Page 202

The Lover


message has even affected politics: George Bush failed to win reelection in part because he was increasingly associated with a Madison Avenue image rather than some reality about his character. Ironically, Bill Clinton had an advantage in the public mind simply because people knew about his vulnerabilities. A film shown at the 1992 Democratic convention talked openly about his standing up to an abusive stepfather and his brother’s struggle with drugs. In addition, he and Hillary had gone public about “difficulties” in their marriage—which was, of course, code for “We haven’t always been true to one another.” In the 1990s, it became commonplace for Donahue, Oprah, and other talk shows to host confessional shows in which ordinary people and celebrities would bare their souls, revealing secrets that would never have been disclosed in the past. Our public discourse is increasingly influenced by the Lover’s desire to know people’s secrets. At the same time, the public has become as accepting of people’s vulnerabilities as intimates have historically been. It is therefore a great paradox that they will trust a politician who is open about his defects more than one who claims to have “character.” Baring one’s soul now seems almost to be required to win public trust. That’s where contemporary advertising falls somewhat short. The superficial message to today’s Prince Charming in advertising is that it does not so much matter how his real self connects with appearances, as long as he has the right automobile (carriage). Yet both men and women who are beyond 16 do not feel this way. In extreme terms, the association of cars with romance in ads directed at men even leaves the girl out entirely. It is the car itself that is the love object. One ad by Hyundai shows a bright red satin garter belt just above the automobile, with the caption “Get something just as hot for the garage.” State Farm Insurance also ran an ad with the car as the love object, but with a nod toward some complexity. Front and center is a picture of a red convertible with the caption, “We were there when you found your first love. She was hot. And so-o-o-o choice. Your first real love. Sure she burned more oil than gas. But hey, man . . . love is blind.” The truth is, cars are often a man’s first love, and loving a car that burns oil is great preparation for loving a woman even though she is not perfect either.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype