Here in Connecticut there is a billboard right off a section of Route 8, shortly after my city bus gets on, and lately it has been reading
“you don’t have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent”
I look at that and think, “this is the idiocy that were surrounded with, one of the blatant contradictions in life that we need to correct.” In who’s mind does the message on that billboard make sense? One might say that in poetry we say things that are not true, and with that some might try to justify the actions of these advertising companies. As far as I’m concerned poetry is not the same, poetry is meant to exaggerate often times in order to mask something and/or make you think about it, as well, it could be to evoke an image or feeling within you.
I guess somewhere down the line, business and advertising found that the line between imagery and lies had to be blurred, or maybe simply, the concept of lying didn’t apply to their business practices. For some reasons these businesses, advertising companies, even these politicians felt it was alright to go even where poetry shouldn’t dare go. These people decided to blatantly lie for the purpose of gaining wealth. We dare to act as though we truly have morals or justice when all systems seem to conspire to keep lying companies in the business of greed. For companies the motive is simple, it has been and still is all about the money.
For this billboard and other things like it, the motive is a little less obvious, a little more hidden. There is a lot of wrong in this world; a lot of injustice, and one of the most common phrases I’ve heard in my lifetime is “don’t beat yourself up.” I can imagine it’s not a far cry from another phrase I’ve heard which is “don’t punish yourself”. Knowing some things about how slang works it is likely that one phrase is a descendant of the other.
Logically thinking why would you beat yourself up? Why would you beat someone else up? You would likely beat someone else up as a retaliatory act because they harmed you, but would you beat yourself up because you harmed yourself? Probably not. So “beat yourself up” is more verbal imagery. This is just like poetry, it’s purpose is more imagery than truth. “Don’t punish yourself” is a lot more likely to be the original statement. Why? Probably because it’s centuries now that mankind has this idea or lifestyle of when you do wrong you get punished. More often referred to as “cause and effect” if you like.
So taking that into consideration, I look at the aforementioned billboard and I see an exaggeration of “don’t beat yourself up” which is already an exaggeration of “don’t punish yourself”. This billboard seeks to make you stop looking at yourself in a negative light but it also seeks to make you look at yourself in a positive light as well. Let’s imagine that the billboard used different wording and said
“you don’t have to be good to be a good parent”.
For most that gives a much worse connotation, but negative connotation aside it’s a little more accurate, because perfection is not something you can really achieve in a piecemeal fashion.
To say you have a perfect finger to me is impossible if your hand is not perfect, because your finger is affected by the rest of your hand; the two cannot be separated. Also similarly you cannot say you have a perfect eye if your brain does not interpret the signals properly. If the image goes into your eye properly but your brains scrambles the signal and you see horribly, how can your eye be perfect? When it’s whole purpose is to provide you with accurate vision? It’s purpose has not been fulfilled, it cannot therefore be perfect.
But when we use the wording “good” as opposed to “perfect”, we can cross the line of perception from simple physical abilities to the connotation of moral decisions. Some people would say if you are not good, you are bad, there is no true middle. In other words if the billboard read “you don’t have to be good to be a good parent” most people would disagree and say that you cannot be a bad person and be a good parent. Maybe a paltry few may argue in favor of that, but I think it would be more appropriate to say a bad person can become a good person in order to become a good parent, but that’s another topic entirely.
So that leaves me with the question of what would be most accurate, and I think it would be
“you don’t have to be perfect to be a good parent”.
That would be most accurate, but with marketing as with poetry maybe it doesn’t present the “bang for the buck” that people are looking for. Maybe it doesn’t leave the impression in peoples minds that you want or probably need for a marketing strategy. We don’t remember things verbatim typically, and even if we do, we don’t typically take a complete grasp of an idea, especially in a situation such as a billboard on a highway. So that is probably why marketing agencies in particular go for the gusto and seek to plant the idea in your mind as deep and as firmly as possible, regardless of the misconceptions and errant views that are possible. It reminds me of the recent movie “Inception” they seek to plant a thought in your mind, again as deeply and firmly as they possible can for their own gain, not for yours.
Now this would be all well and good if the intentions were good, noble, beneficial, but the intentions are typically greed, not for the benefit of mankind. Of course how can this billboard be about greed, I can’t say it is. I guess most would then wonder, how can we claim something is for the benefit of mankind. That’s a whole different problem that people make too complicated by invoking deities in order to trump others opinions and thoughts. we could probably find out what’s beneficial for mankind if we really want to.
- Cobalt TiNor