I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I read a story online I’m always eager to get to the bottom of the page so that I can laugh or roll my eyes at the motley of comments left by readers.
May I say it is rather tantalising reading a controversial story because it guarantees an avalanche of fascinating and sometimes hilarious exchanges between readers.
Today I came across a story on yahoo about a controversial Benetton ad which showed the pope kissing Egyptian Imam, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb. The clothing company posted the doctored image briefly across Milan, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv and Rome but was forced to take them down after a protest from the Vatican.
The Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi called the ad an "unacceptable" manipulation of the Pope's likeness and said it offended the religious sentiments of the faithful.
The ad is part of a wider “Unhate” campaign by Benetton featuring world leaders from opposite sides of the religious and political divide kissing each other on the lips.
According to the clothing company, the campaign is aimed at encouraging global love and tolerance. But the Vatican clearly did not see things that way.
Most of the commentators on Yahoo slated the Vatican for overreacting.
One commentator wrote:
Taking the current Catholic churches reputation regarding child abuse and the complete denial by those upon high within their ranks and also the fact they try to cover these child abuse cases up. I think this advert is the least of their worries.
Lets put things in perspective!
so its ok to condone the rape and abuse of children and vulnerable adults ,but dont show a picture of this paedophile kissing another man wow,grow some balls benneton ,i wouldnt have pulled the add
There were few criticisms like these:
this ad isoffensive.
Benneton , they always use strange photos , The photographer is Italian , and they dont want the Pope , They only want Corruption which that photo proves , sick minded people love it , its about LOVE not SEX , to use the head of the Catholic Church in a most disgusting way is sad , they cant expect people to buy their clothes now , they are finished..
At the risk of sounding like a moralist, I’ll have to agree with the last commentator above. Maybe I’m missing something or just downright old-fashioned but how does two men locking lips translate to love and tolerance?
For me the mental images that love and tolerance evoke are ones like these:
Being a Christian, I was raised to believe that love is kind, patient, longsuffering, tolerant, forgiving and sacrificial. Love is going the extra mile for another person. Love is letting the other person win the argument even when you’re right. It’s about accommodating other peoples’ weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.
When I saw the fake image of the pope kissing an imam, my first thought was ‘yuk’. That does not look tasteful on any account. Even if it were two women or a man and a woman I fail to see the connection with love and tolerance.
What worries me most is the thought that many children will be feasting on lustful, dissipated images like this in the name of advertisement. It’s just insane that adverts are no longer about selling a product on its own merits but rather about pushing the moral boundaries to the limit. So we when we see ads for perfume, hair products and even food, we’re not told much about the merits of the product. But we do get any eyeful of sensual indulgence by often scantily-clothed models. Unfortunately the ‘sex sells’ mindset has permeated into the cultural fabric of many Western countries. So we have artists like Rihanna and Lady Gaga striving to take the racy/eccentric stakes a notch higher with every subsequent video they release.
But a salient question is, what lessons do the younger generation take away? What moral blueprints are we leaving them? When it's cool to talk down religion and high moral values; when we subscribe to a ‘postmodernist’ way of thinking where there are no boundaries. Nothing is right or wrong. Each man is a god to himself. What are we saying to the younger generation?
Of course, individuals have the prerogative of choosing whatever ideology suits them – be it religion, morality or atheism. However we must bear in mind the 'seeds' we sow in children/young peoples' minds will determine how they will turn out tomorrow. Using computer terminology, it is a case of garbage in - garbage out. Somewhere along the line this madness has to stop.