Rant No. 1

Although this is a happiness blog, I find it therapeutic to voice my concerns about modern life here, so that the unhappiness I feel will not fester into something more permanent.  If I say it out loud at least I’ve given a voice to my opinions- whether the world cares or not is largely immaterial.   

Rant on. 

Every 30 minutes this commercial comes on the TV hawking cars from Kia.  At first, I just kinda let it go and didn’t pay it any attention.  Then I started thinking about it.  The more I thought about it, the more offensive I realized it was.

One of my stranger traits is that I take offense at things most people wouldn’t even notice, and seem not to care about things that most people would be upset over.  If someone took $10 from me and ran away, I’d probably just laugh.  However, this commercial (of all things) strikes a nerve.

Why does it bother me?  Because it uses the image of a former President merely to hawk cars, that’s why.  To make it even worse, it turns a bust of that President into a soap-on-a-rope, which is incredibly offensive.  Imagine replacing Filmore’s bust with either McCain’s, Clinton’s, or Obama’s.  Chaos would ensue.  But because it’s making fun of a President that’s been dead for awhile, Kia just assumes no one would care.

Here’s the truth about Millard Filmore, for those who care.  He was the 13th President.  He was born in a log cabin- the second of nine children.  He was originally an indentured servant- an apprentice in the cloth-making trade.  He also served in the New York militia.  In 1823 (at the age of 23) he was admitted into the New York State Bar.  After working as a lawyer for over 10 years, he entered into a law partnership with Nathan K. Hall.  It would slowly become one of the most prestigious law firms in New York State.  In 1846, he founded what is now the University of New York at Buffalo, the largest university in the state’s system…

That’s just his personal life.  He served as a U.S. Congressman for 4 terms.  Later, as the New York state comptroller, he overhauled the state’s banking system and made it a model for the National Banking System.  He was chosen as Vice-President largely because political strategists thought his “self-made” history would complement the military background of Zachary Taylor.  He presided over the Senate as it debated the Compromise of 1850. 

When President Taylor died unexpectedly in office, Filmore stepped in and abruptly replaced the entire cabinet with individuals more supportive of the Compromise of 1850.  It was his support of this measure and his repackaging of the legislation that made the Compromise possible.  (Arguably, this legislation only delayed the inevitable Civil War that was brewing, but several historians have suggested that had the Civil War been fought sooner, the North and South would have been more equal in terms of population and industrial capacity, perhaps changing the outcome.  Time truly was on the North’s side, even in 1850.)  Finally, he sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to Japan, opening up the market to Western Trade.  He also founded the White House Library.

In later years, he served as Chancellor of the University of Buffalo.  He also was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford.  He humbly turned the honor down, saying simply that he did not have the “literary or scientific attainment” to hold such a degree.

Thus, I value President Filmore’s contribution to our society much more so than Kia Motors.  I find it extremely distasteful that Kia would choose to run that advertisement at all, and I am disappointed that Americans aren’t more respective of their former leaders.  History should not dull our senses so.  Kia, originally founded in South Korea, would probably never attempt such a thing in their home market.  Here in America, however, we tend not to care.  So I’m upset with Kia, and I’m also upset about the fact that no one else seems to care.

Rant off.   


One Response

  1. Wow, that is offensive- I think it’s sad, and distasteful…. it’s suppossed to be funny or a joke, but to make fun of someone who worked so hard for our country is terrible.

    the wifey

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