My Least Favorite Super Bowl Commercial

by michaelrdrane

It was fun to get to sit around with my family in Pittsburgh, watching the Super Bowl, and see images of the city I’ve called home for the past year and a half fly by on the screen. I’m referring to Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” Super Bowl spot.  I could point out places I’ve visited and even a church where our youth group gathers every Friday night. Once I paid attention to the message, however, I felt that old familiar feeling. Detroit exceptionalism, rooted in the past, the struggle, and the bad-ass mindset.

To be fair, I don’t want to completely disregard the message as a whole. There’s something to be said for persevering through trial. It’s good to celebrate hard work. My issue is with the conclusion and the messenger.

It should come as no surprise that a commercial by an automaker has propagated this image of Detroit as gruff and having a future that is linked to its destructive, industrial past. After all, who is better acquainted with Detroit’s downfall than the auto industry? I won’t lay all of the blame on their laps -after all, there are still mismanaged unions, blatant racism, and macro trends in the American economy to add to the equation- but the big three have been major players in the trials of this town. Many visionaries in Detroit can see a brighter future, freed from dependence on these tyrants of the past, but you don’t see Chrysler jumping on that bandwagon. It wouldn’t make much sense to spend big bucks on a Super Bowl spot to spread the news of their obsolescence.

What’s worse, in their attempt to pimp out the city, Chrysler slipped up on their research and gave some air time to one of their greatest critics. At about 34 seconds into the commercial, scenes are shown of a Diego Rivera mural that is located in the Detroit Institute of Art. The mural is actually a statement against the oppression of the auto industry. At the time, the industry actually wanted to destroy the work. Read more and see pictures here and here.

This is further evidence that Chrysler doesn’t really care about the city of Detroit or the people of Detroit. They care about making money. They care about trying to convince you that buying a Chrysler somehow makes you tough and a better American. They care about keeping Detroit in their stranglehold while they struggle to stay afloat (in their headquarters far, far outside of the city).

The good news is there are people who want to move forward (and it’s not Eminem…). The commercial’s right: you won’t read about them or hear about them in the news. They’re here though and they don’t need you to buy a Chrysler to keep their dreams alive.

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