Sign of the times
By Jackie Morfesis
I vividly remember using foul language in front of my parents as a youth. It may go without saying, but it was the first and last time I repeated words I had heard that were, as my mother said, “ugly.” Yet today, the bar for what is ugly has been so moved, that there is literally no distinction between what is considered foul and what is considered normal.
I thought that I was shocked (though we are beyond being shocked anymore) by an oversized Christmas card that was blatantly displayed in the most charming and quaint boutique on Pitt Street in the Old Village a few years ago featuring the worst foul language in conjunction with wishing a “Merry Christmas.”
Thinking that merchandise emblazoned this way for profit was bad enough, I was once again taken aback by two television commercials recently airing sponsored by Walgreens pharmacy. In both commercials, a woman is frustrated wrapping Christmas gifts and says a foul sentence in each commercial, stopping short of a curse word in each, which is clearly enunciated by the first letter. Then a voice over chimes in: “Let’s wrap this up, season.”
So, how is it possible that we are sideswiped by seemingly family-friendly stores and companies getting away with “ugly”? Because ugly sells. It would not be displayed on a shelf or used in a commercial if it was not profitable. And the only way to show that ugly is ugly is to contact the stores and the companies and let them know they have lost a valued customer. I did. I called customer service and media relations of Walgreens drug store. I let them know that I did not appreciate my Christian holiday being coupled with profanity. I also let them know I switched my pharmacy from Walgreens to one that didn’t air profanity on the holidays — or any day for that matter. By the way, they mentioned I was not the only one who has complained. Numbers matter.
Am I being overreactive? Should I just sit back and go with the flow? I do go with the flow — when the flow is respectful. And when it's not, as consumers we need to be heard, and the businesses and companies hear us best when it impacts their bottom line.
Sadly, this is a sign of the times. On the airwaves, in print, on the shelves, in lyrics, wafting through the ethers. The energy and vibration of ugly in the guise of free speech and creative expression. But in truth, it is nothing more than an excuse and celebration of a culture of ugliness when we can easily choose beauty, kindness and respect. Our choice. Every time.
Jackie Morfesis is a creative, advocate and author. She holds a BFA in fine arts and an MA in liberal studies and is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Greece. She is a Greek Orthodox Christian with an ecumenical spirit.