Some more thoughts on The Joneses


The Joneses is a film that is about a different type of family.  This family is not the traditional type of family.  The family of Steve and Kate and their teenaged children, Mick and Jenn, are actually employees of a company that has several companies that make consumer products as their clients.  The goal of the Jones family is to pretend to be a real family while using the products made by their company’s clients, in hopes that their neighbors will then buy the products that they use in an attempt to “keep up with the Joneses.”

The situational definition of the film is about how the Joneses are advertising products without the knowledge of their neighbors.  Within this factor, there are many potential and actual ethical issues in the film.  First and foremost, the Joneses are simply actors who are modeling products for their family.  Presumably they don’t particularly necessarily care, one way or another, about the products they use, and according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, this is unethical in that they are essentially presenting testimonials about the products, but the testimonials and the opinions that they express are not necessarily the ones that they particularly hold.

Moving on, through making an analysis the film is very heavily focused on the ethical issues of pretending to be family, when in reality one is simply involved with advertising the products of their company’s clients, but in a natural (or rather artificial under the guise of natural) environment.  The Joneses move into a wealthy suburb, and they form relationships with their neighbors.  An ethical issue with that is that if the ruse is exposed, the neighbors will feel hurt at the deception, and they might refuse to buy any of the products as a matter of principle, and so that they are not reminded of the deception that hurt them so very much.  Not to mention the fact, that they will have to go elsewhere to promote their company’s clients’ products.  The entire ordeal violates the code of ethics of the American Association of Advertising Agencies due to the fact that as said above, the Joneses use products and talk about how great they are when in reality, they probably do not necessarily have any type of genuine affinity, if any feelings at all, for the everyday consumer products that they use; if the ruse is exposed, that calls into question the value and quality of the products, and after all, if it is all an act, that this family uses products just to help promote them for their company’s clients, and that they may or may not care for the products, why should the consumer buy them at all.

With regard to my decision, my conclusion is that pretending to be family for the sake of advertising products under the guise of using these products in one’s everyday life is very unethical.  Besides the fact that is  generally wrong to be deceptive, there is also the matter of the company’s corporate values, and the credibility of the products being modeled, being viewed negatively.


Think Piece: The Joneses

I originally wrote this for a class in Communication Ethics.


The Jones is a satirical comedy-drama that calls into question the issues of consumerism and how they affect people.

The film is about the Jones family, Steve and Kate, the parents, and Jenn and Mick, the teenage children, but they are not who they appear to be.  They are actually the employees of a company that makes several household consumer products.  They pretend to be a family that has moved into a wealthy suburb, and they integrate their company’s products in their everyday life.  The goal is that by “modeling” the company’s products in manners that normal people would use them, it would encourage people to buy them.

This is an interesting perspective to say the least.  Some people might feel that advertising does not reflect real life, and that they only depict simulations of the use of consumer products that supposedly never work the way they do during the commercials.  This appears to be an attempt to solve that issue.  However, this leads into the ethical dilemma of deceiving people, and how that would reflect upon the company if the deception were to be discovered.

Other ethical issues include the fact Jenn, who is pretending to be a teenager is having an affair with a married man.  Also, Steve has feelings for Kate, which complicates the job that they have to do together.

Another consequence of our consumer culture is how people constantly are sent the message that their value lies in the stuff they buy.  Their neighbors, Larry and Summer Symonds, are deeply in debt, and the Joneses unintentionally exasperate Larry’s anxiety about their plight.  This culminates in Larry taking his own life.  Steve is devastated, and he feels responsible for Larry’s suicide.  He exposes the entire ruse of the Jones family to the entire neighborhood realizing how dangerous consumerism can be to other people, especially if it is compounded by the fact that people are being deceptive.