Curmudgeon Alert: This Ad Is Just TOO FAKE

Readers — One of you sent me this ad with a nice note about how Free-Range it is. So why is my finger lodged halfway down my throat?

Because it reeks of fake. Because it screams “Faaaaaaaaaaaake!” Because it IS fake. It’s fake like the movies about the ’60s that show tie dyed shirts in way brighter colors than were around back then.  Fake like the movies about the Depression where you can tell some film studies intern painstakingly created the holes in the sharecropper’s overalls.

I DO want kids to play with boxes, to build things together, to hang out outside. I DO want parents to look for neighborhoods where kids Free-Range. But when this ideal looks about as realistic as a Martian picnic, and even THEN it can’t show the kids anywhere but safe in a backyard, I despair. Maybe it’s just been a long week on my end, but I’m wondering if anyone else has this reaction. Or maybe it’s time for my Curmudge-apy (curmudgeon therapy). – L

, , , , , ,

65 Responses to Curmudgeon Alert: This Ad Is Just TOO FAKE

  1. SKL May 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Well, it is kind of a dumb ad, but what really made me gag was how shiny the spotless kitchen was. LOL. And also, when we were kids we never would have done that on our front lawn. We would have done it on some other block, probably some construction site or in a grove of trees, and our parents wouldn’t be smiling proudly out the window at us. And someone would have been picking a fight or bullying the little kids or something.

    I recently bought my kids the Little Rascals series DVDs – what I used to watch when I got home from school as a kid. Those kids appear to be free range too, and it’s totally fake too, but my kids don’t know that. 😛 It has given them all kinds of awful ideas, and I love it. They go outside and trash my yard in the process of creating “secret” hideouts etc. Sad to say, with no other kids in the neighborhood, they don’t come up with a lot of truly creative outdoor adventures on their own.

  2. pentamom May 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I don’t think it would bother me the way it bothers Lenore, but I get the “fake” part.

    But of course, it’s a commercial. It’s not going for verisimilitude. It’s trying to get you to associate “happy kids, happy home” with buying stuff at HH Gregg.

  3. railmeat May 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Fake as all get out? check
    Emotionally manipulative? check

    But lets dig a bit deeper here. Lenore, you and others are beginning to move the needle. This add was created at considerable expense to sell stuff, and it used a Freerange sketch to do it.

    On the balance, I was pretty pleased to see it. Other folks will too, and soon, maybe, being freerange won’t be a counter movement. This is the kind of thing that will help it move mainstream.

  4. anonymous this time May 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Yeah, at least the kids were *oustide* while the parents were *inside.”

    For me, it is a sad, sad commentary equating the purchase of a major new appliance with kids being encouraged to play creatively (large cardboard box = finally permitted to play outside with other kids without grownups around).

    What the girl says at the end is, “We need another refrigerator.” Grownups think this is cute, since kids really just want the box, not the appliance, but see no other way to access the kind of free-form play experience besides taking delivery of more goods.

    My daughter would LOVE this ad. It would be like porn for her. She would love to have that happen in our neighbourhood. But the families around here are not taking delivery of brand-new appliances, all on the same sunny Saturday afternoon, I guess.

  5. NancyCurmugeon May 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Yup, fake, right down to the stars some adult has painted on the side of the box. I would guess the people who made this don’t have kids.

  6. Gina May 9, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Love what Lenore says about “movies about the ’60s that show tie dyed shirts in way brighter colors than were around back then” of my hugest Pet Peeves!

  7. Mike w May 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    All commercials are FAKE. But at least the fake they portray are happy kids from all over the neighborhood playing more or less on their own. Kids were walking and big wheeling around the neighborhood sans supervision. A bunch of kids and no parents other than mom and dad with the new fridge inside.

    It is a great commercial and the only way society will change is if people begin to think this kind of thing is normal, whether or not they have kids. I hope the company finds the commercial is successful and we see more of it on the tube. Maybe during CSI Wherever to balance things out.

  8. Sarah in WA May 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    So what do you tell your kids when you order appliances and they arrive not in boxes but in shrink wrap on a pallet? “Sorry, no creativity today, kids.”? Large cardboard boxes are actually incredibly rare now.

    I do get tired of the idealized creativity supposedly done by children, too. Real kid art does not look like this. Nor should it. The products of real kids’ imaginations are actually so much better.

  9. ifsogirl May 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Honestly this would happen in my front yard. I have a stack on boxes, still not broken down, that the kids can grab whenever they want. They take a few outside and start to draw and cut and play. Usually other kids end up coming over to join them. Some of them even bring their own crafty supplies.

    Now all our boxes are pretty much regular sized, no appliance buying here, and doors and windows look way worse, even when a grown up is asked to help. And as we live on the rainy west coast of Canada they don’t last long before they need to be recycled.

    But I don’t see how letting kids converge at one persons house isn’t free range. No adults at out there, and growing up we always played at a friends yard. And I don’t know about you bit I love to watch the kids from the window from time to time and see what they’ve come up with.

  10. SKL May 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    What always bugged me about commercials is how everyone is always smiling and getting along so rosily. Blah. But that is not a free range issue. 😉

    Man, every commercial I saw as a kid had this perfect white family with one boy and one girl, sitting around the table which was set with napkins, flowers, and the milk in a glass jug (really?), smiling and nodding at each other as they politely chewed their delicious food with their mouths closed. Shudder! I wish we had video of our real life dinners at home – usually someone’s fork was poised to stab the hand of the sibling who was hoping to swipe the yummy stuff, someone was falling asleep in her mashed potatoes, and everyone else was arguing about who was going to clean what after dinner. And the milk was in a cardboard carton. Again, totally not free-range related….

  11. Derek M May 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    I think you’re getting a bit curmudgeony after a bad week. Yes, this is fairly obviously fake, but so are all commercials. The fact that this is at least portraying a normal childhood is a good thing. The more people that see it, the more will hopefully be influenced by it. It’s a step in the right direction.

  12. Emily May 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    >>But I don’t see how letting kids converge at one persons house isn’t free range. No adults at out there, and growing up we always played at a friends yard.<<

    Yes, exactly. It doesn't show ALL the kids "safe in the backyard," because there are so many kids, they couldn't possibly all be siblings, and the commercial also showed several kids walking over to that house (and one girl on her Big Wheel) with boxes in tow. It's still Free-Range; they just happened to meet in someone's backyard. Vacant lots and construction sites are a bit hard to come by these days.

  13. Powers May 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    You’re looking for authenticity from a commercial? Just take the message as a positive one and leave them alone!

  14. Yocheved May 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    {{{ hugs }}}

    Try to look on the bright side. At least they’re trying, and it was SOOOO close to getting it right. Really, the only thing I’d change is to get rid of the shots of the parents looking out the window every five seconds. Don’t they have more unpacking to do? They should take advantage of the free time to get stuff done!

  15. David Pimentel May 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    I agree with railmeat. This represents a huge step forward. Now the overly idealized life depicted in commercials includes kids engaged in self-directed outdoor play, without direct parental supervision. If Madison Avenue wants to idealize that, I say, great! (Perhaps it was inspired by Caine’s Arcade?

  16. QuicoT May 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    I think if Lenore reads railmeat’s post after a good night’s rest, she’ll agree there’s something to that…

  17. lollipoplover May 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    The pessimist in me wonders when the older woman looking out her window at kids *unattended* dragging boxes through the streets will dial 911 for suspicious behavior or CPS for child neglect. And no kids can make that fairy tale structure out of boxes- it would look more like shantytown.

    The optimist in me(and I hang on desperately to this side) knows that cardboard boxes and kids are a wonderful combination for free play with no parents dictation how to do it. Older kids and younger siblings playing harmoniously, how sweet! And that no kitchen will ever, EVER be that clean in real life which is why this is a commercial and those kids are going to smudge the crap out of that stainless steel fridge with their grimey little paws.

  18. SJH May 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Yes, it’s fake. And yes, the kids are playing in a “safe” back yard. But the ad also showed kids trekking alone down streets, hauling boxes down alleys, etc., without any adult supervision. (I also liked the clip of the elderly lady watching all this activity from her window because a) she didn’t call CPS and b) it’s a subtle reminder about community– the entire neighborhood can help keep an eye on our kids, without interfering with their fun.)
    To me, the most gag-worthy part was the mother who had nothing bigger on her agenda than polishing an already spotless stove with a dish towel! 😉

  19. Papilio May 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    0:26 Isn’t hammering nails into cardboard completely pointless?? That alone shows it’s fake…

    @Lenore: “So why is my finger lodged halfway down my throat?” Calm down! I suggest you have a cookie instead 😀

  20. Michelle May 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Take a deep breath. It’s a commercial — commercials are NEVER realistic. Even when they portray families that aren’t 50’s sitcom picture-perfect, they instead have exaggerated flaws for comic effect (like the hapless dad, or the totally out-of-control kids).

    At least “ideal” in this commercial includes kids having fun on their own.

  21. Jenn May 9, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    I say relax and step back. It’s a commercial, it’s going to be a tad fake. That is what commercials are, the storybook version. Let’s look at the positives. These kids are all free-ranging…obviously unsupervised, traveling the neighborhood. The old lady looks out and notices them. I for one like to know my neighbors are looking out for my kids when they are out and about. I don’t think the parents look out on the kids, they don’t even look out until the end, the mom is busy admiring her shiny new kitchen. That is the point of the commercial, the adults’ new home and the kids’ new “home”. I am never offended by kids playing in a yard, as a kid we ran from yard to yard, and my 5 year old does it now with the neighbor kids. You never really know which yard they are in unless you go looking, because they are always on the move. I have watched it three times, and the kids appear to be in a park type setting, anyway, not a yard. Look closely. Also, I am not convinced they look out at the kids at the end. I think the the adults are just admiring their new yard/home when they look out, and if that is the case kudos to them, for letting their kid run the new ‘hood with her new friends!

  22. Darreby May 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    Remember that old phrase about not letting the Perfect be the enemy of the Good. This was good – a sweet ad featuring kids being creative. If we Free Rangers get a reputation for insisting every last detail be perfectly free range – in a commercial, no less? – then people will (legitimately) tune us out.

  23. Emily May 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    @Yocheved–I don’t think the parents are looking out the window in a “supervisory” capacity, but rather, they’re seeing the pure, unadulterated joy that the kids get out of their cardboard box castle, and they’re thinking back to those days when they were kids, and holding onto that feeling now, as they begin a new life in their new house, with the same joy in their hearts that they felt when they were kids building cardboard box castles in their backyards.

  24. caveat May 10, 2014 at 1:58 am #

    I think you can turn down the “curmudgeonometer” Lenore. Sure it is a bit gag-worthy as are most idealized portrayals of family and children. But it is a victory of sorts that “free-rangish” images are being portrayed as an ideal rather than as a dangerous abberation from the expected hyper-vigilance!

  25. sam d May 10, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    I agree that it’s fake, but it’s commercial fake. I live in that neighborhood… Okay not literally. But I can totally see my son and his free range friends doing this this Summer. 2 blocks of kids ages 6-13 play together in 2 of the largest backyards almost every day…the great news is that it does happen…free range is real in some small towns like ours 🙂 I had to chuckle about the clean kitchen comment…if my kitchen were ever that clean, it means I’ve died and a cleaning crew had come to my house.

  26. MichaelF May 10, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Well unless you actually buy an appliance these days where are kids going to get the huge boxes to play with? Considering most stores deliver, and then do so on a pallet so no box, I don’t really see this happening.

    That back yard was HUGE! It made me think the house was on the edge of a huge park, though I was glad to see the kids from the neighborhood converging, but even on a park I don’t think I have ever seen even half that many kids just going about their own business. Be nice to see though

  27. Emily May 10, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    >>0:26 Isn’t hammering nails into cardboard completely pointless?? That alone shows it’s fake…<<

    I think the little girl is just pretending with a plastic hammer. In any case, WE all know that hammering nails into cardboard is pointless, but a young child might not, and that's how you learn these things, by trial and error, which is an inherently Free Range concept in and of itself.

  28. Linda May 10, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Lenore, I think you are indeed being too harsh and too curmudgeonly!

    As other have pointed out, this is at its heart an ad to sell appliances, and it’s going to have certain characteristics because of that.

    Some thoughts:

    – If the cardboard box castle weren’t visible from the the kitchen window, it would be hard to tie it into the source of the boxes, i.e. appliance sales (which is, after all, where the money is in this equation).

    – Even though the structure was built in one family’s spacious back yard, we see many children transporting their own boxes from all over the place, by a variety of means, none of which seem to include adult intervention or presence.

    – No adults seem to be involved in the construction, or actually present at all. The adults who live there seem a little surprised at the crowd. The kids are using tools and everything.

    – The kitchen is pristine because the whole room was *just* remodeled, or perhaps the whole house was just built — that’s why they have so many appliance boxes available in the first place.

    While it does seem fake and contrived and too-perfect, you have to consider that this is a too-perfect goal that presumably some people are striving toward (just like we all wish that our tie-dyes were a bit brighter). If people really are striving toward multi-aged kids coming together and using tools and building crazy structures out of cast off boxes, while most parents aren’t even there, but the ones who are seem pleased rather than horrified, then more power to ’em, I say.

    I think it would be fair to pick it apart if it were a film whose purpose were to promote free-range-ness. As a cute setting for an appliance ad, I think it’s pretty great.

  29. Jen (P.) May 10, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    I wonder if somewhere on some parenting safety blog people are complaining about this ad and those unsupervised children, riding big wheels in the street with no helmet, sneaking through alleys, and that older lady who saw them and didn’t even call CPS. 😀

  30. Emily May 10, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    >>I wonder if somewhere on some parenting safety blog people are complaining about this ad and those unsupervised children, riding big wheels in the street with no helmet, sneaking through alleys, and that older lady who saw them and didn’t even call CPS. 😀 <<

    Come to think of it, me too. At this point, it's getting so that "CPS" might as well stand for "Childhood Prevention Squad."

  31. Ka May 10, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    The kitchen is clean because the kids are outside

  32. SKL May 10, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Jen P, I was thinking the same thing. Like every time there is a commercial involving a kid in a car, someone has to make a stink about the car seat straps not being positioned exactly the right way. You know someone is out there making a list right now.

    *Kids walking in the street:
    **No parent present
    **Not at a stop light or cross walk
    **Improper head gear preventing clear line of vision

    *Kids unsupervised up and down the street
    *Kids walking on hard sidewalk with obstructed vision
    *Kids going out of parents’ sight
    *Kids in proximity of dog without adult supervision
    *Kids together in a hideout – they could play Truth or Dare in there!
    *Kids using tools etc. etc.
    *Toddlers/preschoolers being supervised by children who are not old enough to be babysitters
    *No apparent source of constant hydration. Use of sunscreen is uncertain.
    *Not wearing protective headgear on a construction site.

    These are just the ones that come to mind quickly without re-viewing the video.

  33. J- May 10, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    It has to be fake. If it were a real video, the county surveyor show up with a SWAT team to arrest these kids for building without a permit.

  34. Bernard May 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    This as reminds me of those which promote children saying scripted “adult” lines and considering that cute. . . An “adult designed” castle built by kids?

    As I am already known on the net as a proverbial curmudgeon. . . Gag!

  35. Bernard May 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    This as reminds me of those which promote children saying scripted “adult” lines and considering that cute. . . And now an “adult designed” castle built by kids? How insulting to creative children!

    As I am already known on the net as a proverbial curmudgeon. . . I join you : Gag!

  36. Amy May 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    At my house, they’d be running in and out, tracking mud all over (they’d find some) asking for tools and glue. Their faces would be dirty and their clothes would not match. And my kitchen has NEVER been that shiny. My husband would probably be gone, working overtime. But my life is not a commercial, either, although it is a good life, with a house full of kids. I think it’s a cute (fake) ad.

  37. Heather May 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Because it’s just another jerk trying to use your children to get money off of you. I can’t move for all the touching moments I could have with my kids if I would just spend more money that I don’t have. And the kid saying we need a new refrigerator is an irritating reminder of how my kids are constantly asking for stuff I can’t afford to buy them because they saw it on effing tv.

  38. Reziac May 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    My only problem with it is that it shows a couple dozen kids all getting along perfectly and agreeing on how to build this rather large project, with art on the walls and everything. No! I want my boxes how *I* want them, dammit! not how some other dumbass kid wants them. 😀

    Oh, and they all have an attitude that this is purely fun. No, when kids play creatively, it’s often deadly serious — because they’re engaging their brains, to make something out of nothing.

    And kids dressed a little too spiffy for playing outside in the dirt. That is what your dirty hole-in-the-knees clothes are for. 🙂

    Did you notice the kids wandering around and salvaging (out of the alleys, cuz that’s where you find discarded boxes) all on their own? Towing a huge box with a bike, OMG what if it tipped over? The little kid hauling a box tipped over herself (so she could only see the ground under her feet), OMG what if she ran into something and bumped her nose? Nope, none of these OMGs happened today.

    I remember dragging home big boxes, cuz they were a FIND. “Where did that big box come from?” some adult might ask. “Sears,” was the answer… no problem that Sears was two miles and several busy main-drag streets away. (Okay, so it was probably Monkey Wards, but most folks today wouldn’t remember that.)

    As to the shiny spiffy spotless kitchen, my mom’s kitchen actually looks like that (it’s a family trait on that side). It’s unnatural!! 😀

    Oh, and remember to put the box in the trash when you’re done playing with it. Or what’s left of the box after it’s been played to destruction.

    My earliest memory of play involved a cardboard barn and a cardboard house. Prefab (as much as anything was in 1958) but still it was nothing but a big box with some crude decorations and doors cut into it. These were my favorite outdoor toys, at least before I discovered the bicycle.

  39. Floyd Stearns May 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    One Winter when I was about 13, we took a large box that our neighbor’s refrigerator came in and we used it to slide down a hill. We’d get inside and slid “blind” not knowing what we’d run into. It was a blast! This commercial is just too cute and clean.

  40. Gretchen May 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    I miss the days when commercials were realistic, and didn’t try to sell stuff by appealing to idealized notions of wholesome authenticity 😉

  41. Edward May 10, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Ok, Lenore, take a deep breath – let it out slow – and here’s some more of those hug thingies from a reply above.
    {{{{{ }}}}}.

    The post just before this one is about a woman who writes and publishes articles I used to only see on FRK. It’s wonderful to see these topics expressed in other places by other people and that’s pretty much how I see this ad.
    The cynical adults see the fakery in the little girls line; “Mom, we need another REFRIDGERATOR” not “Mom, we need SOME MORE BOXES”.
    Advertisements by definition and certain criteria are fake.
    But it depicts some aspects of Free Range Kids in another venue, so to speak, and in that way I think it’s a good idea.

    I would be curious to know what a kid thinks of this ad if asked to watch it and not told anything about it beforehand.
    Somebody needs to by something or “Hey, can I build a house with boxes outside with my friends?”
    Avenues of change aren’t always straight lines.

    And by the way, I just realized what tomorrow is so Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms.

  42. SaneMomof2 May 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I like the commercial. I’d love to see my kids running down the street to play. We RARELY have kids outside to play in our ‘hood so…. I look at it as more of a “show” of how things SHOULD be instead of how they are. A little fakeness I fine when it’s sending a nice message (the whole buy our appliances message aside).

  43. Jenna K. May 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    This commercial doesn’t bother me at all, even if it is a backyard, which I’m not sure it is. It looked like a “common area” that you see popping up in neighborhoods these days. A house we looked at a few years ago was in a neighborhood where there were no backyards. All the houses were built around the block facing out and they all shared a common area backyard, like a big park in the middle–no fences, just a big yard that everyone shared. We couldn’t figure out how it would work with our dog, who needs to be fenced in or he gets out and gets lost, so we didn’t buy that house, but it’s a fairly common thing to see around here. That is what it looked like to me. Whether or not that concept is free range, I guess that could be an arguing point.

  44. EricS May 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    Back when I was a kid, that sort of thing happened down by the neighborhood kids’ communal creek, not a neighbor’s backyard. But it is still better than the “Watch Out!” commercials.

  45. EricS May 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    I was cool with it, thinking they were all going down to some creek, or in the woods. Was disappointed it turned out to be someone’s backyard. But it’s still a step in the right direction.

  46. Ann May 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Jeez, all commercial scenarios are fake. I think it’s cute. What I hate are ads which depict kids as grumpy and sitting on the couch all staring at their iphones, rolling their eyes at their parents. THOSE are fake, as the kids I know are not like that. And for what it’s worth, when I was 6 back in the 1970s I took the box my parents’ new stove came in and created a clubhouse out of it. Right on the back porch, not in some alley far away. And yes, I remember my mom poking her head in and smiling at me as I worked on it, while she was busy working in the kitchen attached to the porch. How I loved that box!

  47. BL May 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    As others have already pointed out, all commercials are fake.

    But this one is fake in our favor.

  48. lollipoplover May 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    I actually enjoy this commercial after watching it again.
    I’ve said this before (probably too many times) but kids playing and laughing freely outside is always a good sight, even in an artificially sweetened commercial.

    But my most hated commercial that makes me want to put hot forks in my eyes is the one for Snackeez. Because instead of teaching kids to eat food in the kitchen carefully, we arm the entire family with individual feed bags.

    “Kids gaming can be a disaster.”
    Yes, if my bratty kid spilled red soda (Tahitian Treat?) on my white carpet he’d be dragged by his ear to the cleaning supplies to blot and treat the stain and never given anything but water. Not a sippy cup/snack combo pack for the ever hungry child.

  49. pentamom May 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    LOL Whoever came up with that Snackeez commercial has either never seen Wall-E or has no sense of irony. I expected to see “brought to you by BuyNLarge” at the end.

    And does that “late night infomercial” aesthetic really sell stuff? I guess it must work, or it would go out of style.

  50. Marcia May 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    It’s an ad. It has to show shiny happy people or else everyone else won’t buy the product. It’s fake.

    We can take from it the good parts! Throw some boxes and paint at the kids! Use it as a springboard for ideas. Maybe help them out when they get stuck. It is so much fun!

  51. Jen (P.) May 10, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    @Pentamom – Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see something that reminds me of Wall-E. It’s become sort of a rallying cry with my teenager when I think she’s spending too much time plugged into a laptop or iPad in her room – “Get out of there before you turn into one of those blob people in Wall-E!” Pretty effective, actually.

  52. Kay May 10, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    It’s fake cause they didn’t show the cops showing up who were called by neighbors concerned about unsupervised kids. Plus they were building without a permit, next door neighbor is mad and wants it torn down.

  53. anonymous this time May 11, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    Emily said: At this point, it’s getting so that “CPS” might as well stand for “Childhood Prevention Squad.”

    LOVE IT. Too true.

  54. Emily May 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    1. I never thought I’d saw a blog of Free-Rangers quibbling over whether or not a commercial showing kids playing outside together, and collaborating on a creative project, was a good thing.

    2. The Coca-Cola commercial is completely fake as well.

    3. I’d actually buy a Snackeez cup if such a thing were available here in Canada. I wouldn’t use it to eat constantly, but for breakfast on the go, it’s not a bad idea–smoothie in the bottom compartment, trail mix or almonds on top. Also, a child spilling a coloured drink on a white carpet isn’t “bratty” behaviour–it’s accidental. Kids have accidents, and I’ll never understand why people with kids buy white furniture, or install white carpeting, or buy houses with white carpeting already installed, and don’t bother to get it Scotch-guarded. Yes, kids should be taught to be careful, but that lesson is a process, and white carpet is unlikely to STAY white throughout that process.

  55. JP Merzetti May 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Sure – as an ad it’s playing on certain emotions (as ads will.)
    But I think beyond the responses – what it causes for me is that same old deep-down gnawing yank at the innards….that makes me breathe that gawdawful sigh of relief that I grew up in a time when all this stuff just happened natural. There were no film crews around back then to ‘capture’ our activities.

    If you care a whole lot about kids, and you care a whole lot about freedom – then you want to put the two together. To me, that’s a natural response.

    And sometimes….it’s not so much head-stuff, you know? Sometimes…’s a whole lot more heart stuff.
    So when an ad like this shows up to “tease” the crap out of us, and our natural responses – maybe it sprinkles a little too much salt into the wound.

    We have gone so way far beyond being able to apply a quick-fix. Knowing that so many kids will never benefit from the freedom of what used to be a ‘normal’ childhood.
    And that’s a sad thing.
    It always made me ask what was (for me) an obvious question: If we’ve come so far in our evolutionary journey, then how come kids don’t benefit too? Have we, as a nation of adults, made our world more “adult pleasurable” but somehow, left the kids behind? Where did their “pleasure” go?

  56. hineata May 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Time for a holiday, Lenore :-). I agree with others, it’s rather cute.

    Though speaking of curmudgeon-like behaviour, I couldn’t get past the token black kid – reminded of that great scene in ‘Teen Movie’ where two black kids come across each other in the kitchen at a party, and one reminds the other that he can’t be in this movie, because the first one is the token black dude in this flick. :-). And while we’re at it, where are the other minority kids and the kid with a disability?

    And yes, I am joking :-). Like others, I think the whole thing would have been made more ‘realisitic’ with a few kids either smacking each other over, or stomping off home in a rage because someone else didn’t like their ideas….but overall, very cute!

  57. Dee May 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    It’s a commercial! Of course it’s fake. I’ve yet to see a commercial film a “real” moment. But I like the message, so I’m perfectly fine with it.

    It reminds me of Caine’s Arcade, which is real and is totally wonderful. Not exactly free range, since Caine had to create his arcade in his dad’s shop since it was in sketchy neighborhood, but it was all kid-built.

  58. Ramona May 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    OK Lenore, you’re going off the deep end. What DO you do when your kids want to stay in your back yard and play? Run out there shouting, “You can’t play back here! You’re not ranging free enough! Go out and run around the block where I can’t see you!!!!” Lol.

  59. Sandi May 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Well, it’s an ad so of course it’s fake. BUT, I like it anyway. I think it’s cute.

  60. Maggie in VA May 12, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Agree with pp’s about the fakeness, but would only find it more annoying than advertising as usual if viewed through the lens of free range advocacy. Personally, it would never have occurred to me to think of this as an example of free-range kids playing.

  61. Red May 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Watching it closely, I actually don’t think that we are supposed to see the castle-building taking place in a “safe” backyard. It appears it is actually taking place in a open park which the parents can see from the house.

    I do actually find it vaguely realistic, but that may be because something similar happened this weekend in my neighborhood and all the kids were involved to some degree. It wasn’t a cardboard castle though … it was a chalk castle, drawn across an entire cul-de-sac street and out onto the street of the main road. The kids actually coordinated quite well to do the drawing on the main road area–some of the kids watched for cars while other kids drew. And yea, I watched glanced out the front window at them, and walked the dog around them a few times to see what they were doing.

  62. ifsogirl May 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Just another thought. This commercial is considwrwd too fake but everyone raved about the Goldie Blox ad on YouTube. No way in hell kids that young built an apparatus of that size without adult help. But it was considered a good model showing girls enjoying engeniering, in their spiffy and spotless outfits of course.

  63. Red May 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Ok, I went out to try to get pictures, and I was slightly wrong (and unfortunately, the chalk on asphalt isn’t showing up too well in my pictures given the current light conditions). There are several “castle” type outlines on the cul-de-sac, but what is drawn on the main road is the “family fun center” which apparently involves a running track, football field, and playground, a group of small house outlines, and some things I think are supposed to be cafes or restaurants. There are hand-drawn sidewalks connecting all the various parts of the chalk neighborhood.

    Sadly, there have been a bunch of heavy construction type trucks in and out today (we have multiple new homes under construction just down our street) so a lot of the chalk is already worn away. Well, they can always redraw it this afternoon 😉

  64. Papilio May 13, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    @JP Merzetti: Well, first of all there’s that stereotype about the USA: if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re screwed.
    Second (taking freedom more literally): car culture, for decades now.
    So it seems totally logical to me that the able-bodied adults with a car get all the fun.

    Which is part of the reason why I keep nagging that you should build high-quality cycling infrastructure.

  65. Kayla May 19, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Yes WAY fake! However think about how you need to make free range normalized and mainstream before it becomes Normal again. If this is correct then this publicity is a great start =D