Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for February 8th, 2013

“God created transit”

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Background: I am an Atheist. I hate commercials – when they interrupt tv I mute the sound, I try to ignore them when they play them before the movie in a theatre. I do not watch sports on tv, and I avoided both the Superbowl and the number of opportunities that were made available for Canadians to see the Superbowl ads that they “missed” by posting on the internet.

So when Yuri Artibise tweeted earlier today using the same title as this bog post, I was ready to riposte. Oddly enough I have been having a tweet exchange over Christy Clark’s recent publicity surge over her Anglican attachments. I was quite proud of one response – she said that people who don’t attend church miss the weekly reminder to care for others. I tweeted “If what was done to BC Public Service Pensioners is evidence of her ‘caring’ then I would rather she didn’t care for me so much”

So to gear up for another onslaught I thought I had better check out the video Yuri was linking to. I was stunned to see the following image half way through

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 9.51.09 AMThat just happens to be my son Jim, riding the New York Subway.

To be clear, this was not a commercial that aired during the Superbowl. The following is taken from Yuri’s blog

Yet again, the ad that won the “Superbowl Commercial Sweepstakes” paid homage to the automobile. This stuck a nerve with Diana Lind of Next City, who created a brilliant two-minute riposte highlighting what’s great about public transit. According to Lind:

And yet the ad, like the one about soldiers for Jeep, conflated the merits of people with those of cars. Which seems a bit sad for 2013, when in the past six months climate change has reared its ugly head and begged us to change our consumption economy for something a bit more sustainable. And the nostalgic imagery — as if we only believe in farmers and soldiers to represent the best of humanity, and as if buying a car is a noble act — started to offend me.

Here is the video:

For the record, Jim does not have a driver’s license, and has not ever shown any interest in learning to drive. He lives in Brooklyn and has a Metrocard for his daily commute into Manhattan and uses transit for nearly all his local travel. He walks a lot too. He doesn’t have a bike.

He grew up in the suburbs (Scarborough ON, Saanich and Richmond BC) – and like most kids of his generation spent quite a lot of time in car seats. But he always walked to school (K-12)

He was completely unaware of this video until I texted him a short while ago.


I have now actually seen the commercial to which the one above is a riposte – and I think seeing it helps understand quite why it is a presentation and not a video.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 8, 2013 at 11:06 am

Posted in transit