I don’t know about your Big Game party (if the NFL is gonna sue anyone who infringes on their trademarked name for the NFL championship game, then I will refrain from even exercising my journalistic right to use it and instead will, forever on, only call it the Big Game), but the most talked about commercial of all the Big Game ads was for NBC’s drama The Slap. Having never heard of the novel by Christos Tsiolkas or the subsequent Australian TV series of the same name, most people watching thought it was joke. In fact, right before the unveiling of the title, someone yelled out in an over dramatic announcer voice – “a new hit show, The Biggest Slap” which cued a laugh and then a collective “whoa” as the the title was unveiled.
After a bit of research (ahem, wikipedia) the book’s plot is revealed:
At a barbecue in suburban Melbourne, a man slaps a three-year-old boy across the face. The child, Hugo, has been misbehaving without any intervention by his parents, “the steely-eyed Rosie and the wimpish Gary”. The slapper is Harry, cousin of the barbecue host and adulterous businessman whose slightly older son, Rocco, is being threatened by Hugo. This event sends the other characters “into a spiral, agonizing and arguing over the notion that striking a child can ever be justified. Some believe a naughty boy should be taught some discipline, others maintain the police ought to be brought in to investigate a common assault” with a range of positions in between.
This appears to be a fascinating and worthwhile exploration into the most primal of human emotions. I’d be curious to learn what the underlying intent is in bringing this kind of character study to mainstream audiences. Considering the influence of pop culture has on mainstream groupthink, what sort of debates will this spark should this American version of the show succeed in it’s attempt at engaging the conversations we’re certain to have. After all, the tagline for the show is “Who’s side are you on?” It’s as if the creators are looking for a culture war.
Here’s the commercial in case you missed it. So which side are you on?