One day I was walking along Queen St. in Toronto minding my lmnop’s and then it hit me – a billboard with the most outlandish call to action I’d ever seen. It was an avalanche of nonsense that ground my 7.5 feet to a halt. (Sometimes I wear 8 but that’s uje with an orthotic… sex-eh!)
The billboard’s message:
Rock a cradle in Afghanistan, from the comfort of your couch.
Oh no you didn’t! I thought I’d seen every patronizing first world campaign to help the third world. Or is it the second world? Or who the fuck is even coming up with all these worlds? Aren’t we one world?
I couldn’t even comprehend this cockamamie proposition at first. Who were these people offering such an amusement to the privileged classes? Affording us the remote opportunity to help Afghani children by sitting on our asses? Man I just rhymed. But let’s be honest getting up to help people is so 2000′s so good for them.
I did a little online investigaish and discovered the perpetrators to be an organization called Surrogaid. Their claim:
The revolutionary new way to donate motherhood online.
Founder Eric Ash started this venture by asking the question: How do we bring the strength and stability of motherhood to children in war-affected areas? From there a new technology was born which are three remotely operated robots: Dorothy, Barbara and Susan. Very popular mom names in the Stan!
Meet balding white Susan!
She seems nice enough but what can these techno mammasitas do for you? According to Surrogaid they can:
Make a casserole.
Hug a child.
Lull a child to sleep.
I know. Get outta here right? When I first read this all I envisioned was a robot rising up from the battlefield with arms wide open, attempting to lock down an embrace and children losing their shit everywhere… literally shitting themselves!
I thought the website would provide some clarificaish but it was more of the same hokey pokey pinocch-ey. I wanted to get down to the brass tacks, the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts, the kibbles n’ bits of the how Dot, Barb and Suse were gonna really hug a child, lull them to sleep, make a casserole and still look gorgeous when their robros or robras came home from work? But the more I combed through Surrogaid’s website the more perplexed I became. You’ll see why.
First off, if you’re looking to just hug a child, SUSAN-MK3′s remote operated prosthetic arm will “reach halfway across the world to bring the warm embrace of motherhood to children who need it most.” Like the Canadarm? One long motha fuckin arm launching into the stratosphere and then reaching into Afghanistan to wrap its tentacles around an already traumatized child. Yikes. Sounds apocalyptic. But I still don’t get it! How are these robots really helping? Or are they just a virtual smokescreen?
If you want to lull a child to sleep from the comfort of your couch you just click and drag BARBARA-MK2′s patented robotic arm to remotely rock the cradle of a crying baby. Spooksville! The upside is when you’re dragging Barbara’s arm with your one hand you can still eat Smartfood with the other. I’m doing it right now. The downside is my keyboard is caked with Smartfood schmutz. What are you gonna do.
Meet Barbara’s arm! Check out that hook.
Now for my favourite part… making a casserole. I wanna know how you can make a casserole sitting in your living room for someone half way across the world? Cause you can’t even prepare a casserole for your own family in your living room unless you’re trying to be ironic or you’re schizophrenic.
Using her internet-connected food spouts, DOROTHY-MK5 will do the work for you. All you have to do is choose the starch, protein, vegetable and simulated flavour topping and just like that you can, “fill a child’s empty stomach with just six simple clicks.” You get to watch the dried up ingredients pour out of Dot and into an aluminum foil pan. The convenience factor is huge. No messy clean-up. No screaming child to listen to complain about the disaster you just prepared. No guilt.
Meet 4 titted Dorothy!
My casserole included basmati rice, chinese broccoli, corned beef and ketchup topping. Ewwww. That’s gross. ClearIy I’m not a good virtual cook. But the choices were limiting and heck I only have so much time to donate motherhood online. I haven’t even donated motherhood for real. I got places to be guy!
Once you’ve made your online casserole, you click Send. And while the internet wheel spins like the wheel of fortune, the following message pops up: Locating families in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Middle East.
Then it takes you directly to a donation page for War Child – a Toronto based charity that helps to provide access to education, opportunity and justice to children in war-affected communities. Now this of course is very important work. I for one want every child to have the opportunity to grow, flourish and reach new heights and War Child is making that happen. They’re hard at work right now in Za’atari which is the largest refugee camp in the Middle East and the second largest in the world helping the 2 million Syrian child refugees that have been displaced by the war since 2011.
So if this is where they wanted us to get to in the first place then what was with the whole robot simulated game off the top? I’m so confused and disheartened. Are they asking me to help kids or play a game of robot tag?
We are the midst of one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time and it’s being trivialized by Surrogaid’s ad campaign to appeal to our inherent laziness and malaise. Not to mention propagating the idea that caring for children lies solely in the domain of motherhood. What about the fathers? Don’t they care too?
I know me cutting up an ad that’s trying to help children in war torn areas might seem even more trivial than Surrogaid’s convoluted attempt at social justice for the most vulnerable but it highlights something about our society. That because we live in a media saturated environment ad agencies believe the only way they can appeal to our goodwill is by making it easy for us, comfortable even. That the only thing we have to do is click and drag a robot’s appendages and bam we’ve saved the world.
Now go ahead and make a casserole for god’s sake. It could change your life.