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Saying 'Stop Overthinking, It's Just A Commercial' Is Dangerous

This is a follow-up piece to 'The Dark Side Of Jollibee's Valentine's Video 'Vow.''
PHOTO: YouTube/Jollibee Philippines

A few days ago, I wrote an article about how Jollibee’s "Vow" video wasn’t a romantic gesture at all, but actually a toxic relationship.

Needless to say, reactions to the piece varied. A lot of folks thought it was on point, and others thought it was a load of bull, both of which are totally fine because these people took time out to explain (even just to themselves) why they agreed or disagreed with the point the article made.

What was most bothersome were the people who said, “Stop overthinking. It’s just a commercial.”

Because, really, it’s not.

It’s little things like commercials and TV shows and even radio skits that can add up to what becomes the way everyone thinks.

For example, I grew up watching a lot of Pinoy sketch comedies, and I have, more than once, been shocked by how casually rape jokes get thrown around. I even heard a rape joke as part of a radio station’s interstitial ad. We’ve also had celebrities and politicians make rape jokes which, thankfully, aren’t considered funny anymore. (That they were once considered funny is a scary thought.)

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We all know that rape is bad, but if we see and hear a lot of people make fun of it and act like it isn’t a big deal, then more and more people will begin to act and think like maybe it really isn’t a big deal, which, as we know, would be bad for everyone.

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It’s exactly the "little" things like jokes and commercials that matter the most. Because people think they’re so insignificant, no one notices when they start burrowing into your mind, influencing the way you think.

It’s rather like eating a tiny piece of meat with a tapeworm egg in it. It’s just a tiny piece of meat, right? And it’s only just one tapeworm egg, right? It won't make a difference. So you don’t pay attention to it. You go about your daily business. You ignore the symptoms that come with tapeworm infestation (although you do love how skinny you suddenly are, even though your grocery bill has doubled!). And then one day you get rushed to the hospital and the doctor has to pull a six-foot long tapeworm from inside your body. That tiny piece of meat with that one tapeworm egg doesn’t seem so inconsequential now, does it?

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It’s the same with what we see in media. A commercial like Jollibee's "Vow," made to look cute and to tug at our heartstrings, also normalizes toxic behavior. It romanticizes the martyr mentality, turning people like Jollibesh into heroes for not moving on from loving a woman who doesn’t love him back. Yes, it taps into our national hugot, but it also praises emotional instability because, you know, it’s romantic.

If we keep thinking of such things as "just a commercial" that "shouldn't be overthought," we shouldn't complain when our best friend can't seem to move on from the girl (or guy) he's had a crush on since freshman year of college five years ago and who he (or she) still stalks via social media (We all have one. Some of us have even been that one).

While the way we live shapes media, the opposite is also true: media shapes the way we live.

A person could watch the commercial, see everyone oohing and aahing over it, and think being a martyr for love is a good thing, or that love should be transactional—that if he's nice enough to the girl he likes she should like him back and she's an awful person if she doesn’t but that’s okay because he loves her too much to think that, anyway.

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It’s also kind of like how kids follow what their parents do more than what their parents say.

People of a certain age may remember a bunch of TV commercials from Nestle that showed parents telling their kids not to do things, like lie, for example, then turning around and doing it themselves (I can’t seem to find them on YouTube). May of us have experienced this firsthand from our own parents, too. I certainly have (Sorry, Mom!). And with media around us so much, whether we like it or not, it will begin to influence the way we act.

I’m not saying that you should agree with everything you read or everything you watch—that would be wrong. I’m saying that we should move beyond refusing to think about the larger implications of so-called insignificant things.

I'm going to cite a corny but true example here by pointing out that even the biggest tree started out as a tiny seed, in the same way that a six foot-long tapeworm started out as a tiny, microscopic, easily swallowable egg.

If you like or don’t like an article or a commercial or a show, or anything, for that matter, explain why. Unfortunately, saying, "ah basta," or "nosebleed" or "overthinking" does not count.

The beauty of the internet is that it gives everyone the opportunity to state their opinion, and it would be sad if you wasted the opportunity to state yours by hiding behind one-word dismissals.

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Ian Carandang, one of the people interviewed in the previous article, for example, is not afraid to state is opinions and back them up with concrete arguments. Here’s what he thinks of people who don't: "I love how when someone cannot address a single one if your points—it's an analysis and therefore open to discussion by the very nature of it—the go-to move now of nimrods is to accuse you of "overthinking," which is really funny to me because when you do that you're basically admitting that thinking hurts your brain."

Do you think he has a point? Do you think I have a point? Let us know, preferably in more than one word.

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