I don't watch TV very often. I don't own one. I owned one for a while when I lived in the states, but it sat like a boat anchor on my bedroom table or on a cabinet in my living room and never had cable juice coursing through its veins until two momentous occasions: 9/11 and the arrival of a new boyfriend. Both occasions temporarily got me all riled up, but now, not so much.
However, to maintain my sense of humor while sorting through the moldy cheese, rotten vegetables, wormy meat scraps and bloated fish guts of the vast rotting wasteland of American politics (Wow, even I'm impressed by that sentence), I need to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Somehow, it gives me hope that those two brilliant guys (and their brilliant writers) can still manage to make jokes - 4 days a week! - about the compost bin of American media and the mostly-pasty-white-guy world of America's corporate-owned politics.
I also like to watch Rachel Maddow. She's not as funny, but she's so smart, like genius smart, that she makes me proud to be a woman.
But, let's get back to America being corporate-owned. I'm including our illustrious media in this sweeping but true generalization, of course. So, for me living in France, that means I'm blocked from watching American TV shows online. The Comedy Central mouthpieces say it's because they don't have advertising rights in my country. Because, ya know, advertisers really dictate where these independent (hahaha!) television companies can show their ads, er, I mean, independent TV shows.
But, I'm a geek. So I found a way around those bastards. I installed an add-on for Firefox that makes me look like I live in Ohio (or maybe Wasilla, right on Sarah Palin's Russia-gazing porch). It's called "X-Forwarded-For Spoofer" or spoofing, for short. This online anarchy allows me to watch the full episodes of Stewart and Colbert, instead of having to watch tiny, edited-down segments.
It also means that now, like all patriotic American consumers, I also have to watch the ads. So, I guess there's no way to get around those bastards after all. But at least I can catch up on the audacity of corporate propaganda and actually be hip to the latest Old Spice mania. Old Spice. The cologne that Jim Gardner, my first-ever date, bathed in prior to donning his Inspector Clouseau trench coat, climbing into the back seat of his dad's Mercury, directing his dad to my house, where he didn't have to face my mother or father, but just our babysitter, Mrs. Schick. From there, his dad dropped us off at the movies, where Jim yawned in order to put his arm around me and then, before the credits rolled, escorted me out back behind the theatre so he could steal one fat, lolling tongue kiss. All I remember is how giant his tongue was and how disgusting his perfume.
But, with the power of clever and humorous advertising with a deep-voiced handsome dude named Isaiah Mustafa, Old Spice is having the revival of its life. It still smells like crap, though.
Meanwhile, Wendy's - a giant, global, fast-food restaurant - has a brand spanking new campaign with the tag line: You know when it's real. And yet again: You can't fake real.
Oh, yes you can.
Having written advertising copy most of my career, I went to Wendy's's (I couldn't resist making fun of the name they came up with that will be so "unique" in it's pain-in-the-assness, that it will surely be "memorable") website and recognized the time-honored technique: use words and phrases that suggest or imply what you want consumers to believe about your product, but never actually say anything that might be construed as a lie. Or, use all the emotional keywords you can find, in sentences that seem like they mean something, but actually mean nothing.
After all, in a country where fake is the norm, why not start an ad campaign trashing fake and implying that you, alone in the wilderness of fakedom, are the only one who is real. Brilliant. Except for the fact that Wendy's food is STILL not real. But, why dither with the details?
Because, I enjoy dithering. And because the very same people who believe Wendy's's's and other corporate bullshit also believe political propaganda and vote for snotty little ignoramuses like George W. Bush.
So, here's the run-down...
Who gives a damn if they freeze their beef if it's poison to begin with? They're just making all this shit up. People will start saying to their friends, while discussing which fast-food joint they want to visit to assuage their hangover pangs or stoner munchies, "You know, Wendy's beef is never frozen!" Like this is a startling, undeniable, life-changing fact, along the same lines as, "George Bush made America safe."
And of course, there's chicken.
I guess I should be happy to know that their chicken isn't mystery meat. But the only time that "finest quality meats" is true is when the chickens are pesticide-free, hormone-free and free-range. Oh, and notice that they don't say anything about whether their chicken is as unfrozen as their beef. And what about us poor sods who like dark meat? Even their "wings" are made from breasts. Oh, I forgot! It's America, where white is right and brown should be drowned in the Rio Grande before it can sneak across the border.
I DID notice that Wendy's's website says that they offer Marzetti's all-natural salad dressings but they didn't say "organic" so I'm not sure they are actually using Marzetti's line of certified organic dressings, or not. At this point, I don't trust Wendy's's's. But, I really should. After all...
The fact that a giant chain of fast-food restaurants can spend a fortune to purposely design an ad campaign that pretends they are not selling factory-raised and factory-processed animals, fruits and vegetables and that this Big Lie goes unchallenged in the media and in the minds of most American consumers, is a testament to the fact that corporate marketers and Madison Avenue advertising agencies believe that American consumers are ignorant sheep.
They're laughing at us sheep (Baaahhh!), all the way to the bank.