Sunday, November 11, 2007

regression through cheese

a major technique of advertising is humor, and a big strain of humorous advertising is laughing at the way adults become children in their unreasoning craving for a certain product. my god, these ads are all over the place. and they are funny. but isn't one laughing at the fool who is reduced to an infant state for a starburst or some other industrial edible?

just tonight i saw one on tv. it was for subway. a husband and wife and their son were walking by a subway restaurant. the husband saw the poster for the philly cheese steak sandwich and said petulantly, "that sandwich is so cheesy good, gimme one right now, right now!! i want it!" he threw a tantrum. the woman said, "jonathan, please don't act this way." we are still in doubt who this male is. then the little boy breaks it to us by saying, "Dad, come on, act your age." he flails his arms and stamps his feet. the next scene shows the baby/dad pacified, munching satisfiedly on his sandwich, mom/wife looking on with weary knowingness.

i wonder why this type of advertising is so prevalent now. is making people laugh at themselves considered effective? or is it more a sympathetic laughter regarding the (purported) human weakness of greed, turned into a charming foible to be indulged? is there a breaking of taboos in a comic way: its OK to be irrationally attached to a thing. but i think it is also significant that this advertising seems to be used mostly for food. the link is clearly made between regression to childhood and oral fixation -- in the case of the subway ad, the wife turns to responsible mother mediating the baby/husband's pleasure.

bizarre, that's what i say. peurile and pitiful. it might be said to critics like myself: lighten up, its just an ad. i would respond: if lightening up means accepting a debased view of humanity, a humanity captive to greed, i don't think i will lighten up, thank you.

the real push behind this kind of advice -- which is heard all over the culture, a blanket popular condemnation of all sorts of critics as people unable to just relax and get over their bizarre hangups like morality, thought, ideals, and other assorted eccentricities. "lighten up" is just another term for "detach from one's own reactions" to experience. if one can lighten up, detach, let go, deaden one's responses, one can get used to almost anything!

i am put in mind of what my coworker in the kitchen at an assisted living facility said. yesterday she revealed she had danced in a topless club some years back. today i asked her if the experience had changed her view of men. she said she had been able to differentiate the pigs and tyrants and the lonely ones. and she said she had been able to separate herself from what was happening to her as she stood onstage. she shed that "onstage self" once she left the club. i was just addicted to money, she said. and in the process damaged her liver and wrecked the cartilage in her knees, from kneeling down for the men's viewing pleasure.

lighten up enough and all kinds of horrors become acceptable -- such as destroying an independent state through unprovoked invasion. saddam did it to kuwait in 1989. we did it to iraq in 2003. how fast we learn!

oh that melty melty cheese. just focus on cheap bodily thrills (preferably solitary ones like fast food -- less messy than sex) and tune out that big bad world. regress! and enjoy!

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