Do you love to be offended?

It’s a clear effort to cash in on the publicity generated by the Paris Hilton “that’s hot” advert which consisted of the scantily clad socialite washing a car and noming a burger. Like most sequels penned as an afterthought to success, this one fails horribly. See for yourself, if you like, although be prepared to feel like an enormous hypocrite by the end of this if you start out knowing it’s the sort of thing you won’t approve of but want to have a peek anyway. Here it is.

The Paris Hilton commercial I understood; the first thing I feel like doing after washing the car is having a burger, and the commercial made fun of Hilton’s catch phrase, “That’s Hot.” Provocative? Sure. But at least it was good marketing.

This commercial, like the Kardashians’ reality show, is tacky and doesn’t make any sense at all. “I’m such a neat freak,” she declares. If you’re such a neat freak, why on earth are you eating a salad in bed, you wacky tart? Then of course there’s the bit where they do a salad dressing money shot, which made me throw up a little in my mouth.

And here’s where I come to the point.

For puritanical people who get up in arms at even the tiniest perceived slight against their belief system, this kind of thing is like pouring petrol on an open flame. Human beings are already vulnerable to the bizarre need to share something awful with the person next to them. “Oh, man, this tastes awful. Here, try some.” Or “oh, man this four week old pasta smells vile. Come here and have a whiff.” Puritanically religious people must contend with this instinct as well as their need to take pride in holding up something offensive for public condemnation.

I don’t watch much television; the only way I found out about this commercial was because a relative posted the damn thing on Facebook with comments about how offensive it was and how degrading to women Ms. Kardashian’s behaviour was. It was followed by a long stream of comments from Mormons expressing how offended they were and how they were going to tell everyone they knew about the deep offence they were feeling.

I thought the commercial was stupid. So my solution is not to waste any more time watching it. I’ve got better things to do. But the Mormons wanted to go on and on: “I watched that Kim Kardashian commercial seventeen times and every time I got even more offended.”

If you have ever wondered whether or not you are a hypocritical puritan, ask yourself this: do you take pride in publicly shaming people who don’t meet your moral expectations? New England puritans burned witches. Muslims stone women who are raped. Americans engage in slut-shaming, and Mormon Americans are especially enthusiastic about this pastime. Whether it’s a scantily clad socialite, Hot Mormon Muffins, or low-profile homosexuals, Mormons love to freak out. This does two things for the Mormons: First, it’s a chance for them to feel morally superior as they somehow manage to make their way through this horribly Satanic world. Second, by publicly castigating people they disapprove of, they can exorcise the feeling that, deep down, they are envious of those who are clearly having a lot more fun than they are in life.

Pointing out this to Mormons doesn’t do any good. Every time I visit relatives they spend most of the time watching television. About every five minutes someone will cry out in horror when a character in a movie uses a naughty word, or complain about how awful television is “these days.” I suggest that if they find television so offensive, they should stop paying for cable. Suddenly the room goes silent. Mormons couldn’t cancel their cable, because at the end of the day the enjoy both the innocent and offensive material, and the pleasure they get helps them ignore the hypocrisy of paying for entertainment so that they can be offended by it.

This is just a Mormon application of a universally puritan principle. After all, a website in London that helps people link up to commit adultery is currently getting its best advertising from . . . wait for it . . . the Christians protesting the website on Facebook. There are puritans in every belief system, even atheism. But I will say that Mormonism is among those systems of belief and culture that is particularly susceptible to this problem. Repression breeds obsession, after all.

If you’re a puritan, you can overcome your tendencies, and you don’t need to listen to a Mormon-turned-agnostic like me to learn how. Jesus had an opinion on slut-shaming: mind your own business. Avoid the temptation to give yourself an ego trip by casting stones, and maybe we’ll all get on just a bit better.

2 thoughts on “Do you love to be offended?

  1. Pingback: Sunday in Outer Blogness: Awards and More! | Main Street Plaza

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