Sitting in a darkened theater waiting for Apollo 18 to start, a recent innovation begins; it is a commercial for Levi Jeans. A commercial. It used to be that commercials were not shown in theaters. After all one has just paid money to see a movie. But now, not only does one sit through previews of upcoming movies, some more than a year in advance, but we watch the same commercials we see on television. Somehow the $8.50 price of admission is no longer sufficient. Perhaps my mood was less than charitable as I sat there but what I saw fascinated me. On the screen were black and white and various shades of grey images of apparently unhappy young people. One stands before a troubled ocean and seems to try to fly, another has a small marine engine attached to an upside down table which he is piloting to somewhere. Scenes of protest and tear gas, of cover bands with flaming guitars fill the screen while a comforting voice-over intones a dissatisfaction with life. So far the standard fare, but then the voice says, "The gods will offer you chances; know them, take them." The commercial ends with the words Go Forth superimposed on the sea and then the Levi's logo. It's a commercial for jeans. Levi's Jeans.
Levi Strauss was a German immigrant who ended up in San Francisco around the time of the gold rush. He and a business partner patented putting rivets on the jeans they sold to reinforce the weak points and a legend was born. That was more than 120 years ago and Levi's continue to be iconic fashion with a purpose. But somewhere, something seems to have gotten lost. Levi Strauss was a practitioner of Judaism and was active in his synagogue. He contributed to Jewish relief efforts, and orphanages; both Jewish and Christian. As I watched the commercial I wondered what Levi would think of this promotion. Then I wondered what the group obviously being targeted would think. What gods? We may not be a blatantly religious nation as we were in Levi's time, but I don't see young people worshipping pagan gods. None of the young people in the commercial seemed happy but neither did the commercial say they would be by buying Levi's or heeding the command to, "Go Forth." If the viewer recalled any mythology they should remember that the pagan gods frequently subjected humans to unpleasant tests. Based on that the offer of chances does not seem to be attractive to me. Was it out of the question to state that, "God will offer you opportunities."?