Response to the MTV Spring Break Ad

For many Americans the images of last week’s paid advertisement for MTV’s are “normal.” No big deal, right? There was no blatant nudity and no one can prove from the pictures what was in all those plastic cups. I deeply admire many staff members of the Merciad. JoEllen, you in particular make me so proud to work at Mercyhurst: for the passionate, compassionate person you are and the many fantastic causes to which you dedicate yourself. However, including this advertisement was a very poor decision. Mercyhurst should in no way condone the binge drinking and “hooking up” culture which has been portrayed and defined by MTV for decades.

When I told this to a faculty adviser for the Merciad, he responded that three things worry him concerning what should be advertised: (1) promoting alcohol, (2) messages contrary to Catholic values and (3) particularly sensitive political issues. Apparently this advertisement did not qualify. Did I miss something? From my perspective, to quote the band Meatloaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Across the world women’s dignity is being systematically threatened this very day (through slavery, prostitution, pornography, domestic violence and practices and policies intended to keep women “in their place”). This demeaning sexist attitude begins with the wet T-shirt contestants lined up in the background of a photo on the advertisement and in the “banana eating contest” publicized on the Web site.

There is a distinction between what students write in the Merciad and what advertisements are placed inside. Advertising for MTV Spring Break does not necessarily mean that we condone this, but it says (unequivocally) that we do not oppose it. I do oppose it, along with the Catholic Church and the Sisters of Mercy. If you know me, you know that I am not a moral prude. I simply believe, as a husband, father and proud Catholic Christian, that every human is created with profound, inherent dignity.

When anyone’s dignity is demeaned, I am demeaned, and so are you.

I wonder: How much money did we receive from MTV for these advertisements? Is it enough to justify the prospective parent and student who were handed a copy of the Merciad during their campus tour? Does it distress anyone that the Sisters of Mercy (who pray for all of us daily) will inevitably see this advertisement?