In 2019, I blogged about striving to be more inclusive during the Noël Commercial Madness. A colleague pointed out that the whole commercial madness season was centering on Christmas, a holiday not everyone celebrates. So how can you be inclusive if you are centering on Christmas?
Good point. As someone who did not celebrate Christmas growing up, I don’t want Commercial Madness centering on Christmas. It want it to center on heartwarming or comical stories. For example, the Amazon commercial focuses on perseverance and community support during the pandemic, while the Allegro commercial focuses on an elderly person learning English in order to communicate with his grand daughter. However, Commercial Madness certainly has Christmas as an omnipresent backdrop. Not every student will see themselves in this backdrop. So, this comment pushed me to think even further (we are all on a journey).
I started anonymously polling my students, asking them what end of year celebration they celebrate and how they would feel if I were to use Christmas/Holiday commercials to tell stories. If just one of my students answers “I would feel excluded”, I will not run any Commercial Madness:
Personally, what bothers me more with Commercial Madness is that it tends to only feature white body-abled heterosexual characters. That is because it heavily relies on French ads, which have a long way to go in terms of representation. That’s the reason why I recommended dropping French ads and seeking American or British ads that are definitely more diverse.
For Commercial Madness, I have handpicked 10 commercials that represent the beautiful diversity of our world, including one Hannukah and one Diwali commercial (Thank you Genna Kass for mining these two!).
I am sharing my list here together with some suggested tasks & activities. Some of these activities come from the amazingly creative Dustin Williamson. This list is by no mean perfect, nor does it represent everyone, but it strives to provide more mirrors, windows, and sliding doors for all my students.
Happy Commercial Madness season!
image credit: screenshot from Amazon 2020 The Show Must Go On