The inability to choose sides: a function of upbringing or time spent in Adland?
February 15, 2012
I have trouble choosing sides.
Democrat or Republican? Liberal or Conservative? Cubs or White Sox? I know with whom I am supposed to side with based on where and how I was brought up. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to fall in line. Frankly, it often makes it harder. I see the strength and weakness in opposing groups. I identify with both, for better and for worse.
For example: I want to help others (liberal) but I also want to help myself (conservative). I want to fight evil (conservative) but I don’t want to fight (liberal). When what is right is forced upon me it becomes wrong. When wrong is explained to me it becomes right. I veer from either political party not just cynically but because I see the virtue in both sides along with the hypocrisy. And there’s plenty to go around.
So, what’s a girl to do? On a personal level, I’d like to think I know right from wrong. But when I step outside myself and look at something from another person’s perspective I often alter my view. For better and for worse, I remain open minded.
Part of my problem –if it is a problem- is that I don’t belong to any one community, save for the human race. And even then I wonder (a joke people). My father is Jewish. My mother is Catholic. Neither practices either faith. My father was born on the south side of Chicago. Yet, we lived on the north side. And I lived with my mother, who is from Bordeaux, France. Not a lot of continuity there.
I grew up a tier or two below middle class. Now I reside a tier or two above it. I am from Chicago and I love this place. But I hate it, too. Chicago’s massive corruption and beauty are inextricably linked. This is a Democratic city and for the life of me I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Take our Mayor’s Daley. They were awesome and terrible at the same time. I would vote for them, partly knowing I shouldn’t. I feel the same way about our President.
Maybe my profession reveals answers. As a copywriter I am tasked with finding the virtue in everything: cereal, fast food, cigarettes, booze, cars, and corporations. Look at that list. Every category is controversial. But not when you’re writing copy. Spirits are authentic, smooth and mellow. Cars are sleek, fast and state-of-the-art. Corporations do so much good in the world! The company that spilled millions of tons of oil into the sea is helping millions of people get back with their lives. And so on…
The ranks of Adland may be filled with left-leaning hipsters but our creed is dogmatically right wing. Advertising flaunts capitalism. Advertising is capitalism. By definition. But then what are we who practice it? To write copy for a multi-conglomerate by day and support the Occupy movement at night (for example) is hypocritical. For me, it smacks of leading a double life. Like when Newt shrieks family values and bangs his assistant.
Choosing sides means accepting hypocrisy. I vote for Obama but I want Congress to veto his taxing and spending. I write copy for fast food but believe we are a nation that eats too much of it.
In the end, I am careful taking sides. I can only pray to do the next right thing, whether I know what that is or not.