Of Respect and Decorum

Believe it or not, some folks will read the title of this, scratch their head, and think, “Huh?” Their first problem will be the terms themselves. Oh, some may have an idea about respect, if they are old enough to remember the Aretha Franklin song by that name. Decorum on the other hand may leave them cold. After all, what does the way someone fixes up their home or office have to do with respect? *

Okay, that last sentence was a bit snarky and not respectful. Still, with the sad state of public education over the last few decades, it is not hard to imagine young people failing to understand how the terms respect and decorum are related. However, this piece is not about your average Joe or Jane. It is about how people who should know better assume these words are meaningless in today’s world.

For instance, the television commercial inspiring this piece lacked both respect and decorum. On the surface, it was a cute little ad about hearing aids. Slightly below the surface, it was another attempt to normalize comments and language some might find inappropriate or embarrassing. At the same time, it is a statement about the human condition in the 21st century.

The ad in question is a family scene where a young couple is visiting the female’s parents. The couple is sitting several feet apart at the bar separating the kitchen from the living area. Mom is in the background, and dad is sitting in a lounge chair reading the paper.

Suddenly the young woman attempts to ask the young man a question without her parents hearing. She wants to know if he brought condoms. She whispers and mouths the question several times before the dad pipes up, “Condoms, Charlie, she wants to know if you brought condoms.” Charlie could not hear her, but dad, sitting much farther away, could. He had new hearing aids.

While the scene is humorous, it lacks respect for the potential audience. Also, it illustrates the total lack of taste and propriety when the opportunity to make a buck presents itself. It also seems to paint the young woman as an idiot or sex-obsessed bimbo. Why, at that moment, with her parents just feet away, would she question Charlie about condoms in a whisper?

The answer is simple. Anything is fair game in advertising, and advertisers think their target audience is mentally sophomoric. Either that or they are promoting audio voyeurism for a few hundred bucks an ear. Oh, yes! For the record, the decor of the home was quite nice.

*Apparently humans are not the only allegedly intelligent entities having trouble understanding the difference between decor and decorum. The screenshot to the right shows Google Search’s algorithms think decorum includes furnishings and Objet d’art. Okay, it got one right, the little blue square is an example of etiquette, the other three are examples of decor.

© oneoldcop – 2020

About S. Eric Jackson

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