Have you guys seen the commercial about “Jack’s cereal”? The one where the middle aged, middle class parents talk about how delicious their new breakfast cereal is? The Dad says, “Tastes almost like one of Jack’s cereals” and the Mom immediately grimaces, saying, “Oh, no! I forgot Jack’s cereal!” This is followed by the entrance of said “Jack”, who looks to be about ten years old. He asks, as kids are known to do, “What’s for breakfast?” The parents appear to be momentarily immobilized by fear (presumably because they have forgotten to buy “Jacks’s cereal”.) Then the Dad, quick thinking guy that he is, puts a finger over the real name of the high fiber cereal and offers it to Jack, who likes the taste. Mom and Dad then go limp in obvious relief.
This commercial brings up so many issues for me that I hardly know where to begin!
First of all: Why does Jack get his own preferred cereal? Couldn’t he eat what the family eats?
Second: If Mom (who most likely has a job, cleans the house, does Jack’s laundry and has to do car pool duty) forgot his cereal for once, why don’t the parents look Jack in the eye and say, “Jack, today you can have oatmeal, or make yourself some toast.” What, the kid will be scarred for life if his cereal is missing one day?
Third: Why does Mom look terrified when Jack appears and takes a taste of the high fiber cereal? Does he generally set fire to the house when his food tastes are thwarted?
Fourth: Jack looks old enough to pop down a bagel by himself. Dare I say, he also looks old enough to make himself some eggs. He is clearly old enough to understand that once in a while he won’t get exactly what he wants when he wants it.
Fifth: If Mom and Dad think that Jack should have high fiber cereal, they should just tell him that, hand him the cereal, and walk out the door.
This commercial sends some really terrible messages. It gives us the idea that to disappoint a child, even in something as trivial as his choice of cereal, should cause us to collapse in remorse. It tells us that parents exists strictly to meet every desire and whim of the child. The commercial shows us that it is wrong for parents to give their children healthy food if it doesn’t please the children, but right for parents to lie to those children to avoid a tantrum.
What the hell?
Jack is clearly the kid here. Mom and Dad are clearly the parents. How did they miss the fact that it is their job to nurture Jack, rather than keep him constantly smiling? How did they fail to notice that they are supposed to be educating Jack about how to live a long, prosperous and healthy life?
Honestly, Jack looks like a pretty awesome kid in the ad. I’d like to have him in my class! Mom and Dad, however, look like the kind of parents who would panic and demand a change in the curriculum if Jack wasn’t happy learning about the Civil War.
I will never, ever buy the cereal in this ad. No way.
Cap’n Crunch, however, makes my shopping list.