The MTV Video Awards aired recently. I didn’t watch them, but author and youth culture expert Walt Mueller did, and in his summarizing thoughts on the show, he mentioned a new ad for Gucci Guilty, a women’s fragrance I hadn’t heard of, let alone smelled.
The commercial depicts a daring, take-charge woman driving a futuristic sports car and fantasizing about having sex with a man she’s just seen in a bar. While the sex is a daydream, the depiction looks very real. Mostly in shadow, the two undress each other, kiss passionately and engage in sexual positions—all for the camera, which stops just short of nudity. Mueller says in his commentary:
Ponder the [fragrance's] name… ponder the commercial's message. This is one worth talking about. If you decide to talk about it and are accused of being prudish, well, then talking about it was something that needed to happen. Our culture, for the most part, doesn't think twice about this kind of stuff. It's status quo.
He’s right. The world no longer bats an eye at sex on TV—or in movies, magazines or commercials and anything else that’s broadcast, transmitted or published. It wouldn’t surprise me if, somewhere out there, baking soda has been ramped up to be a sexy product.
Today we use the words “ethics” and “morality” synonymously, but historically they’re really different animals—and it’s crucial to understand that. In confusing ethics (from the Greek word “ethos,” which refers to standards, laws, normative rules and what people ought be doing) with morality (from the Greek word “mores” which describes what people in a culture are doing, whether biblical or unbiblical), our culture has eroded standards into behavior and “justified” a morality devoid of ethics. One result? Sexualizing virtually everything is now our new morality.
Gucci Guilty is a good example. And the more our kids digest and adopt this worldview, the more we need to clarify truth. Even when a woman’s fragrance prompts awkward pauses and uncomfortable conversation.