The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.—William Wordsworth
Valentines Day has this bad habit of bringing out all the smarmy, cheesy, lovey-dovey ads about relationships that are too good to be real. Chances are, you started seeing them in mid-January and by now are ready to barf at the first sign of flowers, chocolate, or anything that sparkles. Ads for the holiday really ramp up the emotion in an effort to make you feel guilty if you don’t buy something expensive to show your love. Of course, you know that such a philosophy of love having a monetary value is faulty, but each year we buy into the concept more and more, so the ads just keep coming.
This year, Pandora (the jeweler, not the streaming music service) has a new ad that takes a slightly different approach. The concept is not so much that buying your spouse or significant other jewelry is an act of love as much as it is a plea for forgiveness. The general idea is a good one, given the number of guys who typically find themselves in hot water this time of year over some relationship gaffe.
The ad, directed by Martin Werner, is humorously set to music from Verdi’s opera, La Traviata, specifically the duet, Libiamo ne’lieti calici from the first act. The music is familiar, even to those who don’t know the opera. Giving the tenor reason to show off his vocal prowess is the whole reason for the song in the opera, and his first solo can be translated as follows:
Let’s drink, let’s drink from the joyous chalices
that beauty so truly enhances.
And may the brief moment be inebriated
Let’s drink for the ecstatic feeling
that love arouses.
Because this eye aims straight to the heart, omnipotently.
Let’s drink, my love, and the love among the chalices
will make the kisses warmer.
Don’t be fooled, while love is occasionally mentioned, this is a drinking song, which is why the chorus keeps joyfully joining in from time to time. The song is a lot of fun and a favorite among opera fans.
Pandora uses the song, however, as a way of covering up the arguments taking place in the ads. There are multiple scenarios, but they all come to one joint conclusions: guys infuriate women and need to beg for forgiveness by heaping large amounts of diamonds upon their loved ones. Take a look at the ad and then I’ll continue my comments.
Okay, so the ad is a bit tongue in cheek, and the different approach to Valentine’s Day is appreciated. I was fine right up until the moment it gets violent and the women start throwing things. Sure, in the ad none of the objects actually hit their target, but what if they had? Were those situations to take place in real life, the outcome would likely be severe enough that all the diamonds in the world couldn’t fix it.
Here’s the thing: domestic violence is a real problem. General statistics run like this:
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
However, one of the things those statistics hide, and which is often ignored, is that men are more likely to be the victims of violent domestic abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. A national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Justice shows that over 40% of victims of severe physical violence are men. The study also showed that men are more frequently, “the victim of psychological aggression and control over sexual or reproductive health.”
No matter how lightly it is treated, domestic violence is never funny and cannot be covered up by diamonds or candy or flowers. Depicting women violently throwing vases at men is just as wrong as if it were the other way around. Obviously, no one at Pandora thought of that tragedy. Men who are the victims of violent abuse don’t like to bring it up.
This is a very bad direction for an ad to take. While it’s too late to do anything about this ad now, I do hope the folks at Pandora show better sense in the future..