This is fun—Mark Mitchell analyzes a Sprint television commercial:
While it might be a mistake to make too much of an ad, it seems appropriate to “read” them as representing the current cultural vibe, for if nothing else, advertisers are keen students of what motivates their audiences. So what, then, does this ad tell us about ourselves? . . . “I have the right to be unlimited.” In our cultural moment, the idea of limits is an offense. Limits suggest that my desires can be thwarted or perhaps even that my desires should be thwarted. But who has a right to do that? By what authority—social, natural, or divine—can my desires be hemmed in, circumvented, and directed? If the miraculous can be delivered to us through technological innovation, there is little reason to believe that the miraculous itself is limited or even beyond human control.
Yes, yes, it’s just a thirty second spot, and not to seem like an English professor who’s made a career out of deconstructing the psychological subconsciousness of Victorian nursery rhymes, but there is something uncanny about this, and I think Mitchell is on to it.
He may be a bit off on the nod to the “miraculous” at the beginning—it seems more a way of getting audiences’ attention with a kind of religious invocation of awe (Hopkins’ “grandeur of God” meets Whitman’s “democratic vistas”?), and not simply bedazzlement by technology. But the overall tone and message—whether consciously finessed by a marketing department or the result of an ambient regurgitation of our popular discourse—does seem very at home amid claims of individual liberation as government-enforced right. As does the puzzling desire to “upload all of me.”