By André Schutten
I was scrolling through the news on our publicly funded CBC website the other day and, when I clicked on one video for a story, I had to first watch a 15 second advertisement (this one funded by the government of Ontario). The ad may seem tame enough to the average viewer, but it was shocking to me and left me with many different questions and thoughts. Check it out here:
A few thoughts swimming through my head after watching the ad:
- What in the world is a cash-strapped province doing advertising birth control? How much did they spend on creating and on airing this ad?
- Why advertise one choice over another when it comes to having children? Why sell (which is what ads do) childlessness over having and nurturing children? (I’m not saying the government needs to do the latter, just questioning why they chose to do the former at the expense of the latter.)
- Connected with selling childlessness, the attitude toward children in this ad is pretty deplorable. I can’t imagine anyone with children or hoping for children even dreaming up such an ad. Take it from a guy who, with my wife, desires to have more kids: this ad is pretty offensive. It plays to a terribly self-centered attitude of being able to mindlessly scroll your phone and sip your latte without a care in the world, and certainly without what this ad portrays as the annoyance and hassle of kids.
- Not only is Ontario broke, its fertility rate is terribly low, well below the replacement level of 2.1 children per couple. The social and economic costs of this demographic trend are severe. It appears that the current government is either blind to these costs or willing to promote the trend despite the costs.
- My colleague suggested I leave this one alone, but I do wonder: why did they choose to feature a red-haired child? This minority happens to suffer much higher rates of bullying than other kids. The casting of a ginger child struck me as an intentional choice to emphasize the point of the ad, which is: “You don’t want one of these!”
The message of the ad is pretty obvious: “Isn’t life gonna suck with a kid? Make sure you get your birth control!” Basically the opposite of, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127).
I find the ad tasteless, a waste of money, displaying terrible moral judgment, and well outside the role of government. I hope we don’t see any more of these ads. If you agree, maybe send your Ontario MPP a respectful note.