honda in their marriage/family worldview.

About Doug Hankins

Although not a Christian in his youth, Doug came to believe in Jesus during his teenage years. When not playing sports or pastoring Doug is probably spending time with his wife, reading a good book, or drinking some hot tea. Doug's first book Dawson Trotman: In His Own Words is available wherever books are sold. You can follow Doug on twitter.
This entry was posted in Culture, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Tale of Two Car Commercials

  1. Aneita says:

    great website, great posts. i will also encourage my friends to read your posts.http://www.magiccampusbrasil.net

  2. Valerie says:

    Gosh, I wish I could come over and sit at your kitchen table and talk— alas—this is what we’ve got.

    Overall I’m with you when it comes to the perpetuated self-centered ideology of our current culture especially as it relates to parenting/bearing children. But I have areas of disagreement or qualification that spurred me to tweet back at you.

    My main point of contention is to your opinion that marriage’s essential function is childbearing.  “I mean, isn’t that why people get married?  To start families?”

    I read this to say families are only considered such if they contain children— In my opinion a husband and wife are considered a family first and then the categorization extends to whoever else would come with/after that. But ‘family’ does not necessarily require children to be family. Also that the underlying point of marriage is to procreate. I foundational disagree with that. Does it happen?—it does. Is it a natural progression?—is it. Maybe I’m the self-centered one you’re talking about, but I don’t want to marry someone and build life with them just for their swimmers.

    Do you believe that everyone should have children? What if some people would be really, really unsuitable—would you say that they need to depend on the Lord and go for it anyway. In the same vein, should those who ‘don’t’ want kids not get married? Should they be praying for the desire to want kids? Should they get married because they love & are committed to each other and then if they get pregnant it’s like, well, that’s cool. ?

    I’m on board with the financial things you said & the immediate option things you said. No one will ever be studied enough for parenting. Most will never be financially “ready” for them either. Marriage itself is (in my mind) a secure/stable place where you’re not afraid of what will happen because you have a covenant commitment—this includes children, financial instability, sickness, etc. The family planning mentality seeks to cut God out at every turn.
    May I ask what your thoughts are on birth control? I know plenty of birth control babies and have also seen the ’38 and Counting’ Duggars show (jk, I think it’s like 19 now). Do we all go Catholic method or use contraceptives while we pray for God to tell us when to stop?

    Why are trips to Alaska, a cave, and robot wars a higher priority than having kids? 
    That’s such an opinion question. Why do people have to like kids or the idea of having them simply because it’s natural? Now I see this as less about priority and more about sequence. Just because a person is married why do they have to have a kid now or even try?
    Why can’t pre-parents do cool things so that afterward they can stick closer to home and raise those kids to seek out great adventure? You have to admit that spelunking is a lot easier without a toddler. My idea is that you don’t have to stop doing fun things once you become a parent. The lie in these commercials is that if you have kids you will never have any fun again. BIG FAT LIE. Sure you may have to wait a few years till they can walk and use the bathroom by themselves—but why not take them to Costa Rica to go on the zipline? Why not bike through the Redwoods with your kids? That would be the best idea ever.

    Most people’s perspective on having kids is much like the doctors who will help birth them—how can we make this the most convenient for MY schedule? And there’s the gross, icky feeling you talked about.

    • Adrian says:

      Anybody hippaly married will say marriage is not over rated, and those who dont have that will over rate that..so its a very subjective issue.Like evrything else it also has its own pros and cons, and to me if one is a loner its better to live without marriage, but in the old age one loves the family acquired after long hours of toil and hard work.And i am taking it for granted that one shouldnt have children without marriage, as its depriving children.Its not that inlaws dont adjust.they also adjust a lot with new young entrant who is sometimes a complete tyrant annd arrogant andselfish girl.I see many girl crying at the mere news of their mother getting hypertension, but preparing food with more salt without caring for their MIL with high BP, leaving their invalid MIL in the hands of servants to look after their mother at a slightest need.and I can tell you hundred more things like that.so its both ways and both get benefit also.Its very easy to blame inlaws for everything, but many times its mothers who are responsible for thestrife in their daughter’s married life, because they give wrong advices and its they who have made their daughters the way they are.sdya5

      • Mele says:

        I do question hvwoeer stats that say that married people are happier and live longer than singles. I have heard that in just about every Christian venue. I’m not saying that there is not legitimate research on this but I just have not seen it NOR have I really seen that married people are happier and healthier than singles. I’m 48 years old. I have never married and I have seen that I am way more happier than many of my married friends. Over a span of maybe 20-25 years I have had many married people telling me to not rush into marriage. I used to get angry at them because I thought they were just trying in a perverse way to encourage me. As I got older I realized that more and more of the ladies probably would not remarry their husbands. I have had some actually say this to me. That was really sad. I have also not seen any real difference in the health of married and single people. They all have health problems at the same rate. If you have true research on this I would sincerely like to see it. In the past I have felt that so-called research like this was used in churches to make singles feel like something was wrong with them if they were not married. Now I understand that a lot of it is because they are marketing their churches to ‘families’, not singles. At the same time I can understand churches trying to value marriage because society has pretty much thrown it out. Being single nowadays is when you are not dating. That was not the definition when I grew up. Society has equated a dating relationship to marriage.However I do agree that there are benefits to marriage. I also agree that children fare better in marriage situations. I have had people that shack up that tell me that marriage is just a piece of paper. I counter them by saying that if it is just a piece of paper just spend the money and get married because your legal status will not be questioned. You also will be able to take advantage of many benefits that businesses and our government that married people get. They know it is not just a piece of paper. It is a true commitment that people should not enter into lightly.Who is Salma Hayek? I have no clue.It will be interesting to see the comments on this.

      • Whang says:

        in HJNTIY. When a a man says he doesn’t want to be married, he allusuy means that he doesn’t want to be married to you- love conquers fear of committment. Men will stay in a relationship- as long as they’re getting sex- for as long as they can or until something better comes along.Michael Baisden said the same thing in a book of his–that if a man refuses to marry a woman that he’s been in a relationship with, it’s because he’s actually looking around for someone better.I wasn’t about to live with a man and do everything a wife does and not get the benefits of being a wife. That’s like working for free. LOL!So I let them know I was the marrying kind very early in the dating relationship and I was ready to walk if either one of them said to me that he was not the marrying kind. Aside from the romance and la-de-da, marriage is a legal relationship. It gives both spouses legal protection and benefits, so the state is involved in the relationship and MONEY is involved. This is why homosexuals are going to fight to the bitter end to get their unions legalized. Maybe lots of blacks don’t know the benefits of legalizing a union, but homosexuals certainly do. Another aspect of this is that some people will work harder to make a marital relationship a successful one. I know I’ve worked harder at my marriages than I would have ever worked at a live-together relationship. And all good relationships take WORK. To be honest, If I hadn’t been married to my husbands, I probably would have left both of them the first few times we argued (prior to the kids) because men can really get on a woman’s nerves sometimes. LOL!! Definitely, I would not have been “committed” at all if I had not been married. I would not trust a man who only wanted to do things half-azz with me. That’s just me. So if either of my husbands had refused to marry me yet we lived together prior to marriage, I certainly would have kept my bags packed because IMO, a man who refuses to marry a woman is telling her something whether she wants to hear it or not. I also would have been keeping my eye out for someone better just like the man.

  3. So, so funny you write about this because just this weekend my husband and I watched the Honda commercial where the guy asks the girl to get married and she too starts visualizing all the thing she needs to do before marriage “ends the fun” so to speak. Yeesh….the only desire this and the Honda commercial you mentioned induce in me is massive eye-rolling. and it got my husband and I discussing what type of commentary is this on our society that advertisers feel there is any audience out there (sadly) that this speaks to. And because we are the type of parents that find teaching moments everywhere (I know, our poor kiddos) we turned to our girls (teenagers) and had a brief discussion on pre-concieved ideas of marriage and some truths….and they happily relayed to us they thought the message in the commercial was “pathetic”.

    • Raj says:

      I will speak from a pecrpestive that is both Indian and Western. Before I was married, I tried very hard to find the right one and in the process undermined myself. Now going thru a divorce with a child I realize apart from the little one there was nothing good about the marriage. Of course not all marriages are like mine but finally I have understood and learnt(alas from personal experience only!) that marriage is completely over-rated. In our Indian society a women is almost defined by a marriage! Hindu married women are covered head to toe in marriage symbols (men don’t bother to show their status), women fast, pray etc etc for this male figure who continues to stay in his own house, being mama’s little boy, doesn’t have to sacrifice career for kids what do women get in return? Security is imp for a dependent women but for independent women there is not much in it. Of course in the western setting (which is not perfect either) it is a little better, with partners as equal living by themselves the woman is not married to the whole HOUSEHOLD! Bottom line if there is love, equality, compromises from both sides then marriage can be lovely otherwise stay away from it!! And lets not get started on the dowry angle

      • Madalina says:

        I used to tell everybody not to botehr to get married but I say it less and less these days. I think that is because my husband and I finally figuring our own equation out, the goods and bads.Do I think marriage is over-rated? Not for commitment-phobic me who walked out of all relationships when the going got tough. Being married helped me stick it out and discover why the compromise’ and adjustment’ makes sense and also exactly how much compromise’ and adjustment’ I’m willing to go in for. (My MIL will tell you I’ve done none, I’ll say I’ve compromised cartloads life is all about perspectives!)Waise, Hip Grandma, I do see what you are saying and I agree entirely with your original comment. Mostly the girls’ parents are pretty accommodating (big generalisation and I am obviously speaking from what I’ve seen around me) and it makes a big difference if the boy’s family can show the same acceptance and restraint.But there is more to marriage obviously than the extended family members. Perhaps my grandchildren will not agree once day, but waking up next to the man you are married to has seemed sweeter to me than any numbers of mornings waking up to the boyfriends who I did love when I was with them. Perhaps the difference comes from the shared responsibilities and shared parenting and shared joys and frustrations.

Comments are closed.