Many people confuse fiction with reality. Soap opera stars, for example, complain about being harassed at grocery stores for things their characters have done, as if viewers can't distinguish between an evil stepmother on daytime television and a woman squeezing grapefruit in the produce aisle.
In Australia, a letter to multiple newspaper editors complained that a soap opera star shouldn't appear on the cover of TV Week so soon after the death of his wife in the series, The Sullivans.
Periodically, this kind of problem enters the public arena. In his highly publicised critique of single mom Murphy Brown, former US vice-president Dan Quayle seemed to forget that Brown was a completely fictional character. Not to be left out, Quayle's boss, George H.W. Bush, famously said that "America should be more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons", neatly overlooking the fact that both families were completely artificial concoctions whipped up by the entertainment industry.
Now, a group of US women collectively called One Million Moms have launched a campaign against insurance giant Geico, alleging that the company's "new commercial plays with the idea of bestiality". Geico always uses animals in its ads, but this one has the group outraged.
LET'S GET IT OINK
In the ad embedded above, Geico mascot Maxwell the Pig finds himself stranded at a scenic overlook with a female companion. She clearly wants to get some of her lipstick on that pig, but he's more interested in reporting his car's breakdown on the Geicosmartphone app.
Is it hilarious? No, but it's lighthearted, like a short, unfinished romantic comedy. It shouldn't be taken any more seriously than the Kermit/Miss Piggy romance on The Muppet Show or Captain Kirk's interspecies dalliances on Star Trek. How anyone could miss that is beyond us -- unless of course One Million Moms is staffed by Vulcans with only the dimmest understanding of humour.
That said, if folks are going to take this commercial so literally, there's plenty to complain about. Frankly, we're a little appalled that One Million Moms missed this stuff:
1. There's a pig driving a car. That's probably illegal in most states, and yet Maxwell's ladyfriend seems unperturbed. (The same goes for the trooper in a different Geicoclip.)
2. That pig is naked. Which is potentially illegal.
3. Since he's in the buff, Maxwell's probably not wearing shoes on his wee cloven feet. There aren't any state or local laws that forbid anyone from driving barefoot, but most people frown upon it. And if there's one thing that One Million Moms knows how to do, it's frown.
4. This pig can talk. Which means there's a good chance that he's the product of a previous -- and consummated -- human/swine coupling. If so, Maxwell's just a product of his environment. One Million Moms should instead focus its anger on Maxwell's mom and dad.
5. This pig can navigate a touch screen. We sometimes have trouble doing that with our comparatively thin fingers. And yet the folks at Geico want us to believe that Maxwell can type and play games with his hooves? Preposterous.
6. The car is smoking, but Maxwell hasn't bothered to turn it off. That seems unsafe. Or at least unwise, no?
On the upside, the unnamed woman never touches Maxwell, which is good, because that's kind of a no-no in the book of Leviticus, which One Million Moms probably follows to the T. Except maybe the part about poly-cotton blends.
And in retrospect, the commercial could've been much, much worse. Maxwell could've been stranded with the Geico Gecko (or perhaps Gordon Gekko), which would've promoted same-sex interspecies relationships and might've caused a rip in the fabric of advertising space-time. We should thank our lucky stars.