We’re going through a period of tough economic times right now and advertisers are starting to get pretty desperate. People aren’t spending money like they used to, so brands are forced to make some outlandish claims.
My favorite is one I recently saw Harley Davidson make in last week’s issue of Sports Illustrated. Here is what the subhead of their magazine advertisement said:
“For over 100 years, we’ve unleashed a lot of souls. We’ve made men bolder, women stronger and shrinks poorer.”
That is adorable.
The idea that sculpted metal and rubber from a factory in Milwaukee is going to unleash your soul is so over the top ludicrous that it travels passed ridiculous and comes all the way back to hilarious.
And I’m cool with Harley. I think they have a great brand, an amazingly loyal fan base and an important role in American pop culture. I like all those things, but what I like the most is how upfront they are about wanting to be your idol. Rarely does something desiring our adoration come right out and say, “Think of me less as a motorcycle and more as a soul liberation machine.”
I wish all our idols were that obvious. I wish that when I got a glimpse of something I was tempted to idolize, I would laugh at it like I laughed at that Harley Davidson ad and move on. But I usually don’t. Usually I sit and stay awhile. I feed my idol an hour here, an hour there until it grows big enough to start eating weeks and months. Even something that starts good, like a new job opportunity, can grow into a monster of attention, as I start to ask it to rescue me, to save me from boredom and give me adventure and happiness and complete me. To unleash my soul.
If I’m being honest, the book I’m writing and this blog are two things I constantly find myself attempting to idolize. There are some mornings when I wake up and think, “Oh magical blog, please validate my worth today, through the power of Google Analytics and web traffic, tell me I’m somebody special and important. Free me from my normal life and grace me with your awesomeness.” And just when I started to deal with that in counseling, the book came along and I was back on the idol band wagon, “Oh book, you’ll probably be able to cure cancer and poverty and the bird flu within the first 15 pages. If I sell enough of you, I can retire and buy a Galaga machine and never need to stress out again. Let’s vacation together on a book tour and get one of those double bikes and splash each other in a water fountain like the cast of Friends. Here’s every free minute I have today, take them, they are all yours. In the immortal words of Chris de Burgh’s famous whisper, ‘I love you.’” (Yeah that’s right, I just referenced the song “Lady in Red.”)
So what am I doing about it? Giving the book and the blog back to God hourly, sometimes even minutely. (I didn’t know “minutely” was a word until about 2 seconds ago, interesting.) I keep letting go of them, over and over again. But it’s hard, because unlike the Harley ad, the blog comes with an air of holiness. “You’re writing about God. Come on, it’s about sweet baby Jesus, don’t you want to be a good steward of your talents and your time. Give in.” And that’s true, but I can still take that good thing and corrupt it. I can still take something well intentioned and pollute it with my ego, my selfishness and my brokenness.
And that’s why idols are so tricky, because even good things like our kids, our marriages, our jobs, our books and blogs, can become idols if we’re not careful.
So what are you idolizing right now?
Am I the only one that wishes every idol was as honest as Harley Davidson?