"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 14 August 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run XCVI


[Logo for Prescription Drug Advertising, boasting some cool font and a couple of vials of drugs, the kind that are extremely hard to open, unless you are a small child with super-dexterous hands.]

If ads aren't news, changes in

advertising sure are, especially

when the changes being

considered affect advertisers'

ability to deliver the product

mnemonics we've come to accept

as a reliable substitute for

information on what the thing

actually does. We've never been

able to figure the fuss over

prescription medication

advertising's context-free

cryptic evocations of brand

names - why should they be any

different from equally oblique

ads for Heineken, Yahoo, or CK

One? Still, the FDA's decision

to allow drug advertisers the

same freedom to misinform that

other pitchmen have been loath

to embrace anyway will be

welcome news to some, namely,

kids, who are - as we've

repeatedly held - stupid, and

need to be walked through a

drug's benefits (like, will it

make them look cool or feel

invincible?) in order to be

enticed to use it.


[Logo for the Academy of Acne, or something in that vein: it is a multi-colored set of teenage profiles, shown with a full case of acne. ]

Indeed, on Sunday, The New York

Times reported that

antidepressants were selling

strong to the youthful set

without the benefits of

advertising or FDA approval.

With that head start, we imagine

campaigns aimed at youngsters

("We're the new generation,

Gen-Effexor," and Prozac's more

controversial "Screw

Depression.") could have

selective serotonin re-uptake

inhibitors surpassing benzoil

peroxide in the drug arsenal

adolescents use to smooth over

teenage lumps. Of course, kids

have been using various other

substances to that effect for

some time, and their market

share will be tough one to, er,

crack. One doctor observed that

treating depression with legal

medicine can keep kids from

medicating themselves with

illegal "feel-good drugs," (and

legalizing theft will bring the

crime rate down), but in order

for the dummy pill to overtake

the dummy pipe, it'll need

something more than a snappy

slogan and an Rx sheet. We

understand that Joe Camel is free.

(For now.)


[Photograph of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France and many other things. Actually, it is a mere representation of Napoleon, in this case, carefully chosen to illustrate a story of politics and decadense.]

The September issue of Vanity

Fair finally "outed" New York

City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's

long-standing affair with

underling Christyne Lategano.

Such a nonrevelation seems

unlikely to affect Giuliani's

pretty unstoppable bid for

reelection, but it was amusing

to see The Wall Street Journal

leap to his defense on its

editorial page. Editor Robert L.

Bartley also used the editorial

to lambast VF once again for its

August report on Dow Jones

Chairman Peter Kann. "Vanity

Fair's advertisers - Calvin

Klein, Gucci, Ralph Lauren -

presumably do not care whether

the copy separating their

messages is true or false, fair

or foul. Their collective

message seems to be that with

the right gown/shoes/scents, you

too can be decadent." Strong

stuff from a publication that no

doubt salivates over every

lame-ass fashion IPO that comes

down the pike. Graydon Carter

seems unfazed by L'Affaire Dry

Hump, however, and good for him.

Now if he can show the same

strength of purpose to the



[Portrait of Indian film-maker Amitabh Bachhan, one of the World's most prolific movie tycoons. This is one of the few photographs available of him and, in full graininess, illustrates how Indian film-makers and entertainment employees in general must keep a low profile because of recent assassinations and apparent mob involvement.]

Determined to observe tomorrow's

50th birthday of our favorite

nuclear-armed nation, but

lacking the resources for

anything like the New Yorker's

bloated all-India issue, we've

been scanning the headlines for

good news. Unfortunately, as is

often the case in the

subcontinent, the news is mostly bad.

Tuesday's assassination of film

producer and music-industry

tycoon Gulshan Kumar not only

brings back bad memories of

other music-related murders (and

to this day, has anybody figured

out how Suge didn't get hit even

once?) but bodes ill for the

world's largest movie industry.

Along with the shooting earlier

this year of filmmaker Mukesh

Duggal and attempts on the lives

of noted producers Rajiv Rai and

Subhash Ghai, Kumar's

assassination indicates the

Indian film business is growing

too dependent on dirty money.

Deputy Chief Minister Gopinath

Munde is urging the government

to subsidize the movie business,

and we've seen enough Amitabh

Bachhan movies to know that the

Hindi Stallone could crack this

case wide open in under 90

minutes. Meanwhile, Hollywood

now has two lessons to learn

from Bollywood: 1) More musical

numbers. 2) This is how you deal

with fuckups.

courtesy of the Sucksters

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