I’m not one of those people who pays attention to the Super Bowl commercials, but someone told me about the Scientology commercial that aired during the game and I went on Youtube to see it. It was very slickly produced, well thought out and mind-numbingly stupid.
A few things jump out at me, the most obvious of which is how the commercial is designed to play into how everyone likes to view themselves. Everyone, even the dullest among us, likes to think of themselves as “curious” and “inquisitive.” Even those whose most difficult reading is a Penthouse Forum or the graffiti on bar bathroom stall perceive themselves to be “seekers of knowledge.” No matter how much someone goes through life without ever encountering, much less generating, an original thought, they consider themselves a “freethinker.” No matter how safely they stay within the boundaries of polite society, in their eyes they are undoubtedly a “non-confirmist” — even if their greatest act of non-conformity is putting one of those window stickers showing Calvin peeing on something they dislike, like Chevy or a rival college or Democrats, on their pickup truck. Even the lowest wage-slave likes to think of themselves as “powerful beyond measure.”
As HL Mencken wrote long ago:
No man could bring himself to reveal his true character, and, above all, his true limitations as a citizen and a Christian, his true meannesses, his true imbecilities, to his friends, or even to his wife. Honest autobiography is therefore a contradiction in terms: the moment a man considers himself, even in petto, he tries to gild and fresco himself.
It’s smart marketing, built upon a century of techniques that sell products on the basis of exploiting our insecurities and thus our fervent desire to project an image that we have none. Like all those Mountain Dew commercials about how “extreme” you are if you drink it, because in America we like our “rebellion” to be prepackaged and carrying a corporate logo.
The other thing, obviously, is that utterly moronic conclusion: “The only thing that’s true is what’s true for you.” Bullshit. Scientology is false. It’s not only false, it’s a complete and utter fraud, designed to separate the credulous from their money with great efficiency. And that is true no matter how many slickly produced commercials then spend millions of dollars to air.