He might get us, but I sure don't
The Super Bowl is by far the largest stage for the American public, and the selection of advertisements shown on is iconic. Who can forget the “puppymonkeybaby”? Or… uh…
Yeah, the Super Bowl ads have gotten a little bit boring recently. It’s hard to differentiate them from your run of the mill cable TV ad. Oh, it’s boner pills. Oh look, insurance. Hell yeah, I love AARP commercials! I never knew how badly I wanted to take drugs, I mean, experimental medication, until this year. It’s nothing exciting, but you know what, it’s mostly harmless. I can’t find anything to hate, plus, they give me a chance to complain about the sports I’m watching on Instagram.
That was, until this year. While there have are always controversial takes in the Super Bowl advertisement, especially with the disaster that is the whitewashing of the friendly fire incident that killed Patrick Tillman, this was… different.
He Gets Us is a Christian group that has sprung up recently. They’ve pushed a $100 million — yes, 100 million — across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, all culminating in a 20 million dollar ad purchase for the Super Bowl.
It is insane to me that there was someone bankrolling that much money for what is honestly, fairly bland Christian messaging. It’s incredibly mild, with a half-hearted attempt to spread “hate the sin not the sinner” (I guess this is their call not to hate crime LGBTQ people?), “love your enemy” (see previous), and “Jesus was an immigrant” (bonus points if you figure out who that’s targeting.) It’s presented as something that’s supposed to be unifying, but as anyone who’s in any of these communities can tell you, these ads don’t actually display anything meaningful. It’s the bare minimum lip service many churches give in order to make their service more palatable to the youths. It’s become hard to promote the same things that had been a mainstay for the church in the past, and in recent years, this has, anecdotally, been the way churches reach out.
The second problem is that the people who were bankrolling this are the same people who are pushing millions into anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ campaigns. Are you surprised? Millions pushed into pushing Christianity during the Super Bowl, with even more millions spent in pushing genuinely harmful and terrible messaging. It’s another step in the televangelical movement that put millions into religious messaging.
What’s funny is that, in an attempt to make their position more palatable to left-leaning people, the He Gets Us campaign only pissed off conservatives. Even the milquetoast defense of immigration was lambasted by conservative commentators, and the money spent is a common criticism from religious people. It seems to have been a failure of a campaign, though I doubt we’re going to get the full picture for a while. From what we have now, it seems pretty clear-cut. A group, or groups, with money to burn on hurting marginalized communities burned it to try to make themselves look more palatable.