The Knights of the Auto Order Proudly Present: The Auto Body Estimate: Vol. II, #54, February 2003
Advertising teaches us to need things we don't need and to value things that have no value; let these "newsletters" serve as prime examples. My best friend Eric had some strange ideas when we kids, and some of them could be attributed to the evils of advertising. Bombarded with offers of "collectors items" (bicentennial milk cartons!) and constant reminders of the inherent superiority of anyone famous, Eric began to plot at, an early age, to make big money. He reasoned that if you had some documented Elvis Presley phlegm, it'd be very valuable to collectors, even though the King just spat it away during his life. (Ads would read: "Actually created by the King, in his own body!") Since Eric had no direct access to anyone famous, or their phlegm, but knew (like me) that he'd be a famous rock star someday, he decided to beat the rush and began collecting his own phlegm in old Mason jars and storing them in his root cellar. One of my reoccurring childhood nightmares involved this post apocalyptic-scene: I'd survived the bombs, and made it to relative safety in an underground lair, only to find the pantry stocked with nothing but Eric's jars.
Prior to Al Gore's invention of the Internet, computer activities provided shelter from Madison Avenue's attacks, but sadly, this is no longer the case. Recently I'd become insecure about the size of a particular body part because of all the emails I'd received suggesting I should make it bigger. I've since decided that I might not be specifically targeted for these ads as I'm also getting many stating: "Like me you've tried everything to lose weight". Anyone who's seen me swimming knows this is like trying to sell elevator shoes to Yao Ming.
Seeking an email respite, I recently repaired to the smallest room at my workplace with a copy of Time Magazine's "Best Photos Of The Year" (Becca refers to practitioners of this behavior as "Crapper Nappers"). Inside was an ad showing a mom and her grade school aged son walking across a beach. The mom says she never started smoking because Grandma told her that once you start it's hard to quit. The boy says: "Hey, that's what you told me", to which mom replies: "Exactly".
Oddly enough, this ad was financed by Philip Morris, the huge tobacco company who makes Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Benson & Hedges, Coffin Nails, Cojones Grandes, and many others. While I understand these ads are in some way related to legal settlements, the whole "fox guarding the henhouse" scenario still strikes me as very surreal. Imagine if all judges allowed felons to select their own punsihment - for sexual harassment, Billy Bob would sentence himself to ten years - in the Women's Penitentiary shower. Did someone forget that the tobacco industry reigns at tricky stuff like subliminal messages? For all we know the tiny grains of sand on the beach send covert messages to the minds of teenaged boys that cigarette breath creates a magnet-like attraction with the material used in breast implants.
"Okay Yoho", you say: "You've decribed the problem - what's the solution?" I suggest supporting smaller, local businesses, whose advertising lacks the sophistication (and the manipulative subtleties) of their international brethren. Instead of buying a Shania Twain CD, come see our band at The Whole (in the newly renovated Coffman Union on the U of M's East Bank) on Saturday, Feb 22. We'll play EARLY: doors open at 6:30 PM. Mike Gunther's on first, we're on next (we'll start aroudn 8:00), and the night will reach its frenzied climax when we're followed by The Frogs, an irreverent Milwaukee band (whose members are friends with famous peoples from Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins). Bring those Mason jars just in case.
-Scott Yoho, Grand Pooh Bah, The Auto Body Experience
PS: Please note we have a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, February 22 we'll be at The Whole (in the recently renovated Coffman Memorial Union) on the U of M's East Bank. Doors open at 6:30 PM and we'll play around 8:00.Return the Estimate Index...