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Ed Driscoll

Dad Can’t Catch A Break

May 19th, 2009 - 1:38 am

At Newsbusters, Kerry Picket spots the women-oriented Lifetime cable network beating up on divorced fathers.

Meanwhile, in a TV ad that would play perfectly on that estrogen-besotted network, James Lileks spots MasterCard recreating this scene from George Orwell’s 1984:

Up with your hands!’ yelled a savage voice.

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table and was menacing him with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister, about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood. Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts, and red neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the Spies. Winston raised his hands above his head, but with an uneasy feeling, so vicious was the boy’s demeanour, that it was not altogether a game.

‘You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy. ‘You’re a thought-criminal! You’re a Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt mines!’

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting ‘Traitor!’ and ‘Thought-criminal!’ the little girl imitating her brother in every movement. It was somehow slightly frivictorykidghtening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of calculating ferocity in the boy’s eye, a quite evident desire to hit or kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so. It was a good job it was not a real pistol he was holding, Winston thought.

Mrs Parsons’ eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the children, and back again. In the better light of the living-room he noticed with interest that there actually was dust in the creases of her face.

‘They do get so noisy,’ she said. ‘They’re disappointed because they couldn’t go to see the hanging, that’s what it is. I’m too busy to take them. and Tom won’t be back from work in time.’

Of course, as Jonah Goldberg noted in Liberal Fascism, Orwell’s 1984 represents the hard-edged, martial tone of totalitarianism. Whereas Huxley’s softer Brave New World is closer to today’s equally all-enveloping, but kinder and gentler political correctness.

Not to mention environmental correctness:

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As Lileks notes:

If I had a Mastercard, I’d print this ad out frame by frame and sent it along with my shredded card. Isn’t it interesting how Dad looks like the sort of delayed-adolescent types most likely to be already concerned about these things, and spending his day working on developing websites for sustainability, hosted on servers powered by methane captured from pig excreta?  For that matter, who would like this ad?  Wives who regard their husbands as overgrown boys in need of the Moral Guidance of those who will inherit the earth, perhaps.

James adds, “One more thing: if the kid didn’t learn these steps to righteousness at home, where did he get them?”

In this case, the two-way telescreen of the Internet or DirecTV comes immediately to mind. Orwell would likely be horrified by this ad, at least the mature Orwell who would come to write 1984 at the very end of his life as a warning for where the overreach of the socialism he once championed could lead in the post-WWII west.

But another early 20th century intellectual would probably love this commercial if he were he alive today. On Sunday, building on Fred Siegel’s essay in City Journal, I wrote of H.G. Wells’ fin de siècle writing as “The Shape Of Sin To Come” — a century later, MasterCard’s ad perfectly defines what passes for sin amongst the puritanical left in the first decade of the new millenium.

Related: Kids, credit cards and the blowout debt our politicians have foisted upon the next generation are explored in a new post by the L.A. Times’ Andrew Malcolm.

With a video assist from Hello Kitty.

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