I find the layers of meaning in this “Got Milk” commercial to be very interesting.
A recap of the action…
1: Young adults enter a diner and use their physical strength and aggressive impulses to intimidate other patrons.
2: Older men witness this behavior and then begin to taunt the “punks.” As a violent confrontation looms, they guzzle glasses of milk and thus develop “strong bones.”
3: The young men directly confront the older men and a fight ensues.
4: The old men defeat the young men and then flee the scene of the fight.
This is an anti-aging message masquerading as a pro-aging fantasy. The young punks inhabit the stereotype image of aggressive young males and the conventional narrative insists that the old men must cower before them.
Viewers are delighted when they are treated instead to a bit of magical thinking that we have seen many times before.
We all like to watch milk and spinach fueled underdogs triumph against evil but this video clip contains a deeper and unstated fallacy. It suggests that older men can and should respond violently to youthful aggression. Missing from this narrative is the possibility that these older men might have outgrown the illusion that violence (wielded in this case by bizarrely aggressive older men) is the preferred strategy for solving social problems.
Compare the juvenile behavior (and comic book action) that animates the “Got Milk” commercial with the life philosophy of this 84 year old Wing Tzun master. In the clip below the master places the Wing Tzun martial art into a broad social context and he deliberately downplays the value of violence.
The “milk powered” neo-juvenile delinquents in the commercial seem pathetic when they are compared to this elder and his thoughtful embrace of a “way of living” that can improve health and well-being for all.