Come Super Bowl, as tens of millions of Americans are glued to their televisions, rich companies happily fork out tens of millions of dollars for a mere thirty seconds of airtime. Many of those watching aren’t even interested in the football game but tune in just to catch the over-the-top commercials. This year was no exception. Apparently, Doritos (yes Doritos) is facing flack from perpetually angry abortion-rights advocates because its commercial, “humanized” the unborn child to an unsettling degree (tsk, tsk). Another Super Bowl commercial, put out by MINI, introduces a number of athletes who call out common stereotypes associated with the tiny car. It starts off with a muscular Serena Williams clad in skin-tight black leather stating, “This is a chick car.” Soccer star and LBGT activist Abby Wambach mockingly says, “This is a ‘gay’ car.” The thirty-second spot ends with a defiant, “This car doesn’t care what you call it.” The obvious m.o. is to shatter conventional associations with the car. Here’s how the company itself put it:

Small… cute… chick car. MINI has been called a lot of things. But we’re born from defiance. And we welcome these stereotypes so we can leave them in our dust. Those who defy labels, define themselves.

If you like the car and it works for you, buy it and don’t worry about what others say. I get that. (How anyone over six feet can cram into such a sardine can and be comfortable is a mystery to me, but I digress.)

It’s clear however that the commercial is pushing a message and agenda beyond that of one’s subjective car preference. “Define yourself” and “defy labels” are attractive, albeit hackneyed catchphrases of a secular culture still breathing the fumes of the ’60s, which places an ever-increasing premium on the rejection of conventional mores and standards in the name of “freedom”. You see morals, and a clear vocabulary tied to reality and to certain forms of human behavior, are not helpful and are not a part of our nature; they are simply manufactured and prohibitive “labels” imposed upon us by our archaic and repressive forebears to limit personal freedom. The origin for such thinking can be traced to the Enlightenment and, more recently, Marxism. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger offered an insightful reflection on this warped ideology.

Only one pedagogical method seems appropriate, a real pedagogy of freedom: education to rebel against all preconceived values, the unlimited liberation of the human being, who is himself the first to design himself ‘creatively’. . . . The idea of freedom here has been taken to its most radical extreme: no longer mere emancipation from tradition and authority, but now emancipation from the idea of ‘man’ as a creature, emancipation from one’s own nature, complete indeterminacy that is open to everything. (Emphasis added.) ~ Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology

In other words, “define yourself”. Another contemporary example, gender theory, understands one’s sex as something not fixed or intrinsic to his or her identity, but just another inconvenient, culturally and historically imposed “label” that can be swapped out for another, like a sweater at the Customer Service desk, or a car at the dealership.

Much like Adam’s telling work experience with the Campbell’s Soup ad, the MINI commercial is yet another manifestation of sad, unoriginal corporate pandering to a confused, antinomian, post-Christian culture. Companies such as these are cashing in on the stench of a rotting culture. Get used to it.