Before I begin, let me say that I have already posted my opinion on this commercial as well as a follow-up to a response to said opinion. Before reading this, to know where I am coming from, I think it would be prudent to read the original opinion I wrote, as well as all the responses, because the following is probably going to be a little bit of a rant. Also, if I end up linking to anybody's comments, please do not take it as an attack on that comment. I am just trying to make a point. If it is a poor example of the point I am trying to make, I'm sure I will hear about it.
I'd like to start off by saying, how many of you who have posted to this story have actually seen the commercial? If you have, wonderful, you have based your opinion on first hand knowledge. If you have not, you are basing your opinion mostly on what other people have wrote, especially vaguely_aware, who wrote the story. I think it should be clear by a question at the end of the story that vaguely_aware posted how s/he interpreted the commercial. The question asks, "Is there an alternate explanation?" This clearly implies that vaguely_aware is posting a personal interpretation of what the commercial is trying to say.
If you have not seen the commercial, please do not attack it or say the meaning of the commercial is clear. (Only one thing is clear, they are trying to sell a product.) I understand that there are probably quite a few people that have not seen the commercial or can not because they do not live in the US (or wherever else it airs). If you have not seen it, you can still voice an opinion, but it as an opinion that should be qualified first, such as, "If x actually did or said y, then z." I have no desire to defend American Express, but when I first saw the commercial, it did not strike me that they were trying to use the term "geek" in a derogatory way.
Some may argue that the term "geek" is always derogatory, especially when used by people who are not considered to be geeks (considered by who, I have no idea). To me, that is a ridiculous argument. Do you know if the commercial was made by geeks or not? Do you know what the creators of the commercial intended? Does it matter what the creators of the commercial intended? If it is always derogatory, why can some people use it without fear of repercussions but some can not?
I have also seen comments trying to compare persecution of geeks to persecution of racial, religious or ethnic groups. Again, to me, a ridiculous comparison. Geek itself is a word that can have many interpretations. Except for a few gray areas and perhaps legal definitions, there is little interpretation involved in whether someone is black, white, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Chinese, Hispanic, etc. You can not compare geeks being persecuted to a race, relegion, sexual orientation, or ethnic group being persecuted.
What, you say? But I was most definitely persecuted in school because of my geekdom!
Get over it. Everybody had bad experiences in school, no matter what social group they belonged to. Some more than others, sure, but this is really starting to piss me off. Some people use the term geek with a negative connotation, some positive. One person called a geek by some people would not be considered a geek by others. I think there are a whole lot of complaints and accusations going on about this commercial and everything "geek" even though much of it is open to interpretation.
I do not use the term geek except in a couple of situations. My wife might walk by while I'm sitting here typing a rant on the computer and say, "You're such a geek." In this case it is most definitely an endearing term. The only time I might term myself a geek is by calling myself a computer geek. To some, who knows, that may be negative. But to me, in two words, it says, "I use computers a lot, I know and understand computers, and I am smart."
To those that might call me a geek for purposes of insulting me, frankly, I could care less. I have been and will be called worse. In high school, I remember a senior holding me off the ground against a brick wall when I was a freshman and trying to make me sing "Happy Birthday" to his friend. Was it because he thought I was a geek? To me, it doesn't really matter unless he was doing it because I was white, black, gay, straight, Jewish, or Catholic. Things like that happen all the time. If I had been a freshman jock, he still probably would have found a reason (actual reason=insecurity?) to do it.
Everybody who's bent out of shape over this commercial, especially certain people whose comments I have seen, give it a rest. If it bothers you that much, write to American Express and complain. I understand everyone's opinion, but there's no need to take it over the top and act like popular culture will soon have geeks in internment camps running their computers and eating gruel. Just submit a comment, make your arguments, tell us why you interpreted the commercial the way you did, and think before trying to compare geeks, whoever they may be, to some other group. In my opinion, the commercial was not trying to depict geeks in a bad way. Even if it was, I don't really care, because their definition of geek does not equal my definition of geek.
End rant. If you made it this far, thanks.