Well, I’m at it again. I saw the State Farm commercial in the video below and something said to me, “Pay attention this is a parable about the Kingdom.” And upon further reflection, Indeed it is. You will call me crazy, but please add that I was crazy for Christ. I am also aware that I am reading into the commercial what the creators did not likely intend. But there’s just something about the way biblical archetypes still find their way into our culture. Let’s look more closely at this commercial.
Perhaps we do well to look at it by analyzing the dramatis personae (cast of characters) and weaving in the plot.
As the scene opens there are three women who come upon a car belonging to one of them. The car has been damaged. The three women may be likened to three different kinds of Christian and there is also a Christ figure who makes appearance:
- There is the sensible Christian, the woman in the center. She owns the car and, upon seeing the damage, is unfazed. She knows exactly what to do. She summons her State Farm agent who appears as if out of nowhere. She trusts him to handle everything and even encourages her friends to call on him.
- Her State Farm agent is a Christ figure. He wears a red tie, reminding us of the blood that was shed for us. He has a book in his hand, wherein everything is recorded. He arrives not only to bring help, but also to make a judgement, and thus he consults his book and goes to work (cf Rev 20:12ff). His name is “Rich” (cf 2 Cor 8:9). Later, in the ad, he will rebuke the darkness.
- A second woman to the left is a worldly Christian. Though the Christ figure stands in her midst, she ignores him and wants to see if she can come up with her own State Farm agent, an agent of her own making. For, it would seem the one standing there does not please her. She wants one who is cute and more “warm and sensitive.” Creature comforts, and an unchallenging agent, is what she wants, one who will be more soothing and surely not one who is dressed in a business suit (as is the Christ figure with the red tie, for he means business).
- A third woman to the right is a carnal Christian. She is lustful, impetuous, daring and wants a man who is the same. She hardly makes notice of the Christ figure, except to powerfully reject him with a sneer. She calls for her “agent” and he appears. He is rouge, a thug really, lustful, arrogant, irresponsible, and immature. He is the perfect projection of her carnal, lustful and fallen nature, and you can see it in the glint of her eye. She calls him “Darkside.”
In the background the Christ figure just keeps working as if to say, My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working (Jn 5:17).
But now the carnal thug is sitting on the car, sitting on the kingdom if you will. And so the Christ figure says to him: Hey Darkside! Get off the car! As if to say, Begone, Satan.
Yes, there it is, the Light rebuking the darkness, scattering it. Scripture says of Jesus:
- The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:5)
- I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (Jn 8:12)
- For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (Jn 3:16-21)
In this parable, who are you: The Worldly Christian, the Carnal Christian or the Sensible Christian?
17 Replies to “"Hey Darkside, Get Off the Car." What a State Farm Commericial Has to Say About God and Spirituality”
Thanks for a GREAT exegesis! Brilliant!
We spend so much time making up our own ‘doctrines’ and spirituality, based on what we want, not the truth. It is absolutely no surprise then, when we get into trouble and have to ask, “Where is God?”
It would help if we call upon Him, and accept Him honestly, as He is!
Yes, thanks,. It’s remarkable how many seek to make God in their image.
Hmm… I really liked this analysis, but I don’t think this can be called “exegesis”, since Msgr. Pope’s analysis is well beyond, if not entirely unrelated to, the meaning that was intended in the original “text”. This is a little bit more like picking out pictures in the clouds. An imaginative priest with a solid formation might be able to identify all kinds of holy objects — the nails from the Crucifixion, the Burning Bush, St. Catherine’s wheel, etc. — which he can use to teach lessons, but I wouldn’t really call that “exegesis” either. (Yes, God *may* have particularly intended the clouds to resemble those objects, but the Church sets the bar for miracles much higher.)
aka eisegesis instead of exegesis
Very good! Now try the J. G. Wentworth bus opera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAe97xmVRhM&feature=related
Interesting – a great musical track. I’ll set to work.
Maybe something about the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son?
“And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee and I have never transgressed thy commandment: and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me; and all I have is thine.”
In the real world, though, I’m afraid the deal being offered is much more like that offered by Jacob: your birthright for a bowl of pottage!
Wow, great post!
Now my contribution: Notice that Christ is the “good neighbor” (read good Samaritan).
It’s amazing how truth is hardwired into our nature even if we don’t want to recognize it. Thanks Msgr. Pope.
I don’t think I would have seen that hidden parable, even if I’d seen the commercial a 1000 times. That’s why they call you preacher! 🙂 Now what’s that proverb? “If the only tool you have is a hammer (i.e. the eyes of Faith), then everything looks like a nail.” I think that the proverb normally applies to fools. But, in your case, I’d say you’re just a fool for Christ!
I have been mulling about the Wizard of Oz in the same manner.
Girl goes from black & white world struggling for right and then is plunged into colorful OZ. (the kingdom of heaven–“born again” for Prots). Where she begins her journey to Emerald City (beatific vision)–but NOT alone, in unity with other travelers who help her with virtues of courage, truth and love. Though all of them had it all along (regeneration of baptism) they just had to learn to use them in battling evil (Wicked witch of west).
Beginning in Munchkin Land (where a bunch of small people have settled rather than actually going on the journey and getting bigger, stronger in the Lord– stunted Christians). And finally they arrive and must go through purgatory to actually get to see the Great OZ. (“Clip, clip, here, clip, clip there… and a couple of la-de-dahs… ) They are then perfected for the audience with the great wizard.
That is where the parallel breaks down, but it is a great tool to express the differences between Prot and Caths ideas of the faith journey.
Here’s another contribution; The Agent is both the same as the women (human) but also different (African American, male). Something in common, something “other.” And I am struck by two things: (1) there really may be clandestine Christians in the advertising agencies and (2) God regularly uses people who don’t understand they are serving His means to get work done in this world……love it. You need a BOOK of these meditations, Msgr! An e-book that can have links to the videos….
I love this post. I have seen this commercial before and never related it to the Kingdom of God. I just want to add something about your Kia car commercial blog post. I used the picture of the three hamsters you used for your blog as wallpaper for my computer at work. It helps me maintain a presence of God and that we can find God even in the most unusual places.
It is hard to tell, but it looks like the sensible Christian has a red heart pin, perhaps a devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate hearts? As long as we are looking for symbols…..
When I first saw this commercial I noticed the good guy bad guy thing but did not go anywhere near the interpretation given here. Thank you Fr. Pope for this. I am not so sure that the writer of this piece did not intend at least some of this interpretation. I hope the exploration of this does cause it to be withdrawn. We must recognize that some very good Christians are getting their foot in the door not only in Hollywood but also in business. Archbishop Chapute, echoing the call of Pope John Paul and Benedict XVI, has called us to enter the public square and many are heeding that call. Praised be Jesus Christ!
Great analysis, Msgr! I’m not so sure this symbolism was entirely unintended by the producers. That last line is pretty deliberate — “Hey, darkside, get off the car.” Either way, though, i love that you go into depth with this stuff. Thanks for the good lessons. Internet Catechisms on the fly!
The State Farm agent doesn’t actually tell Darkside to get off the car. He tells him to get his feet off the car, and Darkside immediately obeys.
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