The video at the bottom of this post is a commercial that caught my attention the other day as emblematic of how coarse our culture has widely become.  And, as I watched it I thought “We have lost a lot in the recent cultural revolution.”

I suppose I shouldn’t expect a lot from a commercial for hard liquor (Skinny Girl cocktails). I have nothing against such products intrinsically, and even enjoy a usual nightcap of a shot of Bourbon (just one) mixed in a diet cola. But honestly, alcohol, by definition, doesn’t usually promote sober reflection and, if anything, it encourages stinkin’ thinkin.’ And frankly there’s a lot of “stinkin thinkin” in this commercial.

In the first place it ridicules the culture of the 1950s and early 1960s. The woman who exemplifies that era in the commercial is shown as stuffy, pretentious and extreme. She is finely attired in a pleated skirt, heals and a pearl necklace. But her “big hair” and poorly layered clothing seem intended to make her look “frumpy” and frankly, a big fake. Her unnaturally sultry voice also ads to the impression that the 1950s were “fake and stupid.”

Disclaimer - There is no claim here that the 1950s were some sort of idyllic period. Surely like any era there were problems and troubles. I am also under no illusions that all housewives strolled about like June Cleaver in heals and pearls, with a skirt perfectly fitted to their hourglass figures.

But as the commercial rolls on, I think we see that we have lost a lot. The picture flashes away from the elegantly dressed woman, careful for modesty and dignity (though excessively portrayed), to the modern scene where we are suppose to rejoice and approve at how far women have come.

And what do we see? Half drunk women, with painted nails and flip flops, liquor bottles in abundance, and the indelicate and boorish behavior of those who have been drinking too much. Further there are numerous displays of immodest dress, immodest posture and unbecoming behaviors. In effect, if you ask me, it is a celebration of all in our culture that is boorish, immodest, indelicate, and excessively informal.

To the ad to its credit, does not show these women exhibiting these behaviors before men. But the overall effect remains the same, a “celebration” of how far we’ve come from the uptight 1950s. Yes, look how far: crass, boorish, indelicate, inelegant, lowbrow, rough, rude, uncouth, unrefined, and largely vulgar behaviors, a mighty long way from what we once knew. As if to say, “Take that 1950s with all your formalism and restrictions…take that traditional values…We’ve come of age!”

Now of course folks in the fifties knew how to have fun and relax, it just doesn’t seem they had to be so boorish, under-dressed and uncontrolled to do it.

I did not grow up in the 1950s but did have a substantial period of my early years in the early to mid-sixties, before the revolution really set in. And again, we knew how to have fun, and even dress down occasionally. But as a general rule we were expected in those years to observe higher norms, to have manners, to dress up to go to restaurants, to Church, and to behave in certain ways in “polite company.” As a you young man I would never think to go to Church without trousers and a button down shirt with a tie. I had special clothes for Sunday. We might rough-house in the back yard in shorts and a tee-shirt, along with sneakers. But when we went into town, we “put on decent clothes.” This was true even when going to the grocery store (see photo upper right).

When company was coming we were expected to dress for the occasion. Table manners were important, and a young man was expected to treat a lady like a lady. Language which might not always be perfect around “the guys” had to be cleaned up when a lady or girl was in the room. Further, our posture and behavior were to be adjusted in the presence of a lady, and also when adults were in the vicinity. Respect and decorum were important ways of showing honor to others.

These days, much of this has been lost. We almost never dress up any more in our culture. Perhaps the closest we get is work. Beach attire seems more the norm in places where such attire would have been unthinkable in the past, places like Church, restaurants, movies, and other public gatherings. Manners are usually considered pretentious, as the commercial below mocks them. People laugh and look incredulous when someone suggests any sorts of limits to informality in most occasions: “What do you mean I should wear a shirt with a collar, what business is that of yours?”

I am under no illusions that we are going to make a sudden return to the more formal (and I would say polite) world I knew briefly in my youth, but the main point is simply that I think we have lost something. If, perhaps we were too formal and stuffy in the past, I think we have over-corrected. If perhaps, in the past we were somewhat phony, it does not follow that full disclosure and sociopathic, no-limits “honesty” is good either. Maybe in hot weather it is nice to wear cooler clothes, but it is interesting to me that in the years when air-conditioning was almost unknown, we managed to wear a lot more clothes to cover our nakedness. Somehow, despite the heat, we thought decency and modesty mattered.

I don’t know, look at the Commercial and tell me. Have we lost something? It is not necessary to use all or nothing logic, as if the 50s and early 60s were all good, and we are all bad. Perhaps there’s room though for a discussion in the middle ground where we may have simply gone too far, lost too much, and need to take a few steps back from the edge of an increasingly coarse culture; perhaps not back into poodle skirts and pleated trousers, but at least back to some sense that manners, modesty and more careful behavior have a place.

“Enjoy” this commercial and tell me what you think.

78 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    I guess i have bought into the culture pretty much since i hardly found the commercial offensive. nor did i experience the lady from the 50’s as a mockery– just a comparison. i would say the one thing that was a little offensive was the postures– but it went so fast i hardly noticed.

    • Lakeside says:

      I found the commercial offensive because it denigrates propriety and modesty. By taking a swipe at the 1950’s, which for the last fifty years have been held up as the example of all that is wrong with traditional morality, it mocks that morality.

      You may have bought in too much to this culture. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s so I remember what life was like before the sexual revolution of the 60’s. There were negative aspects about that era but, as Msgr. Pope points out here, there was much that was good and most of that has been lost. Today’s free and easy attitude about dress, behavior, and sex has not only coarsened the culture but has undermined the stability of the family, which cannot flourish in this kind of libertine culture.

        • Liana says:

          Yeap! Very well said indeed!

          • UltraMontane says:

            The problem is most people are not intellectuals, they do not question assumptions that society feeds to them through their peers, the media, advertisements, so called elites and intellectuals, the celebrities, etc. People are for the most part emotional creatures, and they subconsciously imbibe all these ideas through constant bombardment from the media and the general zeitgeist, and without exposure to past or other cultures where this is not the norm. People have a pressure to be conformist, to fit in, to be considered cool or normal, whatever that entails at the time.
            I grew up in India where although it is a Hindu country, traditional morality in all its forms was adhered to while I was there in the early 90s. I do know how western cultural hegemony through mass media has altered people’s psychology, but I grew up in an area of southern India that was Catholic through and through. People living in such an environment assumed these ideas, where going to daily mass for many housewives was a norm, rosary said daily in households, etc. Everything is seen through God’s eyes first. Of course, this is not what all people might have personally practiced, but this is what was held in high-esteem by the culture, and this is what one felt from living there.

            A culture that promotes such ideas as the West is currently doing is committing suicide. In fact, I don’t think there’s a need to fetch water. The house has already burned down. What is left is basically material and sensual pleasures only, nothing of depth or substance. Optimism at this point is cowardice.

            “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” -Krishnamurti

  2. Helene Romero says:

    Oh we have come a long way in many ways. We have iPhones, ipods, computers, gone to the moon, etc. You get my point. At the same time, we have lost respect for life and each other, and we are egocentric, self-indulged , GOD is almost a curse word now, UNLESS of course you use it in vain. Big and more is better, we can decide who lives and dies, then fly someone from another country to operate on them to save their life, so they don’t die. We took prayer out of schools, and replaced it with guns, drugs and weapons. We replaced a good confession, with a visit to the shrink doctor. Every chance we get, we try to erase God from this country and our world. We no longer need the “Author of Life.” We have become our own god. Yes, we have accomplished great things, but morally we are bankrupt, and until we “get it” that without God we are nothing, and the Euchuristic is REALLY JESUS, and Mary is also OUR MOTHER, we will continue to dance right into hell. BUT, Jesus is mercy, and forgives all sins from a contrite heart. Its never too late. He laid down His life for us. That’s how much He loves us. And in the end, your end and mine, nothing else matters at all.

    • c matt says:

      “We replaced a good confession, with a visit to the shrink doctor.”

      Even worse – we’ve replaced it with Oprah.

      • Liana says:

        Ha, ha, ha! That’s a good one, c matt, and very true. It is sad to see how many people tune to Oprah to get the “good advice” they are looking for. Good grief!…

  3. Nate says:

    I didn’t find anything offensive about the commercial either. And in DC, more often than not, the people acting in a Christian manner are not wearing suits.

  4. Laura says:

    The commercial gives you a choice: would you ladies rather have sensible shoes, good posture, and be poised, or would you rather have fun? It’s an either-or fallacy. Truth is, you can dress like a lady and still enjoy life. And you can still *act* like a lady even if you have occasion to wear flip flops.

    But we don’t see good models much. For gentlemen, there’s this site: http://artofmanliness.com/ . For ladies, I don’t know of a counterpart that isn’t commercial.

    • Danielle says:

      When I was coming back to the Church, I found this website helpful, although it isn’t Catholic, it had some good articles and had some really inspiring contributors: http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/

      Articles covered EVERYTHING, clothes, politics, family, education, etc. Sadly, I forgot about it until I saw your post!

  5. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    What society has lost is it’s inhibition because there was a movement back in the 60’s that with the advent of drug usage said ” Turn on, tune in and drop out.” Sobriety was no longer considered cool and the effects of drugs caused people to be comfortably numb to the fear and respect of authority. The civil disobedience of the civil rights movement just kept on rolling though conservative estabilisment as the devil came knocking at the door with the help of leftist social philosophers that pomised a utopian liberation. These pipe dreams smoked from bongs and thirsts quinched with a good dose of alcohol became the glorified behavior of celebrities, entertainment venues and songs which it’s followers bowed and prayed to. It became the new spiritualism that only sought new and greater forms of liberating contraban that made it’s user equal to all and a island unto themself. The goal was to feel good by being under the influence and not having to be bothered by a conscience. If conscience got in the way, get higher and party. As they got older, they realized they couldn’t physically keep doing the deal so they just devised ways to make sure we didn’t have to conform to decency so they marketed sensuality and made it the corporation of elitism. They maket it as the norm and envy of mankind. We have sexualized the teen and preteen generation and market to the older generation ways to enhance our relationships by pharmaceutical and mechanical methods to stay in the game long and stronger. They have sex right on TV in shows and on commercials with opposite and same sex couples and groups as normal behavoir. You are the one who needs councelling if you have issues with these behavoirs. We’ll make laws and put you sensitiviy programs should you attempt to take issue with the new norm. Even the president of the United States has finally completed his transformation. Or was it his transfiguration.

  6. Tom K. says:

    I see the commercial as an example of our culture eating its seed corn. There’s nothing ladylike about the women shown — in fact, the whole point of the ad is, isn’t it great that women don’t have to be ladylike anymore? And yet, the tag line, “Drink like a lady,” effectively confers upon the consumers of their product all of the rights of a lady, and none of the obligations. This hollowed-out idea of “lady” (of course we also have the matching meaningless term “gentleman”) can’t last, and, cheers from certain feminist quarters notwithstanding, I don’t think women or society will be well-served by a generation of parents who feel something is wrong with their seven-year-old daughters dressing up as strippers for Halloween, but can’t form a coherent argument against it.

    (I’ll also add that, in my opinion, a great deal of sober reflection is promoted through temperate use of fermented and distilled beverages. I myself am constructing a set of moral principles derived from whiskey-aided contemplation; I think I shall call it Apologia Pro Aqua Vita Sua (or, in the vulgar tongue, Keep Your Mitts Off My Bourbon).)

  7. Mike says:

    It did its job- it caught my attention. But in this day when so many young women fight with eating disorders, addictions, depression its amazing that you can sell a product that promotes all of these so well. Where is the outrage from women’s groups? I realize that they think they are cool by bullying June Cleaver, but maybe it’s Jacki Kennedy? No? Of course not. Mixed messages continue to plague this generation of young women as they struggle with the consequences of the freedom provided by their mother’s generation.

    • Molly'slips says:

      I agree. I was born in the eary 80’s. My mother gave me TV dinners, never sewed a stitch, complained we were too poor because we didn’t have cable, and was a terrible embarrassment most of my teen years. (tube top and flips flops everywhere into the 90’s)

      I only wish I could have learned to sew, bake, clean, cook, and do all teh wonderful things the women of the 50’s could do. To truly be lady like! Unfortunately, I am a product of my raising and find my self late in the learning curve on how to dress, act, speak, and even do the job of a lady. They did a huge disservice to us younger ladies. Now, that doesn’t mean I would love to be kept home 24/7, but they could have kept some of the better aspects, the useful aspects at least.

  8. Howard says:

    I’ll classify this under “Rain is wet.”

  9. Stephen from New Orleans says:

    The great “return to normalcy” after WWII left us with a craving for life that led to the materialism that begat relativism, political correctness and the idolatry that you mentioned recently. We’ve turned away from faith and have become extremely self absorbed as a nation.

    To replace the joy of Christ…the peace he left us with before His ascension, we turned to chemicals. We didn’t jump straight into “tune in, turn on drop out”; we became dependent on pills to give us life instead of Faith.

    The fifties and my parents generation began this (I’m 58)…so you’re right about the fifties not being an idyllic period…they begat the pharmacological age we live in.

    Antibiotics were invented during WWII. Before that people were aware of their mortality. People knew that life was ephemeral and they lived accordingly. My own New Orleans is distinguished from other cities in America because it has it’s own unique Latin culture that involves a “joie de vivre” that is intimately connected with death. Before those antibiotics were invented, New Orleans, being a tropical port city, was plagued every year by all sorts of tropical disease epidemics. People literally died like the flies that were often vectors of those epidemics. Part of that culture is a tradition of faith…the faith people are given to face sin and death.

    After WWII, in the fifties, death was thought to have been (largely) conquered by antibiotics. And once we weren’t faced with death, we turned away from faith and from Christ who ACTUALLY conquered death. This produced anxieties that were dealt with by widespread prescription of Valium (it may still be the most widely prescribed pill). Pharmacology and medical technology have the ultimate goal of extending life and avoiding death.

    Once death could be controlled by prescription the doors were flung open to the recreational drug life of the sixties, seventies, eighties etc. Today drugs control our life and determine public policy (witness the healthcare debate).

    We have come to the point that WE are in control of our lives…not God. Doesn’t all this sound like the fall…eating from the tree of knowledge? It sure sounded like a good thing to Adam and Eve. You can be like God and control your own lives.

    So you see, it really didn’t begin in the fifties…it’s been around as long as man has existed.

  10. Suellen says:

    I think commercials are excellent cultural indicators and this one exemplifies that. In between the two eras represented, women have supposedly been liberated. Sooo, now we can be crass, immodest drunks? Great. The name of the product is telling as well. Skinny GIRL?? Why is a girl drinking cocktails? How does one drink so much as to become an exhibitionist dancer and still remain skinny (ie; healthy)? As to frumpifying the 50’s, every generation seems to think they discovered “sexy” and everyone before them was hopeless in that regard. How narcissistic. The reality, of course, is that advertiser use these well researched methods because people respond with their dollars. Pray for our youth!

  11. Dave says:

    Well we certainly don’t raise “ladies” today or “gentlemen” for that matter, and by that I mean people with a sense of refinement and propriety. Yes, it is a broad sweeping generalization but take a look around today – and flip flops galore (which incidentally are awful for the feet and affect the way a person walks) but I digress.

    It seems to imply that today women are more into having fun and being “relaxed” but the comparison of an individual woman (from the 50’s) to a group of “girls” today in a party environment, technically is a mistake. Unless of course the implication is that women didn’t have fun in the 50’s and today they do …

    Of course, it is a commercial to sell alcohol and Skinny Girl – NOW – has a product to address the problems of footwear, poise, and posture (with low caloric content) … in today’s modern world … which were lacking in the 50s

    Of course the whole commercial is stereo typed but I think people believe that the 50s lady in the commercial was “true” or typical and that the “party girls” are typical and true today.

    So do the stereo types have a basis in reality? How much?

    And finally – will you now go out and buy a bottle of Skinny Girl?

    I won’t as I don’t drink but if I were going to buy some alcohol for my friends as a gift, I wouldn’t buy a bottle named Skinny Girl as it seems a bit too much of a reminder of the obsessive concern some women have over their weight. But then again these very same women would buy Skinny Girl who want to drink and think they are keeping their weight down at the same time.

  12. Jayne says:

    We have lost something, no doubt. One of the reasons that I love the remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” is that while the setting is the 1990s, the standards for dress are from the 50s: women in dresses, men in suits, not a logo or sports jersey to be seen. People are addressed as “Mr.” and “Miss”. That movie highlights beautifully a loss of respect for ourselves and for each other. I didn’t really find this commercial offensive, just dumb.

  13. Magnus says:

    Msgr, thank you for pointing up the cultural collapse. The general populace has become desensitized to this crudeness. Families have been replaced by party pals and the entire message being spewed by the media these days is that morals are boring and immorality is fun.

    Quite the opposite, if you have a strong sense of morality, then you will be persecuted, bashed, and in general treated no better than Christ or the Apostles. Not boring at all. Then there’s the joy of the Mass and the fulfillment of a well lived life. The happiness of good fellowship with other believers and family moments that bring us true enjoyment and love.

  14. Sarah M says:

    It is sad that no one cares to be classy. Think of the show Mad Men (I’m in my 20’s, maybe that show is a poor representation of its time but its the only thing I have to go on)– they are a cast of drunken, greedy, fornicating people but even in the midst of all their sin they manage to maintain a little class (or the veneer of it anyway). Nothing about the women in that commercial is classy or dignified as those are the very thing the ad (and my generation) despise.

    But in an age when we have the word “drunkorexic” who can be surprised?

    • c matt says:

      Agree wholeheartedly – it is a “class” thing. One goal of the “revolution” was to remove class distinctions.

      Only, in order to bring the “classes” together, our society decided to bring the upper class behavior down to lower class behavior, rather than the opposite.

  15. David F says:

    We have lost quite a bit. The clothes etc are a a distraction what we’ve lost is the desire to improve ourselves through self-discipline. The ideal of the Lady was likely rarely achieved but certainly a worthy goal. Today the focus is on self esteem (another word for pride and entitlement) and self indulgence. The product itself is an indulgence so their promotion follows

  16. Mary says:

    Well Msgr. Pope, I think the lady from the 50s was a caricature and the others, sadly, were not. The sad thing about having been raised in the 50s and early 60s is that I remember how different women were. They were so wonderfully different! Every time I’m out in public, it’s like a freak show. It’s a rare female who isn’t showing cleavage and wearing tight clothing that is meant to show everything. They’re all covered in tattoos and body piercings. They’re LOUD and often crude. They seem to know every swear word in the book, but they’re totally unfamiliar with “Please”, “Thank-you” and “Pardon me”.They have completely surrendered all that is soft and sweet and kind and so femininely beautiful. They’ve thrown it away. For what? It has been decades since I’ve seen men treat women the way they used to, and only those who are old enough to have experienced something much better are even aware of what is wrong. There is never a time when I go to the store that some mother shopping with her children doesn’t prompt me to say “Thank you, God, for giving me the mother you gave me. ” And then I have a one-sided conversation with my mother who died 4 years ago, and I thank her for always dressing so modestly and for always being so well mannered. And it was all genuine!

  17. Mary says:

    If I may post a second time: kudos to Robertlifelongcatholic. So very well said!

  18. markrite says:

    I WAS around in the ‘fifties, & I can somewhat speak to what Father is referring to here. Girls, women, WERE more modest, and usually carried themselves with some modicum of style and grace. There have always been exceptions, of course, but the RULE WAS girls and women were more level-headed. But the BIG THING to me about the ‘fifties (I was a teen-ager for most of those years) was the attitude of priests in general to the relevant issues extant then. I attended Christ the King Catholic churh in Hollywood, calif. We had an Irish priest, Fr. Peter Corcoran, as our pastor. And like so many of the priests then he was HELL ON WHEELS in the pulpit on sunday mornings. Fr. Corcoran PREACHED A SERMON, he didn’t “deliver a homily.” He had nicotine’stained fingers that he didn’t hide, they showed as he gripped the edge of the pulpit and, more often than not, delivered a hellacious sermon on BIRTH CONTROL, (no high-falutin’ words like contraception then for him) which was a “take no prisoners” type of sermon; if you used B.C., no two ways about it, you were on the slippery slope to hades. If he were alive today, I think he’d have a heart attack at the spiritual and moral level of too many priests active in arishes now. i’VE HEARD POSSIBLY THREE SERMONS IN THE OVER 50 YEARS SINCE ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL. It almost seems that parish priests today want to be “liked” so much, they’re deathly afraid of bringing B.C. up . Well they obviously know that over 80% of “Catholic” married women in the 21st century USE B.C. And the priests seem to care less where their female parishioners souls go, just DON’T INVOLVE THEM IN CONTROVERSY! How sad. GOD BLESS ALL, MARKRITE

  19. Jayne says:

    I agree, our culture has become informal. Sadly, a few weeks ago, the family sitting in front of us at Mass DID wear swim suits and cover-ups (that really didn’t “cover-up”) – and the dad just had on an old t-shirt over his swim trunks. There was serious ogling of the girls by several teenage boys. This family caused quite a bit of distraction throughout the Mass just by the way they were dressed. (I was raised in the 70’s & 80’s and was taught there were school clothes, work clothes, play clothes, Church clothes, etc. and if we were to go to the beach after Mass, then we would change after Mass.) We were going to complain after Mass – but one of the EMHC’s that day was the dad. Sad.

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks for the post Msgr. I am a ‘child of the 50’s’, and standards have become so lax as to be nonexistent. Habits that were seen as faults or character flaws then, such as the drinking and partying depicted in this commercial, are things that are celebrated and highly desirable if one wants to be accepted in social circles today. The people who produced the commercial didn’t really need to include the 1950-ish woman to make their point though…..there are enough stereotypes from that era to suffice. Look at what a great time you’ll be having if you buy and use these products. No thanks….you can have all this world…..give me Jesus…..

  20. Lucy says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I had the same reaction when I first saw the commercial..it’s a pity most of society does not understand or realize how much has been lost.

  21. Myrna Champoux says:

    Jayne, I join you in feeling just plain sad at how many people who show up for Mass dressed for the beach or in other inappropriate clothing. I can’t accept the argument often used to defend the attire of teens (torn jeans, low cut tank tops, skirts that barely cover the girl’s behinds, etc.) that says, “Well, at least they come to Mass!” This is Mass; our precious encounter with our Eucharistic Lord. We are in God’s holy temple when we are at church and to dress in overly casual outfits, flannel pajama bottoms, beach wear, and clothes that should never leave the house is just simply disrepectful! And although our EM and Lector training always includes a statement about appropriate dress, I still see EM’s every Sunday who obviously give no thought to “dressing modestly for God”. Pray for our culture. Pray for our youth. Pray for all of us.

  22. RichardC says:

    There was one way that that ad was clearly fake: none of the young women in it had a tattoo.

  23. nic says:

    i was just brought into the church last year, raised with little to no religious upbringing. i was born in the middle of the ’70’s, so here’s what this commercial says to me: drink and be merry!!! as a “victim” of eating disorders, i can tell you that there’s a very heavy influence on that in this commercial. i do understand that that wasn’t you question, but that’s what hit me most of all. i agree that our society has become very lenient, and not in a good way. i’m a fan of the “old” movies from the early sities and beyond, and the thing that i enjoy most is the very thing that we’ve lost. i’ll call it a touch of class. i always thought that mrs. cleaver was so silly in her perfect hair/dress/pearls, but it certainly is very classy. now that i have a teenage son, i’m shocked and horrified at some of the programming they have geared to children his age. i’m even more appalled at some of the things they say in commercials that they would never have said in a movie just 20 years ago. i would definately say that we’ve lost something in our “advanced” age.

  24. Sharron says:

    I have seen more than once a person’s behavior change (somewhat) merely by changing their attire–strange. Because so many have been ill-formed in church teachings I wish more homilies were used to really explain some of what really goes on at mass. I think too many have missed the real meanings of so many things said and done at the mass.
    Msgr. Pope–FYI–somehow mixing alcohol and artificial sweetner does not sound like a good idea. Some people develop things like migraine headaches and kidney stones from artificial sweetner.

  25. bob layaye says:

    i do think the media should try be accountable to the companies instead of their stockholders to insure the right message is produced instead of promotion to the xii stp

  26. Marti says:

    Commercials – one main reason I no longer watch “main stream tv”. This commercial is typical of what is shown today. I think it is pathetic that the product is being touted by one of the “real housewives of NYC”, and that many young women look to her as a role model.
    Most commercials today are inappropriate to watch in mixed company. Many I would be embarrassed to watch with my parents (may they continue to rest in peace).
    It is too bad that many people are influenced by what they see or read and have not been taught to think about what is presented and the morality of it. We have become desensitized over time by the gradual introduction of immorality into our culture.
    If need be we must learn to change to channel, turn off the tv, or complain to the advertisers but more importantly to pray for a change of heart for our country.

  27. Linda says:

    OK, folks, not to take on the whole readership of this blog, but I grew up in the fifties, and I feel obligated to defend our current culture, at least in some respects. Msgr Pope, I agree that, since that time, we have become more coarse as a culture and yes, there are aspects of that which should cause concern. (I come from Massachusetts and one of our small towns just passed a law against swearing in public, and the national press made fun of the town! ) So we have lost some things, but we have also gained. How many of your readers remember crouching against an inside wall in school, and putting their hands over their heads, to practice survival techniques when the Russians dropped the bomb? Remember, we were the first generation who grew up knowing that we humans had the ability to destroy the whole world. How about going to Midnight Mass for Christmas, when a noticeable number of the attendees were so drunk they barely knew where they were? This was one of the major reasons that so many parishes dropped Midnight Mass from their Christmas schedules, and now, because you don’t tend to see that any more, more and more parishes are feeling confident enough to add Midnight Mass back in. And how many of those ladies with the nice dresses and the pearls were using make-up to cover the bruises and black eyes that their husbands gave them? So many women were forced to stay in truly awful marriages because women didn’t work and couldn’t get any credit, which meant they had no way to get away from those abusive husbands.I think that everyone in my age group knew of someone in their neighborhood who killed themselves, always mitigated by the fact that “they must have had terminal cancer.” There was no understanding of depression and mental illness, and no real impetus to study it, as long as we all accepted that suicide was always a sin and was to be condemned. Of course, we have the high profile issue of clergy sexual abuse, so much of which occurred in fifties. Just another topic on which so little was known or understood back then. But the fact that no one would talk about it meant that it went on and on for so many more years than it would have, if it had just been brought to light.
    I can’t think of a period in history more “coarse” than the Middle Ages, which were a time of great piety. I can certainly enjoy Shakespeare’s plays as they were written, just as much as I enjoy the sanitized versions that we have today. Truth is truth, however it is presented. It’s just more comfortable if it’s presented nicely, rather than coarsely.
    So to repeat, I’m not saying everyone else is wrong here, just that maybe it’s not as important as it might seem.

    • Nate says:

      Yes, Linda, some of the posts above imply that people didn’t sin as much before the 1960s. The difference between now and then is that today we have a social welfare system that often serves as an enabler.

      • Linda says:

        There just has to be something between “everything is a sin” and “nothing is a sin.”

        • Scott W. says:

          That would mean something if someone here actually suggested either one, but they didn’t. Let me address this point: “There was no understanding of depression and mental illness, and no real impetus to study it, as long as we all accepted that suicide was always a sin and was to be condemned” Actually, the Church has always taught and continues to teach that suicide is always and everywhere gravely wrong, which it is. They have also always taught that the loss of Heaven through mortal sin depends on one’s subjective culpability and relative circumstances. Thus, while the Church always taught (rightly) that suicide is always wrong, they never taught that suicide means automatic condemnation to Hell.

    • W. Randolph Steele says:

      I agree Linda. I grew up in the 50’s & early 60’s and it was in no way the idyllic time some of these poster think it was. Actually, the “50’s” really began after teh Korean War in 1953 and lasted until the assassination of President Kennedy in NOvember 1963 and then everything changed. Or so it seemed. Suddenly everything we knew was wrong.
      Also youmust remember the portryal of the 50’s is of the typical middle class family. IF you were working class like I was, you wondered WHY things weren’t like they were on tv. There was a lot of criticism of middle class mores then as well. Remember the movie, “The man if the gray flannel suit”? Or Vance Packard’s book about advertising, “The Hidden Persuaders”? Dr Suess summed that one up best with “YOU NEED A THNEED!”
      I also remember how easily tranquilizers were perscribed because my mother took them (and thenakfully didn’t get addicted to them). It was a VERY common practice then. Remember the Rolling Stones song around 1966, “Mother’s Little Helper”? THAT’S what that was about. I also remember, the Catholic women, when “The Pill”, became avaiilable, having their Protestant gwyn’s prescribing it to”regulate their periods”.
      Oh yeah, and that reverent Church? I remember it well because of the punishments handed out if you made msitakes at Mass, however innocent. I can remember having my pastor threaten to cut my arm off for the “crime” accidentally picking up his beretta by the tassel. Or the priest who punished me for forgetting some prayers as an altar boy when I was suddenly called in during the summer to serve Mass when another guy went on vacation without telling anyone. I also remember the brutallity of the Catholic schools I attended. While I never was ( I was too frightened to misbehave much) I saw kids who were. I saw children slapped, hit with rulers, and beaned with erasers. Later, in the minor seminary, I was beaten after a phys ed class for not performing up expectations by a priest, who later left the priesthood after deciding that he was “unhappy” with his vocation. Another of my classmates who WAS ordained, who had even more trouble with him than I did, ran into him years later and the former priest was STILL ajerk. Nothing had changed.
      I rememver the 50 kids in my 1st grade class. I remember the kids, including me, who suffered from “Catholic Bladder”. Don’t know what that is? Well, it was a condition that occurred in children, especially adolescent’s that caused an enlarged bladder from having to “hold it” until you were allowed to go the rest room. I remember the shame many of us received from having “accidents” because we couldn’t hold it until the proper time. Even a call from Catholic pediatricains couldn’t get the policy changed while werre in school.
      If you didn’t like it the nuns answer was”Then go to public school”.
      The economy? I remember the 1958 recession when my mother had to take in laundry from relatives at $5 a load just so we could eat. Tell again about the bad safety net.
      Finally, while I don’t particulalry like today’s “culture”, IF my choices are today’s culture and the 50’s, I’ll take todays’. I’ll leave you with this from the great CONSEVATIVE of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s H.L. Menchken. He said in the 1930’s “Nobody ever went bankrupt underestimating the TASTE of the American People”.

      • HELLO…. Read my disclaimer.

        • W. Randolph Steele says:

          NOT aimed at YOU Monsignor. I did read your disclaimer. It was aimed at other posters here. I’m sorry that my post was as harsh as it was, but I’m afraid that some of the posters pushed some of my memory buttons and brought back a lot of unpleasant memories, so I posted as I did.

          • Scott W. says:

            It was aimed at other posters here

            Ok, who here suggested the 50’s as an idyllic time without problems what exactly did they say that suggested it? What you have given is a laundry list in lieu of a substantial argument.

  28. Anne says:

    It is very sad to see women who should know better(55+) wearing utterly revealing clothing, saying OMG, talking loudly in church, marching for pro-abortion legislation,counseling their daughters not to have more than two children, and just generally turning their backs on the example of their mothers. These women in my age group do remember a different time but have thrown the morality and beauty of that era overboard.
    Worst of all, is to see women in their seventies and eighties exhibiting the same lack of dignity and charm.

  29. Jennifer says:

    Although I agree with many of the points made in the post and comments, I was underwhelmed by the commercial… It is SO tame compared to most of them… Especially Victorias Secret commercials, which ought to be aired only after 10 pm in my opinion, or better yet, NEVER!

  30. Larry says:

    There is a book that has been recently published (2009) called, “The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization” by Michell Kalpakgian that discusses these issues in detail. http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-Arts-Modern-Civilization/dp/1930873905 This is the wedding gift we give to newlyweds. It is the little bit we can do to reform this very sad culture.

  31. TaylorKH says:

    How would you present yourself to our Blessed Mother in the presence of God the Father? I mean, what does your heart tell you? Should you were shorts that look like wrinkled underwear? I saw that in Mass this morning at the Poor Clare Monastery. I was offended – not for me – but for the Lord. The Sisters are cloistered; they don’t have to be offended by such non-chalance.

    My analysis of the underwear-wearing mentality: “It’s all about me and how I feel. Jesus wants me to feel comfortable.” Yeah, right. Jesus wants you to honor His Mother and Father!

    Loving God is about being centered on HIM and not on how we feel. If you are centered on Him, you are concerned about honoring Him. You don’t honor God by dressing to suit yourself at Mass. In that case, it’s just all about you instead. God knows these things – what’s really in your heart.

    We don’t wear clothes to compete with others either – that, again, is the “It’s all about me” mentality. Wear clothes to Mass to honor God and our Blessed Lady and the Saints, and the souls of the Just, and each OTHER.

  32. Todd Flowerday says:

    I’d have to say I’m in the tradeoff camp. And I’m a skeptic when it comes to the notion of exceptionalism, that people of different generations or ideologies are any more or less moral than others. Every age has its own challenges, triumphs, and scandals. There was a lot of ugliness in the 50’s. We can’t go back.

    When it comes to commercials like these, they are brainchildren of corporations. They exist to sell a product. This commercial wasn’t designed to appeal to people who drink and actin moderation. People who manufacture and distribute alcohol are more “successful” when three women have six drinks each and don’t worry about body image (aka weight), while the fourth has one or two and drives them home … as compared to four women who have one or two each.

  33. [...]  Msgr. Pope on the coarseness of our [...]

  34. Karelle says:

    The only thing I found offensive was the feet they used at the beginning of the commercial. With all the pretty feet in this world where did they find those!

    • Karelle says:

      Why is this commercial becoming a religious statement. I found nothing about religion in it????

      • SJLowe says:

        Karelle, maybe that’s part of the problem with American Catholics: Some of us do not have a distinctly Catholic worldview. Absolutely everything must be seen through the lens of the Faith. There is nothing that is morally neutral.

  35. Patricia says:

    nos·tal·gia noun
    1.a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time

    I think Fr. is wistful for a return to a time when decency, good manners, respect for self and others, moderation, a time when right and wrong were easily recognized and common place. He is pointing out a time ( the 50s and 60s) when this was still mostly so. He was not saying everything about the time was perfect (read the disclaimer)

    Of course we can look at the time and argue that people were pretending , stressed with all the hypocrisy etc. i think this is not fair, I know my parents were happy. They knew their roles,and respected each other, loved God and us children and created as safe a haven as they could .

    There seems to be a tendency to make caricatures , and stereotype no matter what age we talk about. You could say we have lost much more than good manners and a sense of personal decency and moderation,the current culture with feminism , relativism, hedonisim , superficiality, leading the way, has twisted and warped what womanhood and what masculinity are. People are going about without moral compasses and so anything goes. Words like “being real, authentic , free,” are used but again, real truth, authticity and freedom are elusive. The real questions are not being asked. Who are we? Why are we here? What is Truth? Thinking hurts.

    The commercial was a reflection and projection of the reality of many young women today. Its the “Girls just wanna have fun ” mentality with girlfriends,(no men needed) living for the moment, being indulgent ,naughty, needing to feel accepted, and wanting to forget life’s problems for a while with some yummy martinis.

  36. Ann says:

    I’m attending my 55th high school reunion in a couple of weeks, and I can attest, along with my classmates, that the 1950’s, while not idyllic, were almost heaven compared to what we see in our culture these days: the breakdown of modesty (both men and women), the willingness of women to dress with the least amount of clothing (we live in a beach city), even at church, and to be available to any guy who is interested, the coarse, vulgar language heard everywhere, etc. etc. Most of our parents were married for life. We had several siblings, not just one or none. Dogs and cats were pets, not substitutes for children. TV was tame, for the most part. No more. Bring back the patriarchial society, PLEASE. I hope and pray that the children growing up today will have an epiphany about what it means to be a child of God, no matter what age, and to put His glory before our own. An elderly priest once said that if you want your children to go to heaven, you will throw away the TV (and now the computer) and home-school them. It would be worth the sacrifice.

  37. Loud says:

    I’m still very young, still a teen, but if you don’t mind me putting in my two cents…..
    I’m not very polite. Well, I’m not polite OFTEN. But I was just hanging out with what many people consider to be a ‘normal’ teen earlier today, and I was shocked by some of the langauge she would use, not swearing, but the generally crass language and topics that was coupled with the utter disreguard for the fact we were working as volunteers at a Vacation Bible School thing where we were constantly surrounded by much younger kids. I thought of all my other friends, who were, by contrast, very polite, cheeful, and FUN. Last time I saw them, we had a crazy awesome game of ultimate frisbee. Their faces weren’t as heavy with makeup, their humor wasn’t as dark, they would never be caught dying uttering the phrase that came from her mouth: “I don’t wanna get up because these jeans are tight and hard to walk in, but I like them because they are so comfortable.”
    I remeber talking to her about a recent youth mass she hadn’t made it to after party where all the boys, some of the men, and I (the lone girl), also played ultimate frisbee, and almost commented on how I was so angry to see all the other girls standing in a circle, playing with their phones and doing nothing. But I stopped because I realize that, like her, they couldn’t. I had been the only girl who dressed with the actual activities in mind. I wore pants because of the sports, but the pants were nice, tan slacks and I wore a blouse with a collar because I was going to mass. The other girls had worn tight jeans, sparkly makeup, tangtops, flipflops, ect.
    Not only is my generation less inclined to manners and nice dress, we don’t even know how to dress properly for an event when a situation calls for it. Even when it’s a casual situation.

  38. Loud says:

    Living in America and being a Catholic, the strongest temtations we face from society isn’t exessive alcohol, drugs, crudeness, imodesty, extra-marital sex, or any such thing. Though, God knows, they can be tempting things. The strongest temptation is descent into megalomania and delusions of granduer, where you find yourself suck in fantasies of building your own nation, a utopia, free from all those temptations and filled with handpicked people who will foster healtheir atmosphere. To create your own ‘Farmville’ or to build a colony in some remote place like in the games ‘Civilization’ and ‘Age of Empires’ and ‘Majesty’.There is nothing wrong with improving what is there, there is nothing wrong with teaching your children to be good, love the wholesome, avoide the crass. There is nothing wrong with moving to a place where you feel it would be easier to instill these vitues. But we- no, I- must. Resist. Megalomania.

  39. Maria says:

    Msgr. Pope is right, we have lost something.
    So lets find it again. Let’s dress and act modestly and decently. And let’s set an example for our children. It really is possible.

  40. Patty says:

    In this commercial, I see three different scenes: the nightlife, the pool, and a party at home, all with just “the girls.” The commercial is suggesting situations in which “the girls” can consume Skinny Girl beverages as part of their fun.
    And that’s what stands out to me. The issue in the commercial is not so much about dress or posture in itself, but the behavior these women exhibit, that gives me pause. The commercial is all about giving up the stuffy (represented by the 1950’s caricature). It’s about “party” behavior, which is about sensual (usually leading to sexual) self-enjoyment. This is reflected in a “looser” presentation of dress and posture, being loud, being uninhibited, and of course drinking Skinny Girl cocktails.
    And as Msgr. Pope points out, there are no men in the commercial at all. So who is Skinny Girl being marketed to? The single woman, or at least the woman who values partying over her other responsibilities in life. In other words, “it’s all about me……”

  41. Karelle says:

    I grew up in those times. Are we saying that because we, as women, are not allowing ourselves to be ruled by a society that viewed woman as property that we are not good Catholics? Woman were told to speak when spoken to, beatings were allowed, and your job was to take care of the man, the house and the children. The commercial is just saying! we have come a long way and enjoy it the way you want to. Lets not make it more than it is. If you have a good time your not being responsible, Really! Wow, Where do you get that from???

    • Dressed Up says:

      I think things are just as bad in their own way today. Women are expected to put up with everyone else’s disgusting behavior–including that of men–and “be a sport” about it instead of insisting on being treated like ladies and getting indignant. I see the women in the ad as complicit in their own objectification. They don’t look like they would get terribly upset if some jerk came on to them or talked down to them. I don’t think the commercial is saying “enjoy life the way you want to.” I think it’s saying “If you don’t act like a ‘Jersey Shore’ cast member every weekend, then you must be mentally ill.”

      • Dressed Up says:

        Also, if you are constantly worried sick about being skinny (maybe literally worried sick), then you are not taking the reins in your own life and can’t be enjoying it very much.

  42. Karelle says:

    And of course it is being marketed towards woman, What man do you know would openly drink Skinny Girl Cocktails.

  43. Carol says:

    A truly dopey commercial, and for me it is somewhat reminiscent of the commercials portraying a woman mopping her kitchen floor in an evening gown. Neither the fifties caricature nor the partying trollops are a realistic picture of what the majority of real women are like, either then or now. I dislike being objectified in either direction.

    That being said, I will continue to wear my “business casual” outfits to Mass (clean khaki or wool slacks or skirts, well tailored tops, and maybe a jacket, depending on the time of year,) sans mantilla, as I have done since my adolescence, until the magisterium says otherwise. I’m neither Old Order Mennonite nor a religious sister. I am a single middle aged Catholic professional woman, and see no need to wear ill-fitted and dowdy homemade clothing to conform to some conservatives’ extreme notion of what modest clothing is.

    It is entirely possible to be modest and well-dressed without making an extreme spectacle of oneself or spending a fortune in the process. Simple, tailored pieces have a more timeless flavor to them, and are wearable over the course of several years, as opposed to the cheesy faddish imports. Amortizing the cost of a few suits over five years will demonstrate to those with the slightest competence in mathematics that such a wardrobe actually saves one money over slavishly following every fad, even if premium labels are bought.

    That being said, I doubt I would purchase Skinny Girl cocktails. They sound dreadful. If you want to cut calories, don’t drink so much.

  44. Century75 says:

    The US has been coarsened and ‘dumbed-down’. No question. We are what we are fed, and the diet of trash has been provided by the media. I agree – this began very quickly after President Kennedy was murdered, and intensified after his soon to be President, brother RFK was gunned down. A tremendous societal manipulation has transformed what was a scientifically aware and modern oriented America that JFK launched in quickly after he was elected. War was a very foul word. Peace – the Peace Corps – was to be admired. It wasn’t long before we became an interplanetary society ! Truly, we were. Thanks to President Kennedy.

    I watched as – well, it was as a switch was thrown ! The changes were palpable and grim. The media.. is vulgar. They denigrate the American citizen. The TV shows, the motion pictures.. not just coarse & vulgar, they are often quite obscene. But always they press on with the dumbing of the populace. Unbelievable ! But true.

    Our country is as if under attack. From within. Like the Roman Empire. And Russia. And others.. Well, we have foreign national citizens of another nation/state – in OUR government ! Making laws that have changed us forever. Thrown away our highest levels of technology. Demolished so many of our factories, threw our citizens to the streets. But no politician dare bring up the elephant in our midst. The one with a foreign lobby in OUR country. A very powerful lobby that has engendered the big changes that people look askance at each other, not understanding why we are the way we are today. Well, Helen Thomas knows…

  45. Majolica says:

    What is very funny is that the people who are responsible for this commercial show how little they themselves know about the very manners they mock.

    The commercial pokes fun at the restrictive manners of the 50’s woman, who is so “correct” as she sips her tea, with her super-straight posture and her white gloves.

    But as most people who grew up in those times would know, no lady (or gentleman) is supposed to drink or eat anything whatsoever before removing gloves.

    (The actress who played George Bailey’s sister-in-law in It’s a Wonderful Life was upset because director Frank Capra had her eat a mouthful of popcorn while wearing gloves. She knew It’s Simply Not Done.)

    In fact, when little girls used to show up for First Holy Communion with their charming little white gloves, the nuns would remind them that the gloves must should be removed before approaching the altar rail – because of course, a mannerly person doesn’t “eat” anything wearing gloves.

    Ladies and gents, that still goes. When we go up to Communion, we must remove your gloves.

    And to commercial directors, I say: Get with it. Before you ridicule proper manners, get an understanding of what manners really are!

  46. Mike F. says:

    An excellent article, Monsignor.

    I would add the parallel that the Mass itself, formerly celebrated with great decorum and refinement, now ceases to be (in most places).

    We went from this form of Mass in the 1950’s and early 1960’s: http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa64/9977528/Mass.jpg

    To this form of Mass: http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/htimages2/a021ht_AmazingGraceArizonaLitDance.jpg

    • Yes, though to be fair, the Mass was almost never celebrated that beautifully in the 1950s. There were already significant problems in that era, including rushed masses, mumbled Latin that sounded more like gibberish really. And it was the very kids that came through the 1950s Catholic schools and seminaries who threw the revolution.

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