Brand Names Insult My Intelligence

I do not purchase clothing that prominently displays a brand name.  (On the other hand, I’d be tempted to wear an “I love Halliburton” t-shirt for the shock value.  But that’s another post…)  I am not a walking billboard and I am not stupid enough to pay for the privilege of becoming one.

Unfortunately, most people are not as wise as I am and I usually must remain silent about their mindless attire.

I’m not presumptuous enough to tell you that clothing should be art.  Since I’m less than wealthy, I see little point in plunking down over $100.00 for a designer shirt that will be shredded within a year or two.  (Those luxury goods aren’t always designed to last.  Rich people often care more about the latest fashions and they can afford to replace things more regularly.  In their minds, a shirt from 2012 has already gone out of style and belongs in the dumpster.)

Instead, I want my clothing to cover all of the necessary body parts and remain intact long enough to keep my bank account from crashing.   (Gender appropriateness is also important.)  Therefore: clearance racks!

And you thought this would be an advertisement for Wal-Mart…

This works for me because I’m a guy.  By contrast, women often like to accessorize with pretty things.  For example, a non-utilitarian purse.  They treat it like clothing and it has to match the outfit, so they often end up owning many purses.

I’ll leave the “battle of the sexes” content to the bloggers who do it better.  I’m more interested in the idiotic, and one particular design type stands out.  It’s the standard “look how special I am because I can afford an expensive brand” variety:

This demonstrates the owner's aesthetic excellence.  (Photo credit: )

This demonstrates the owner’s sense of aesthetic superiority. (Photo credit: prettycatty)

Let’s review.  You’re carrying around a container that holds cash, cards, and expensive electronics.  Why are you advertising to potential thieves that the contents might be especially valuable?  Of all the purses at the football game (note the obligatory transgression of gender stereotypes), yours now stands out as the most desirable to steal.  Brilliant!

Of course, your bag’s probably fake.  Just like you.

Funny how things work out…

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Uncomfortable Seating Insults My Intelligence

As we all know, restaurants and tourist attractions make their money by shuffling the maximum number of people through the premises while extracting money from them.  Profits are tied to the number of paying visitors.

In most places, you’ll find basic wood stools or other obviously uncomfortable accommodations, but some destinations try to hide the seating to prevent people from stopping.  For instance, check out this arrangement at Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona:

Lantern RoadDo you see anywhere to rest your tired feet after walking along that long and winding road?  Look closer:

Lantern RoadGaudi was a master, knowing full well that hiding the seats between the giant lanterns would discourage anyone from sitting on them.  And they look so much more comfortable than the standard cheap bench.

I’m sure your butt is just itching to try it out.

Of course, there’s another cause for that itch.  I like to call it subliminal anti-marketing.  What enters your mind when you look at this?

Lantern RoadWhy yes, there’s a cactus sprouting from the top of that lantern.  I sure hope those needles didn’t blow onto the benches.  If you didn’t already have hemorrhoids, a few needles might give you a good bout of them.

Moral of the story: The mark of true artists resides in their ability to incorporate profit-making motives into the smallest details of their work.

New Video Games Insult My Intelligence

Growing up, I spent tons of time in front of video games.  Now that I’m grown and unemployed, I wish I could still find some games of the type I used to love.

These are the old-school RPG’s.  Since many of you will only be familiar with the newer model, here’s a glimpse of the past:

That video highlights what used to be possible in a video game.  At the start, you could choose the job type (magician, warrior, etc.) of each character and all sorts of combinations were possible.  That meant you could play the game repeatedly and you’d always experience something new because you’d need a new strategy for the group you had selected.  The four white wizards in the video were known as the most challenging combination possible in the original Final Fantasy game; a lot of imagination went into devising the method of winning portrayed in the video.  (That was the game’s final battle, which is why the video’s ending is so surprising.)

In case you don’t remember what imagination is, look it up in the dictionary.   We don’t breed much of it these days.

And since RPG’s have always taken notoriously long to complete, the video game companies obviously saw a losing proposition.  You can’t have customers being happy with your product for too long or else they won’t need to buy anything new.  (I wonder if this is why cars break down so often…)  So the companies added more intricate storylines and, eventually, movies to the games.  Once you add this, the characters must always be the type that is portrayed.  Player choice becomes impossible unless the game companies start programming the myriad variations in stories and videos to accommodate a player’s options.

That’s going to happen, right?

And there died the ability to replay an RPG once you’ve completed it once.  Evil marketing genius, I say.

In fact, new games arguably revolve around around the movies and storyline instead of gameplay itself.  I liked the old-school RPG’s because I didn’t have to fumble with the controller and struggle with my less-than-stellar reflexes.  And then these games were unceremoniously transformed into first-person battle simulators that bore no resemblance to the original genre.  And now they’re becoming interactive movies that require neither reflexes nor anything else but the willingness to shell out large sums of money. (Well, I suppose they also require the ability to gaze into a screen for long periods of time.)  If I want a movie, I’ll buy a DVD or join Netflix and spend a lot less for it.

Nevertheless, the game companies get away with calling these offerings RPG’s.  In some cases (Final Fantasy, anyone?), game mechanics became unrecognizable in new releases even though the game title presents the new product as an installment in the longstanding series.

Just put a crappier car under the same nameplate and idiots will flock to the new vehicle, ignoring all evidence that they’re being sold nothing more than a name.  This isn’t the understandable evolution of a product.  Instead, it borders on bait-and-switch.

Granted, I don’t miss the hours and hours I used to spend repeatedly battling small monsters so I could build up my characters’ skills enough to progress in a game.  Nevertheless, it’s not too hard to program a game with more major tasks that are separated by smaller gaps in how far your characters have developed.

Oh, wait.  It is too hard.  Those huge gaps ensured that programmers didn’t have to design larger world maps and more enemies to fight and longer stories.

And there’s the irony.  Expanding the storytelling aspect decreases the quantity of story the programmers must devise.  A 15-minute movie clip often progresses a story less than a few brief shots of text, but the movie clip looks good and that’s all that matters with games.  Besides which, it takes fewer movie clips to make a “legitimately” long game.

Or perhaps I should say a legitimately long “game.”

The Circus Insulted My Intelligence

When I think of circuses, I imagine bright and colorful lights shining down on breathtaking performances.  I imagine animals prancing around in all their glory.  I imagine crowds of people, including babies who are afraid of clowns.

And so I visited Piccadilly Circus while I was in London and discovered this:

circusI got my bright and colorful lights shining down on magnificent architectural performances, but somehow my enjoyment wasn’t heightened.  I got animals prancing around, although I didn’t need to travel so far to see homo sapiens in my own natural habitat.

However, I did see crowds of people.  I’m sure any baby would fear the clowns (a.k.a. tourists) you can find here on any given day.

Even though one can find plenty of restaurants nearby, why would a tourist choose to pause here?   London explodes with greater attractions than these gaudy advertisements… even though the ads happen to be juxtaposed with worthwhile stuff.

Mortuaries Insult My Intelligence

Slide1I’m standing here at Deddinboxtin & Co. Funeral Services Inc. headquarters and have the good fortune to chat with this happy looking man, Mr. Deddinboxtin himself.  Face powdered white like an old-time theater ghost and black hair slicked back like a guy who has a bunch of perfumed girls lined up for the evening, he has kindly agreed to show me around the place.

His voice, it rumbles like a train crushing a poor little squirrel, thunderous in spite of the havoc it creates under its nose.  “We got us here some great opportunities mister.  What sorta receptacle can I pleasure ya with today?”

“Mr. Deddinboxtin, I’d like…”

“A casket I suppose.  We have lovely wood grain veneer coffins with shiny red satin lining and a pillow soft as snow for your loved one to feel cozy all eternity or however long she stays dead.  You can sell us the pillow back after the viewing if yer cheap that way, we don’t mind but yer loved one’ll haunt ya ’til the cows start singin’ Dixie.  Casket’s rated to last forever or ’til the worms get in and let those like totally gonzo embalmin’ fluids seep out and kill the water supply.  Best you buy the whole damn package… pillow, casket, sealant, and our extra special memorial keepsake ornament you can keep on yer Christmas tree every year to remember this special time in yer life.”

“A Christmas ornament?  I don’t think…”

“It’s green and red and has a picture of yer beloved’s face on the front surrounded by holly and we can get a mistletoe fer it if ya wanna keep the romance goin’ if ya know what I mean.  It’s silver veneer over a plaster interior and it’ll stay with ya the rest of yer life unless it falls apart like those cheap plastic ornaments we sold last year.”

“I’m curious.  What made you decide to become a mortician?”

“Easy schmeezy.  I get to help peeps through the toughest part of their lives and they always find everlastin’ joy.  Take a look at this here memorial flower arrangement.  It’s only $1,999.99 and comes with all the roses yer beloved could ever dream of, unless ya want the deluxe bouquet with these rockin’ neon lights.  It’s a steal at only five hundred more.  She’ll know how much ya love her when she looks down from Heaven I hope and sees the lovin’ embrace yer givin’ her in the grave.  Them ladies gotta have them some flowers.  Ya want one arrangement or two?”

“What, pray tell…”

“Prayers, oh yeah, I about forgot the minister.  We keep a minister on staff and he’s the greatest thing you’ll ever see.  Dresses all in black to mark the occasion and he’s even got his own set of holy books.  Wrote ’em himself so we can say they’re good for any religion or atheists.  Them there atheists need a minister too and I’m here to sell him to ’em.  Oh, and you.  Should I mark ya down for the fifteen or thirty minute sermon?”

“But Mr. Deddinboxtin, no one died.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“You” Insults My Intelligence

It’s Sunday and you’re sitting on the couch watching TV instead of doing something useful with your time.  Okay, maybe that wasn’t entirely fair.  With the economy being so rotten, let’s assume that you’re performing your patriotic duty by watching commercials.  Maybe you’ll even buy something.

Today, I’d like to help ensure that your much needed purchase doesn’t turn out to be crap.  The method is simple: look for the word “you” in the commercial and, when you find it, avoid the product.  Claiming that a product is “perfect for the perfect you” or “fits the way you live” relieves businesses from having to make specific claims about their product’s quality.  Perfect for you, how?

Because it has “the quality you’ve known for years.”  True, but if the product is garbage, that’s not a selling point.  Telling me that I know the product is garbage shouldn’t make me want to buy it…

Unless I’ve had a lobotomy.  Sad thing is, these commercials work.  You can tell this by their continued proliferation on TV.  And they work because we’re all little children.

File:Mirror baby.jpg

(Photo credit: roseoftimothywoods)

Get a clue!  You’re perfect and you’ll be even more perfect with our product.  (Obligatory grammar note: I realize that “more perfect” is gibberish, but since when is gibberish prohibited from commercials?)  We can sell a new you to you because you love you, don’t you?  And if you buy our crap, it behooves you to believe us when we tell you that you are really buying you.  And it’s all true, too, because you belong in the loo.  And we can rhyme “you” and “true” and “too” and make a nifty little jingle out of your pathetic little self.  And then you will think you never knew differently, at least until the bill comes due.  Then you’ll be blue.

ooooooh…

Just be sure your pathetic little self forks over the $24.99 for shipping and handling.  You handle the payment, the mailman handles the delivery, and we handle the long pointy object going towards your [adult content, censored by blogger.  However, in the spirit of the post, it should be noted that the body part sometimes resembles a giant U.  How convenient.]