"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 24 April 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXXXI


[Pretty Button]

While the organizers of the

upcoming Counter-Clio Awards

probably would like to believe

that imitation is the sincerest

form of battery, we can't help

but think their efforts amount

to little more than a skillful

exercise in gen-X-style

sassimilation. What's the point,

really, in "call[ing] attention

to the pervasive power of

advertising" through a

slick, PR-friendly protest-

as-entertainment? With

categories like Excellence in

Blaxploitation, Finest of

Auto-Eroticism, Oh, What a

Tangled Web (site) You Weave,

and the Toxic Sludge Is Good for

You Award, the Counter-Clios

promise to be even more

compelling than the real ones,

and we imagine that the event's

organizers will soon be tapped

by forward-thinking agencies

looking for creatives who know

how to deliver persuasive,

skeptic-friendly sales messages.

Living anti-brand Neil Postman

will serve in his customary role

as "appropriate transmitter of

culture values." Other

appropriate transmitters (albeit

with slightly lesser Q ratings)

taking part in the ceremonies

include Mark Crispin Miller and

Leslie Savan.



In his 1923 article "Agitation

and Advertisement," the Russian

avant-garde poet Vladimir

Mayakovski wrote, "The

advertisement is industrial,

commercial agitation. No

business, even the most certain

and reliable, keeps going

without advertisement." What

separates Mayakovski from

Gossage is that Mayakovski and

his radical comrades really were

in the business of social

revolution, and considered

society itself to be the client

to the constructivist account

executives. With Red Kamels, RJR

Nabisco has, to be sure, set its

sights much lower - they want

the Rebellious Adolescent

demographic to smoke cigarettes,

as opposed to the bourgeoisie -

it's still a pretty good trick,

although the ads do look a bit

too much like The Gap's "[Your

Favorite Rebel] wore khakis"

campaign. It's always

titillating to see the Russian

constructivist aesthetic thrown

up as a visual signifier for

radicalism, but US News &

World Report's comments on the

matter left something to be

desired: While they mentioned

that Red Kamels had been

discontinued in 1936, they

neglected to mention Stalin's

show trials as the probable

reason. Maybe Red Kamels are

back for a "good reason" after




With the news that Phillip Morris

and RJR Nabisco are considering

a "huge" US$300 billion

settlement with states suing

them for the costs of taking

care of victims of nicotine

addiction, we credit the Tobacco

Industry's cleverness in

creating a simple solution to a

tragic situation of epic scale:

product liability insurance. By

paying out billions on our

lives, they buy immunity from

endless future lawsuits, freeing

them to sell cigarettes at any

nicotine level they choose, and

addict as many people as they

can. Too bad the auto industry

hadn't thought of this, or they

wouldn't have to shell out for

all those seat belts and air

bags. The possibilites for

banned products returning to the

market are endless - lawn darts,

assault rifles, and DDT - and we

especially welcome the return of

a childhood favorite, the

original red M & M.



Doomsayers now have hard evidence

that today's kids are a

generation of illiterates - the

financial woes of Scholastic

Corp. Since November, the

children's publishing company's

stock has tanked from a high of

$77 per share to $25 per, and

falling. The alleged culprit is

dwindling sales of R. L. Stine's

legendary Goosebumps series,

which sets in motion a series of

bad news/good news syllogisms.

The bad news: Kids aren't

reading books anymore. The good

news: Kids aren't reading R. L.

Stine books anymore. The bad

news: The company behind those

Scholastic Books you used to

love is on the skids. The good

news: Those Scholastic Books

were just pablum adults threw

at you when what you really

wanted was your mom's copy of

Fear of Flying. Matters get

complicated, however, by the

possibility that kids are not

actually losing interest in

Goosebumps and the Baby Sitters

Club, but that Scholastic's

troubles are just short-term

demographic fallout from the

sexual counterrevolution of the

mid-1980s. A dip in the baby

boomlet then means fewer

pubescent readers now. The bad

news: a shrinking market for

adolescent merchandising. The

good news? Fewer teenagers!


[Book COver]

While we chose to celebrate Earth

Day with a pint of Rainforest

Crunch, The New York Times

reported on the backlash against

environmental education.

According to the article,

critics of in-school

environmental programs (a small

percentage of which are funded

by grants from the EPA) contend

that "impressionable children

are being browbeaten into an

irrational rejection of

consumption, economic growth,

and free-market capitalism."

(That does sound pretty bad -

only a truly rational rejection

of consumption would stand a

chance against the other

contender in public schools'

marketplace of ideas - such

companies as Channel One and Cover

Concepts, outfits that offer

underfunded districts

commercial-sponsored lesson

plans and classroom

accessories.) The conservative

Claremont Institute has decided

that the solution to this war of

ideas is to add to their side's

muscle. Facts, not Fear is their

attempt to counteract

pro-enviroment propaganda with

pro-industry propaganda. Hear!

Hear! We've always argued that

banning guns from schools only

encourages a false sense of

security in youngsters - to

eliminate the slings and arrows

of data warfare would make it

impossible for them learn the

most valuable skills of the

information age (next to "Duck

and cover"): ignore and delete.

courtesy of the Sucksters

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The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

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