Archive for March, 2003

Evil Microsoft Butterfly

I have a huge problem with one of those MSN ads that feature the big, stupid butterfly. The one I’m talking about is the one where the mom and her two children are walking down the street and the butterfly is running ahead and “protecting” the children. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a brief run-down of what happens:

The butterfly turns down “offensive” music.

The butterfly covers up a “lewd” image.

The butterfly knocks over a card game of “ill-repute.”

The commercial touts the butterfly as a hero for “protecting” the children from the ills of society. While this may be true, the butterfly is actually doing a significant amount of damage to these poor children. In shielding them from the world, the butterfly is disillusioning the kids. They will grow up thinking the world is something it’s not. When the time comes for the children to come out from under the wing of the over-protective butterfly, they will find themselves lost in a world of cheating, lying, sex, drugs, et cetera. The butterfly will not be able to hide the truth from these kids forever, and prolonging their discovery of the facts of life will only serve to embarrass them and incapacitate them mentally; much to the chagrin of their parents.

Moreover, the butterfly shows absolutely no respect for the people on the street. In turning off the music, he is violating the personal rights of the people listening to that music. In covering the posters of bikini-clad woman, he stifles the creator’s freedom of expression. In knocking over the card game (which appears to be three card monte or one similar), he violates the rights of the people playing the game as well as destroys the dealer’s private property. The butterfly acts with a rife disregard for anyone else’s freedom.

Another set of ads that bother me (for similar reasons) are the Quaker Oatmeal spots. In these ads, two large men in suits visit various people’s houses and take their food. The Quaker company will obviously be using this food to flavor their oatmeal and turn a profit. The people from which the food is taken are offered no reward for their “generosity,” other than a small card that says “Thank you.”

Let’s examine this on its most basic level. Two men in suits take food from people and they can’t say no. The stolen food is then used for profit. The Quaker company has a well known and easily recognizable (perhaps even notorious) figurehead. Can we say mafia? I’m not pointing any fingers, but the spots do have a certain mob-esque feel to them. At any rate, representatives from the Quaker Company are stealing innocent peoples’ food.

As my friend Kris puts it, “the populous is an oyster for Corporate America to shuck and devour. The populous’ money acts as an aphrodisiac for Corporate America. The only thing we have to call our own are our guts, our fruits of labor. And that’s what Corporate America takes; our guts. Capitalism: the spoon by which our innards are removed; soul and all.” That’s wonderful Kris. Now if you’ll just step down off the soap-box, it’s time for your medication.

Seriously, though, it’s amazing what some companies deem acceptable for their image. It’s as though they don’t think about these things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the point of both of the ad campaigns. In fact, I like a couple of the MSN ads. My point is simply that companies need to seriously think about all the possible interpretations of the messages they broadcast.

I Am Not America

Kris told me about a campaign that I really like. It’s the ‘I am not America” campaign. Everyone always says, “America did this, America did that,” then there’s hostility toward American citizens. Yes, America has decided to bomb Iraq. I am not America.

On a lighter note, last night someone taped a photograph of a person mooning the camera on the wall across from my door. When I first saw it I laughed out loud. I don’t think that was the effect they desired.

WAR: WTF?

So the U.S. is at war with Saddam. Again. Honestly, what the hell? How do we know for sure that he’s still there? What if he really has left and we’re bombing Iraq anyway? Actually, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

It’s amazing to see how upset people get. Last night, one guy was telling me how angry the anti-war people make him. I heard that some people on the 7th floor got into a huge argument because some people weren’t against the war. It’s stupid. So I’m starting a new campaign.

My campaign’s name is WAR: WTF? Some of us want the war to happen, some of us don’t. We just don’t want to have to hear about it 24/7.

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Surviving Terrorism

Now you can order Surviving Terrorism, a book that spans “312 oversized, information-packed pages” and is supposedly filled with everything you need to know about how to survive a terrorist attack. The book’s website even includes testimonials. How can there be testimonials when this book was published =after= 9/11 and there haven’t been any other terrorist attacks since that would necessitate such a book? In fact, I checked the Anywho for a number of random names in the testimonials section and most of them turned up with no results. So are they quoting people who don’t exist? Perhaps, but I did manage to find one person (I won’t tell you who for their sake). The name on the testimonial was the only matching name on the Anywho, so I decided to call and ask if the testimonial was real. The person I spoke to was the person listed on the testimonial and they claimed to have written it. So statistically, only one in every five or six of their testimonials is real. Don’t be fooled by imitations, you can’t buy this book on Amazon.com! And how can this book be better than one written by the U.S. Marine Corps? Especially when there’s such an amazing price difference. The Marine Corps book is $179.05 cheaper than Surviving Terrorism. But wait, what’s this I spy? It looks like a secret page that allows you to purchase the same book for $97 instead of $199! What the hell is going on here? Moreover, if you decide not to order the book today, you can get a special 90-day money back guarantee instead of the standard 30-day. Plus, you get to keep the book if you ask for your money back. Why aren’t they just giving these things away? Perhaps because they claim the information they’ll send you is worth $429.96. The phrase that really sticks out in my mind is “Some People Will Think I’m Nuts … Including My Wife!” I’ve seen this on so many scams before it’s not even funny. What’s that saying about if something is too good to be true?