Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nature Stereotype Listing Badly

In part to lure an audience, television tends to emphasize the violent side of nature. Preferential exposure is given to storms, wildfires and animals with big teeth. When nature is consistently portrayed as an adversary, people may forget that its primary role is as an ally, and that it's up to us whether we want to work with its forces or against them.

The latest contribution to the stereotype of nature as adversary is an ad seen last week immediately following the Miss America contest. We had finally strayed from Ingrid Bergman's improbable romance with Anthony Perkins in "Goodbye, Again" just in time to see Miss Wisconsin crowned the new Miss America, which closed with an ad for Carnival Cruises. They've launched a new ad campaign that compares land-based and sea-based vacations.

In the ad, a couple gazing serenely out at the ocean, drinks in hand, flash back to last year's camping vacation, when they were trapped in a car out in the woods by an enormous grizzly bear and mountain lion, pawing at the car, trying to get at the occupants. "Never again.", the woman says. Obviously, it's best to avoid the dangers of nature in favor of a safe, clean vacation on a massive cruise ship.

The ad segued immediately, improbably, into ABC evening news' lead story about the cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy. Eleven found dead thus far, at least 24 missing. The ship is owned by a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. April 15 will be the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's demise. Not a great time to be touting cruises as safer than a camping trip.

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