Can Super Bowl commercials—or any ads with violent content—make folks, particularly children, more angry and aggressive? Yes, they can, goddammit! So say the social advocates at the Riverview Center in Iowa, which prior to Sunday’s game ran a Bingo-style newspaper ad asking readers to note violent (and/or anti-female) imagery in the ads. More notably, the print piece then brought attention to a year-old Riverview TV spot that’s proven incendiary. In the ad, below, we’re shown a white backdrop, as a voiceover and text begin: “He’s tough. He’s strong. He’s aggressive. He’s powerful. And … he raped his girlfriend. But he wasn’t always this way.” The big reveal: a smiling baby, along with the question, “What are you teaching your son?” Riverview leader Josh Jasper says he’s gotten death threats, including an e-mail suggesting he be “taken out and shot after a five-minute trial.” Well, at least that shows respect for due process. Jasper wryly notes that the reaction to the spot seems to underscore the group’s point. It’s usually video games that have to deal with accusations that they promote real-world violence, but advertising is catching up. Oh baby, is it ever. Just ask HomeAway!
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