German Engineering Meets the Thought Police.

I remember sitting placidly in my living room watching the TV when I first saw the Volkswagen commercial; little did I know it would become another victim on the long list of untimely casualties of political correctness. I should have known it was only a matter of time before the Zeitgeist's sensitivity meters would detect it and target it for extermination.
The spot opens with a clearly despondent man standing on the ledge of a building cataloging his disappointments with life as the reasons why he finally wants to end it all. The apprehensive crowd on the street gathers to watch as the man pours his heart out. Suddenly a driver in a new Volkswagen zooms by, belting out the affordable price of his new purchase.

The dejected man looks down, comes to his senses, and gingerly steps back from the ledge as he reassures the bewildered onlookers that he has changed his mind after all.

I thought it was worth a chuckle; and I would not consider myself a person who is insensitive to the plight of those unfortunate souls who choose to voluntarily exit this world each year.

That is why I rolled my eyes when I heard that several suicide prevention groups had protested against the spot, shaming Volkswagen officials into pulling it off their advertising campaign and issue a studied apology. One of the aggrieved organizations expressed concerns that in airing the spot Volkswagen's had "trivialized a very significant health problem".

The reason I chuckled was not because I find suicide to be an intrinsically humorous subject; it was because I think it is a fundamentally misguided decision.

The genius of the commercial was in its ability to convey how a relatively trivial concern, such as being able to afford a vehicle, eventually dissuades a disconsolate man from making a rather momentous decision. In fact the man reorganizes his whole life's outlook on the premise that there are indeed some things worth living for, while readily forsaking less tangible commodities such as the preeminent import of his very existence.

The object which prompts this sudden epiphany is none other than a brand new car; forget any allusions to the intrinsic dignity and sanctity of life; a two door sedan always trumps the more abstract incentives to embrace a purpose for living.

In the world that fiction often seeks to emulate, most people do commit suicide for issues which are ultimately of lesser significance than their very lives. Some attempt suicide because of a loss, whether financial or relational. These losses are often magnified by a preexisting lack of self worth in the person who wants to commit suicide. When examined carefully they can be seen for the trifling matters they really are in the larger scheme of things. Thus suicide is fundamentally not only the wrong decision but the reasons for which most people commit suicide are infinitesimally worthless when objectively placed in the context of the bigger picture.

What makes the commercial so funny is that it unmasks the common motivating factors for suicide as the utterly inconsequential matters they really are.

Contrary to what the suicide prevention groups alleged, the commercial did not trivialize the subject of suicide, but rather the reasons that profess to vouch for the value of a human life. These reasons should be lampooned, because in the end they reinforce the falsehood that human life, absent material possessions, is of very little worth.

The man did not jump after all, but reconsidered the consequences of his choice. The people watching him were not happy at the prospect of a man jumping off a building and were themselves distraught at the notion that the man considered suicide as a rational alternative. The message of the commercial lay not in the presumed mockery of the man's choice but in the casual interim between the initial rationale behind it and the following considerations which led him to see the error of his ways; the viewer finds humor in the inherent banality of the man's fleeting resolve for either choice.

If anyone should be offended by this commercial it is the pro-life advocates, because the commercial in essence trivialized not the act of suicide but the sanctity of life by depicting its value as based in our possessions rather any loftier moral considerations such as its sanctity or the intrinsic worth of every human being in the eyes of the creator; that alone should be sufficient enough reason to eschew suicide as a rational way out of one's problems.

Leave it to the politically correct monitoring services to spoil the fun for the rest of us.
I remember sitting placidly in my living room watching the TV when I first saw the Volkswagen commercial; little did I know it would become another victim on the long list of untimely casualties of political correctness. I should have known it was only a matter of time before the Zeitgeist's sensitivity meters would detect it and target it for extermination.
The spot opens with a clearly despondent man standing on the ledge of a building cataloging his disappointments with life as the reasons why he finally wants to end it all. The apprehensive crowd on the street gathers to watch as the man pours his heart out. Suddenly a driver in a new Volkswagen zooms by, belting out the affordable price of his new purchase.

The dejected man looks down, comes to his senses, and gingerly steps back from the ledge as he reassures the bewildered onlookers that he has changed his mind after all.

I thought it was worth a chuckle; and I would not consider myself a person who is insensitive to the plight of those unfortunate souls who choose to voluntarily exit this world each year.

That is why I rolled my eyes when I heard that several suicide prevention groups had protested against the spot, shaming Volkswagen officials into pulling it off their advertising campaign and issue a studied apology. One of the aggrieved organizations expressed concerns that in airing the spot Volkswagen's had "trivialized a very significant health problem".

The reason I chuckled was not because I find suicide to be an intrinsically humorous subject; it was because I think it is a fundamentally misguided decision.

The genius of the commercial was in its ability to convey how a relatively trivial concern, such as being able to afford a vehicle, eventually dissuades a disconsolate man from making a rather momentous decision. In fact the man reorganizes his whole life's outlook on the premise that there are indeed some things worth living for, while readily forsaking less tangible commodities such as the preeminent import of his very existence.

The object which prompts this sudden epiphany is none other than a brand new car; forget any allusions to the intrinsic dignity and sanctity of life; a two door sedan always trumps the more abstract incentives to embrace a purpose for living.

In the world that fiction often seeks to emulate, most people do commit suicide for issues which are ultimately of lesser significance than their very lives. Some attempt suicide because of a loss, whether financial or relational. These losses are often magnified by a preexisting lack of self worth in the person who wants to commit suicide. When examined carefully they can be seen for the trifling matters they really are in the larger scheme of things. Thus suicide is fundamentally not only the wrong decision but the reasons for which most people commit suicide are infinitesimally worthless when objectively placed in the context of the bigger picture.

What makes the commercial so funny is that it unmasks the common motivating factors for suicide as the utterly inconsequential matters they really are.

Contrary to what the suicide prevention groups alleged, the commercial did not trivialize the subject of suicide, but rather the reasons that profess to vouch for the value of a human life. These reasons should be lampooned, because in the end they reinforce the falsehood that human life, absent material possessions, is of very little worth.

The man did not jump after all, but reconsidered the consequences of his choice. The people watching him were not happy at the prospect of a man jumping off a building and were themselves distraught at the notion that the man considered suicide as a rational alternative. The message of the commercial lay not in the presumed mockery of the man's choice but in the casual interim between the initial rationale behind it and the following considerations which led him to see the error of his ways; the viewer finds humor in the inherent banality of the man's fleeting resolve for either choice.

If anyone should be offended by this commercial it is the pro-life advocates, because the commercial in essence trivialized not the act of suicide but the sanctity of life by depicting its value as based in our possessions rather any loftier moral considerations such as its sanctity or the intrinsic worth of every human being in the eyes of the creator; that alone should be sufficient enough reason to eschew suicide as a rational way out of one's problems.

Leave it to the politically correct monitoring services to spoil the fun for the rest of us.