Monday, August 6, 2012

Liberty Mutual Insurance promotes cultural bias to keep fathers from having custody of children

One thing I abhor is watching television but the content of a documentary program on National Geographic channel was too much to resist. So, while doing some on-line research the program played. Then came the onslaught of what drives me to great disdain -- the commercials.

During my break from a steady stream of reading research papers and absorbing the documentary chatter I kick back stare at the ceiling and inattentively hear the commercials. The narrative of one stands out -- explaining the need to compensate for stupidity. It's much like the commercials that run throughout the night promoting products for people too stupid to function without them. But this time it wasn't a kitchen implement, cleaning product, closet organizer, mounting systems or some type of hands free device. Instead the product being promoted was insurance.

The particular commercial I viewed is titled "savings" and begins by showing a woman inattentively opening her door into traffic and it getting knocked off. As someone who is an urban cyclist I am very aware of this type of incident. This is followed by a man who is distracted by an outdoor print media displaying a woman which then leads him to driving off the road. Next is a series of incidents showing men as being bumbling, incompetent buffoons. A man takes food off the grill and walks into a closed full face glass sliding door; a man puts a foot through the ceiling while in the attic; men bombard a car with golf balls at a driving range; a man drives a car into a garage resulting in the bicycles and rack on top being knocked off; and finally, a man and his daughter stare in disappointment at what appears to be a shabbily built playhouse that has been destroyed by a fallen tree which has also damaged the home.

Without any marketing or psychology background you may view this as a rather comical representation of a few of life's disastrous interludes. That is precisely the objective when constructing an emotionally reflexive visual presentation such as this. It is designed to indirectly implant a feeling and then a call to action.

In this case the feeling is insecurity and the call to action is to get the consumer to purchase insurance products to alleviate that natural desire to quell the sense of insecurity. The secondary, and perhaps dangerous, emotive action is to convey that men are bumbling, incompetent buffoons. This is done by the careful arrangement of the situations in the commercial. It begins with a female causing the first incident, then being a contributor [closing the sliding door] to the second incident, followed by a series of male induced incidents then closing with a natural disaster. This specific order of placement follows the known human memory processing effect where the trailing or closing ideas are implanted better than the opening.

The net result is that if viewers are asked to give a portrayal of their perception about the people in these incidents it will be that men are seen as being bumbling buffoons who are surrounded by disaster. What is missed is the most significant portrayal in this commercial, which I can attest to from real life observation, which is that women would be the primary gender to cause a life threatening incident -- opening a car door into the path of a cyclist or other vehicles.

If you are a regular reader then you may recall that my father had a life-long career in marketing and advertising. I also assisted in that and my first corporation I developed was Paramount Marketing -- a direct sale retailer for manufacturers. Through my experience based marketing knowledge I am aware of what is known as "social engineering" where media is used to indirectly guide social policy. There exist and has been for a longtime an agenda to denigrate the male of our specie.

This social engineering is more prominently presented when surrounding the food industry where children have disdain for healthful food, whole food preparation is presented as difficult and time consuming, healthful individuals are portrayed as extremist kooks and those who call fat people out for what they are -- out-of-control, over-indulgent people with untreated emotional issues -- get branded as the equivalent of a racial bigot. All of this is done to perpetuate over-consumption of highly processed unhealthy so-called foods. To take your money in an effort to cause you to be unhealthy.

This is how the inter-connectivity between unrelated industries is established. The food processor has nothing to do with the medical or auto industries who don't sell their products or services at Wal-Mart [although I do expect to see surgery while your spouse shops coming soon]. The connection is that the unhealthy foods lead to more use of automobiles and greater reliance on pill form treatments from the medical community which can be picked up from the Wal-Mart pharmacy -- all of which advertise. So you can see how the advertising industry is manipulating you into over-consumption.

You may say that it is not all a consumption agenda as there are messages produced to promote conservation and recycling. But scrutinize the recycling advertisement [known as a public service announcement -- PSA] for the hidden agenda. The PSA will show a mother loading the bags of plastics and other recyclables into the minivan -- which happens to be a newer model with all the bells and whistles. The children, fully accessorized with electronic gadgets, then get in. While en route to the mall the mother takes them to the drive-thru at a child-based fast-food eatery [promoting sickness]. They then drop off the recyclables at the collection point in the mall parking lot and the children toss their plastic drink cups into the recycling can by the entrance to the small. Everything in that message screams buy, buy, buy -- Then recycle the remnants of your over-consumption.

So where does that all come into play in child custody proceedings?

In Indiana child custody decisions must be based upon "the best interest of the child standard" as that relates to, at a minimum, the eight statutory factors. Although it used to be standard policy that mothers were presumptively awarded custody -- based largely upon a dis-proven tender-years doctrine -- no longer is that the case. Yet, children are still being denied significant relationships with their fathers at a vastly disproportionate rate.

Ultimately placement of a child is based upon human interactions and decisions. These include the inherent biases as well as blatant prejudices of the parties involved -- litigants, attorneys, MHPs, and judges. Nearly all of these people can be affected by media impact. Commercials such as those promoted by Liberty Mutual Insurance provide the material for basing or reinforcing biases about fathers. These are negatives and directly related to parenting.

The clumsy person, the inattentive person, the careless person and the incompetent person does not possess the attributes that are generally accepted as in the best interest of the child. Will the small child wander off or drown in the family pool because dad can't take his eyes off the scantily clad women on a tv show? Does this guy who walks into a door or steps through the ceiling going to be able to protect a child from the potential dangers from the natural topography on a hiking trail? Do he and his buddies get together and recklessly launch projectiles resulting in significant damage to the family vehicle? Does he operate a vehicle unaware of his surroundings or the dimensions of the vehicle? Would he back over the child in the driveway? Finally, is he just going to be surrounded by disaster and is that a safe environment for the children?

So here is the net result in the subconscious minds of most viewers. All-in-all men are a danger to children and although I can't pinpoint an exact reason I just have that feeling and unless I am shown clear evidence that mom is dangerous or neglectful I would feel better if they were with her.

This is not an indictment of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company for their deliberate effort to campaign against children's right of access to both parents. Quite to the contrary, this is an enlightenment of the cultural status quo that has allowed this insurance provider's wholesome agenda [emotional security] to be hijacked by an industry whose nefarious plan is to perpetuate consumer consumption even at the expense of those consumers or childhood well-being.

An owner of an Indianapolis based advertising agency summed it up quite succinctly 30 years ago when doing a promotion for a large bank. He angrily exclaimed while working on a credit card campaign, "I hate it that we have to target the very people who can't afford this." But such is the essence of marketing -- tailoring the message to play upon the ignorance of the targeted demographic.

I am able to discern the underlying realities that exist in the world but I am part of the 1% that has the ability to do this and see life in the big picture. It is not a failure to educate or a flaw in brain structuring that prevents most others from possessing this ability. Rather, this ability is a genetic predisposition that can be triggered through environmental stimulation. For the others, it is not a lost cause. Learning to shed the scripts that restrict this type of reasoning and adapting analytical techniques will allow anyone to comprehend the bigger picture.

When engaged in a child custody proceeding it is necessary that you, your attorney and the judge see the bigger picture or the result will be to the detriment of your child. It is in your charge to ensure that this happens.

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©2008, 2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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