‘Tis the Season for Jingle Testicles- I Mean Balls

Taking a break from homework and NaNoWriMo, I came across this video (as did 7 million other people):

If you haven’t been keeping up with the world wide interwebs, the above ad is for Kmart’s Joe Boxer briefs with that commercial flavor of Christmas we all know and love. Hilarious, right? If you don’t think so, please leave. Now.

I’m kidding. I love you. But I’m not sorry to say that if you were offended by it, we likely wouldn’t get along all too well. Unsurprisingly, in this largely coddled and politically correct society we inhabit, many people got their panties in a bunch and unleashed their self-righteousness on Kmart’s Facebook page:

“I wanted to post that I found your new commercial, (male dancers scantly clothed doing a holiday rendition) to be less than family friendly. If you are so desperate for customers that you need to be that degrading then you will probably never bring your numbers back… I will not be shopping your store this Christmas season.”

KMart Facebook Joe Boxers Jingle Bells Controversy

“Your ad “Show Your Joe” focusing on several men wearing Joe Boxer shorts thrusting to the tune of Jingle Bells is disgusting.

Your commercial is airing during primetime even during Christmas movies on family networks such as the Hallmark Channel, which families will likely watch together. Kmart should be more responsible in your marketing decisions. I am a parent and a consumer I am disgusted by your recent marketing choices.

A very concerned parent”

Of course these people have the right to their opinion just like anyone else and as much as I would like to be nice and respectful to everyone crying out against this ad…

Get over yourselves, you oversensitive fuddy-duddies with your classy sensibilities and “family values.”

And that’s all I really want to say in a nutshell, lest I get carried away and start frothing at the mouth like some of the commenters on the Facebook page and elsewhere.

To be fair, this isn’t the primary consensus. Actually, more people seem to love it more than hate it, pointing out that this ad is far tamer, less exploitative, and more fun than… pretty much any other ad that features scantily clad men or women shilling products not even related to naked bodies. Does this mean that minor exploitation is acceptable because it’s not as “bad” as a GoDaddy ad? Not necessarily. But it helps put ads like “Show Your Joe” in a broader perspective.

It’s just irritating hearing “think of the children” kind of arguments. As if every little thing that could even so much as be misconstrued as lewd/crass/disgusting/mean-spirited would shatter the morality of any and all children. Are we somehow ashamed or afraid to have to explain to our children what testicles are? That’s messed up. Instead of shielding our children from men shaking their jingle balls in holiday-themed boxer briefs, we should let them absorb it in their own way and give them a bit of guidance here and there. What kid is going to explicitly associate a line of silly men dancing in their underwear to a Chippendale’s show with man candy flopping their Kris Kringles around? “Tee hee, nuts.” What’s so harmful about that? Stop telling our children that genitals are morally icky or whatever…

But the moral fiber of our youth (which still includes me?) is a topic for another day.

Oh, and the woman who called the ad “tacky…” I’m sorry, have you not experienced Christmas in the United States before? Ok. I’m done.

In conclusion:

You know I don’t often comment on viral current events, especially concerning people ranting ridiculous on the Internet, but I actually really liked this ad. It made me laugh and I found it endearing (among other things). Stay laughing, my friends.

What do you think of the ad? Do you think Kmart knew it would be controversial? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read on:

First World Problems Are Not Real Problems (Hold on a Sec)

Before you scroll away, take note: this is not about the self-righteousness of the privileged and the armchair activists. This is not a shame piece on those who deny their privilege. This is not a solution to the unhappiness of the world. This is a perspective.

One Point Perspective Drawing - Civilization

First World Problems Are Not Real Problems

Does this mean the “first world” has no problems? No.

Does this mean the “first world” should be happier than the “third world?” No.

In popular culture, the term “first world problems” has become a joke dealing with the material luxuries and excesses of our culture. And when I refer to culture, I do not mean the culture of a specific ethnicity or country or borough. I refer to the culture of our civilization as a whole – not the concept of civilization, but our civilization as it is. The “first world problems” meme is something of a misnomer. It is misleading and yet it is completely accurate. You see, this idea does not deal with the deeper illnesses and shamefully hidden lesions of our culture, the true problems of the first world. We laugh at instances of “first world problems,” such as not being able to text because your fingers are too cold or forgetting your WiFi password for the dozenth time. At first, we laugh because we can relate. And the smirk dissolves into realization. We laugh because it’s true. And then we realize it is sad.

Our culture is not a happy one. Many of the inventions that were created to make our lives easier and more fulfilling simply do not. They were created – manufactured – for extrinsic reasons: money, fame, power.

But not contentedness.

“Nowadays People Know the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing.” 
– The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

There are some in our culture who have immersed themselves so deeply into the narrative of material paradise that they allow themselves to pretend to be happy. That is not true emotion; that is denial. It is a lie. I value the wisdom of accepting each individual’s reality, but on one condition: that the reality does no harm. The reality that we have been baptised in within the soothing cathedral walls of our culture is not harmless – far from it. These murky waters that we both wade in and drink from have clouded our minds. I am no unclouded messiah, no trained physician, nor am I the first to ever question the methods of our civilization. (In fact, I am only just beginning to explore the notion – and what an interesting excursion it is becoming). However, I do see that we are sick. None of us are immune and it is more than what a few teaspoons of cough medicine can fix.

Some people become sanctimonious, lamenting the supposed unhappiness and unnatural suffering of those in “less fortunate” countries. And I have bought into the sanctimony more than once, but I’m slowly getting my money back. Customer service may prove to be a bitch, but I am definitely going to get my money back.

“Finish Your Food – There Are Starving Kids In India”

Well, there are starving kids in Indiana, too. Finishing my plate of peas and carrots isn’t going to fix that problem. We are not all that better off than those “poor, dirty, backwards India folk.” At this point, the privileged saints of our culture froth at the mouth at such a blasphemous remark. “You are so ungrateful for what you have.” Am I? Yes, it is wonderful at the end of a lovely day at a higher education institution to be able to go home – a home with a roof and insulated walls; a home with central heating and clean, hot water; a place with electronic entertainment devices. I can drive to the grocery store in a sturdy, warm, cushy vehicle and get enough food to stock an underground fallout shelter. (And have enough food left over for a family reunion weekend).

But does this make me happy? No.

And does that answer make me ungrateful? No.

“First world problems” are not real problems. But it does not mean we do not have them. We are just more skilled at denying them.

What do you think about the idea of “first world privilege?” Can it be used fairly (without shaming)? Is it a responsibility of the “privileged” to better the world?

Read on: