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Consumed

This started as a funny post about two weird magazines and somehow turned into a rant about ever-encroaching ads and marketing messages.

The other day, while grocery shopping, I saw two magazines that I found utterly mystifying:

Conceive
This is apparently for people who never learned about the "special hug" that mommies and daddies give each other when they want to make a baby. What could there possibly be to say about getting pregnant that would justify a magazine's worth of content every month? Oh wait, nevermind - it's 90% full of ads convincing parents that they need two baby monitors, a crib, a bassinet, three car seats, a bouncy chair, 57 pacifiers and a copy of a Beethoven CD to make your baby smarter. Oh, and success stories from people who did it! They got pregnant! Yay for them! Let's all have a round of applause for the Johnsons in Virginia for figuring out how to make a baby.

New Beauty
Well, at least this magazine is honest in its efforts to push plasticine beauty. I do wonder if the models in this magazine have actually had plastic surgery, or if they are just there to show off the genetics we are all trying to copy.

It struck me as I was looking at this magazine that the things Western women do to their bodies (implanting cartoonishly large breasts, puffy lip injections, cheek implants, etc.) are no less strange than women in other parts of the world who stack brass rings around their necks, or stretch their earlobes out big enough to put dinner plates inside. Yet, we look at those pictures in National Geographic and think - how crazy! I wonder what those people would think of our Extreme Makeover culture. Again, this magazine seems to be little more than an excuse for plastic surgeons to advertise next to an article titled, "All About Injectibles."

It's actually kind of sad that the great majority of content options we have are little more than a delivery system for ads. Entertainment is a grand human tradition: minstrels, the theatre, storytelling - all of that evolved into movies, magazines, television shows, then devolved into between-commercial filler and now has devolved further by being infested by advertising at every moment. As much as I love Project Runway, I know that at heart it's a product-placement marketing effort by Banana Republic, Olympus and L'Oreal. Most women's magazines (as pointed out by Gloria Steinem AGES ago) severly blur the line between advertising and editorial content. Last year, an author was paid by Ford to feature the Focus in her novel. Is nothing sacred?

The sad thing is, we have come to expect and accept it. Check out Frontline's The Persuaders sometime - very interesting stuff about how advertisers figure out what we want and give it to us, or just figure out how to make us want something we never knew we wanted.

That's why I stopped reading InStyle - I realized it was making me feel stressed out. I felt anxious when I read it because I didn't have the season's must-haves. What?! That's just crazy. But that's how they want to make you feel - like you need to go to the store RIGHT NOW.

It's why I've stopped reading the Sunday inserts, because all they do is make me think I need to go to Target. And I don't.

I'm just so weary of this constant need to consume. We, as Americans, really need to find something more interesting to do with our time and our brainpower.

Posted February 26, 2005 9:30 AM

 

6 Comments

But, but... SHOES!

No, honestly, I agree with you. It's the reason why everyone I know (other than my sister -the other Meghan Macaroni- who doesn't count because she's a freak) was in debt by 20, with little or nothing to show for it.

I had a period where going through the Sunday ads was like poring through some illicit material not meant for innocent eyes, and I'd wake up on any given morning needing to buy something... anything. I knew then that it was becoming a problem.

It took an EXTREME amount of working on my will power/self control/etc., but I managed to kill my weird subchemical need to buy things all the time, but I won't say it doesn't rear its ugly head now and then. Target is definitely my Achilles heel.

Shifting gears, I was SO happy with the end of Project Runway! Kara Saun's shoe move was low and sleazy, and though her collection was cute, it was a total ripoff of what she called her "inspiration" and of Gucci. And yes, the constant product placement was so irritating, much like it was on Blow Out (another Bravo reality about opening a shishi L.A. salon).

Perhaps my sisters and I should hire ourselves out to do a special fertility rite around couples who are having trouble with conception. Between the three of us, we have 10 children. We come from a long line of highly fertile women -- our mother had 10 live births. I've never had a spec of trouble in that area. Quite the contrary. I once said that Steve could throw an alfalfa sprout at me and I'd probably conceive. The baby would have looked like either the Hulk or the Jolly Green Giant, but you get the idea.
As for all the baby gear. Yeah, who needs it! One only needs an empty drawer for baby to nestle in for the first month or so, then the hand-me-down crib from your cousin. The perfect nursery is more for mom and dad to show off to friends than it is for the kid. And most of the baby stuff is hideously colored rubberized plastic. Babies would rather see your face and gum your shoulder than just about anything. Somehow, my 4 offspring turned out JUST FINE, thanks so much, without Baby Einstein.

Heh, I just got out of an hour and a half long meeting about "out of the box" ways to advertise and basically hit more people. The first on the list was in-game advertising. In fairness, it's not as autrocious as advertising a car in a book, but damn, like you said, is nothing sacred anymore? When I'm shooting someone with an alien plasma gun, I don't want to be bombarded with advertising! :) What a stupid business...

Gordon, havn't you seen the billboards are you are racing around the track in Grand tourismo.. the advertising is already all over games.. and I am a huge fan of the 30 minutes of commercials they put before a movie which is full of product placements. I'm waiting for companies to hire people to wear advertisements for them..oh, wait, we already do and we pay them Thanks "Tommy"

"the Johnsons in Virginia"

Am I the only one who finds this hilarious? Good lord that's funny...

can i use your car this weekend? I need to get to Target.