Last Sunday at the Superbowl (Go Colts!) one of the ads really pissed me off. This kind of callous hypocrisy is rare, and remains underreported still.
I am talking about the "sad robot" ad of General Motors. This ad was partly filmed in a GM plant in Lansing recently in the news for its flaunting of environmental regulations (which GM rejected by withdrawing from the Global Climate Coalition).
A bit of context: GM is firing workers left and right, publicly stating that its aim is to downsize its United States workforce, and is especially reducing the number of salaried employees (in other words: the few remaing workers that enjoy benefits such as pensions and healthcare), outsourcing everything abroad or to contract workers. In fact, its worse: GM pays its workers - tens of thousands of them - to leave.
So here comes a multimillion dollar Superbowl ad profiling the life of a GM factory robot after getting fired, moving from one deadend job to the next and ultimately killing itself. Sure, in the end it is just a "dream" or should we say: nightmare, as this is a scenario that hangs over the head of every single worker of this callous company. So what is this - a slightly veiled threat to GM employees? "Better shape up or you're next, and when you are, there will be nothing left for you but to commit suicide..."
It sickens me, this ad. It is stupid, offensive, hypocritical, and at its best it is insensitive and ignorant. By the way: GM is not an "American" car company, as its cars are just as transnationally manufactured as the so-called "foreign" cars in the United States (like Toyota or Volkswagen). GM operates car plants and increasingly subcontracts in countries such as Poland, Thailand, Canada, China, and India(all with local government support and subsidies). This is a global corporation that apparently thinks it is perfectly okay that its laid-off employees, faced without any future or healthcare or pension plan, have no other option but to either swallow exploitative labor policies or face, well, death. Wonderful stuff.