Enough. We don't know how to manipulate you or your kids against your will. And though I know of no advertisers who use subliminal practices, if there are cranks who attempt it, don't let them scare you. Scientifically valid testing has shown that subliminal advertising has no effect. At all. (Yes, I am aware of so-called tests that allegedly say otherwise. The tests are based on flawed methodology and are invalid.) (Speaking of matters sublimimal, those tapes that play while you’re asleep? Pure flimflam.)
As I write, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is pushing legislation to “eliminate the tax deductibility of fast food and junk food advertising directed at children.”
Advertising is a business expense. What is legal to sell should be legal to advertise. If you object to a product, seek to have it banned, not to make it harder to sell.
Meanwhile, try personal responsibility as a parent for a change. Yes, shocking as it may sound, I am suggesting teaching values in your home. You can use those dreaded media messages as launch points for great, values-centered conversations.
Do not blame your and your kids' bad habits on the media. No one is obese because the media made them that way. People get fat when they eat more than they burn. Kids get fat when parents don't ensure they get a balanced diet. Certainly the why behind a compulsive overeating problem is a more involved question, but ads are not part of the answer.
Ads suggest. You still get to decide what to do with the suggestion. And you remain accountable for the decision, no matter whom you try to blame.
Some related thoughts:
• Ever notice the double standards used by ad-blamers? Most will tell you that they are not controlled by ads; it's everyone else they're worried about.
• People claim that fast food ads cause obesity. Yet people also claim that skinny models in ads cause anorexia and bulimia. Come on, folks. Pick one.
• Programming is far less regulated than advertising. You will see actors drink booze in movies and TV shows, but never in a TV commercial. It's illegal, even in a booze ad. Remember the old Playtex commercials that showed bras on mannequins but not on real women? That was because, until a couple of decades ago, you could show a lingerie-clad woman in programming—even naked, in a movie—but not in a commercial.
• If you want to save lives, I suggest raising your voice against Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccination crusade. Kids may be getting plump at McDonald’s, but McCarthy's actions are killing tens of thousands of children right now, with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands or more in the near future. And, sadly, someday putting them on a diet won’t save these kids.