Stupid sells

Sex sells; we know this. At least, it did back in MY day. (Back then, dagnabbit, there were hot, naked women in whipped cream everywhere we looked, and we liked it!) There are certain biological imperatives that dictate this. Some of us will see this as arising from God’s plan, others will see it as evidence of the power of evolutionary forces, and some of us will see it as both. There is no doubt that this beautiful, natural thing has been exploited in the service of a lot of tawdry, even perverse products and causes (Herb Alpert and Noxzema Medicated Comfort Shave not included), but the fact is pretty much undeniable.

Here’s what gets me, though — "stupid," "plastic" and "pointless" seem to be deemed just as useful in selling as sex. And this does get on my nerves.

For instance, every day I have this irritating window that pops up on my laptop (I haven’t figured out how to stop it from doing this; nor have I spent time trying) to promote the "Real Message Center," and every day it gives me a less-than-flattering picture of current popular culture. Here were the headlines today:

Today’s rising stars honored at Young Hollywood Awards.

Where in the world will Brangelina have baby number two? 

Pressure builds as American Idol gets down to the final five.

And I find myself wondering, every time I see such an insipid come-on: Who wants to know these things? What’s your target audience? And I fear the answer is that said audience is vast, and it really, really interested in this stuff. For the purposes of writing this post, I clicked on all three above, and I have three questions:

  1. Who are Brittany Robinson and Thomas Dekker?
  2. How do you look yourself in the mirror after writing a headline that contains "Brangelina?"
  3. Why do people know the names of contestants on "American Idol?" Isn’t the point that they’re supposed to be ordinary people? Isn’t there something contradictory here? Where is Arthur Godfrey when you need him?

OK, so that was more than three questions, but you get my point.

Sometimes these come-ons simply appeal to sex, offering photo galleries of certain hot, hot starlets (which is lost on me since I’ve never heard of most of them). By contrast, those items seem relatively healthy. And I did find ONE pretty cool picture on one that I DID click on. I even ended up saving the image — it was Jennifer Lopez depicted in the style of Boris Vallejo. And if I can find it, I’ll share it.

We all waste time in one way or another. Look at me — I blog. But if I’m not blogging, or rating movies on Netflix, I at least feel the call of that shelf-and-a-half of good books I’ve received as gifts and that I really MUST get to. Don’t we get enough of celebrities who are famous for being famous by osmosis at the grocery checkout line? Who would go in pursuit of more of it?

And again, I’m afraid the answer is, "Lots of people."

7 thoughts on “Stupid sells

  1. Doug Ross

    What a cheap ploy to drive your page view count up to reach 1,000,000…
    Here, let me help you. Lindsey Lohan. Paris Hilton. Britney Spears. Naked.

  2. martin

    7:40 PM 5-1-08. Hardball – Chris Matthews said he’s heard the South Carolina Governor has a Quayle problem!!! This was after someone named Kevin Miller said SC gov was possible VP for McCain. Tons of dummies out tonight!!!

  3. Lee Muller

    How can anyone delude themselves into believing that Governor Sanford, MBA and millionaire entrepreneur, is not intelligent?
    This must be caused by the same virus which causes some liberals to believe that GW Bush was just given a jet to fly, and flew it hundreds of hours without every learning how, then earned an MBA at Harvard and turned $250,000 into millions in 15 years, without having a lick of sense.
    Most of the people mouthing this drivel are mediocre their chosen field.

  4. Gordon Hirsch

    Just happened by and find that Lee’s still sniffin’ around Sanford’s butt. … Let’s see, what do we know about Sanford the Intelligent? There’s always Stupid is as Stupid does. Or the jet-set yachting races he skipped votes for in DC. Or that pig he carries around under his arm at the State House (old joke: guy walks into a bar with a pig under his arm. Bartender says, “Nice! Where’d you git ’em?” Pig looks up and says, I won him in a raffle.”)
    … Or maybe it’s Sanford’s inbred good looks, that flat face poking a hooked bill barely less prominent than those dumbo ears – which could easily suggest a genetic link that genius across the pond, bonnie Prince Charles, also of dumbo fame, and with no less a Durante schnozz. Seriously. Check ’em out. Separated at birth?
    As for Sanford’s wealth? How much intelligence does it take to inherit the family planation (sorry, family farm) from Daddy, then use your political position to curry senatorial success with the old-money real estate crowd back home?
    Don’t buy any of that? Maybe he’s just smart the old-fashioned way: a simple crook who hasn’t been caught, hiding in plain sight.

  5. Susan

    Hey Brad!
    I totally agree with you on the idiocy of the headlines! I mean, really, people, who gives a hoot where Angelina Weirdo has her baby?
    But, I do have to tell you, you should know who Brittany Robertson is! A Chester, SC native. Her father, Ryan operates a resaturant in Chester and her grandmother, Shuler Robertson currently lives in CA. with the young’un whilst she is making a name for herself. She’s been in the Jesse Stone movies and other TV and movie roles where she has had quite a prominent role.
    So although most of that stuff is stupid, everyone in SC should know Brittany is a Carolina Girl; Best in the World!

  6. Brad Warthen

    Well now, see, that Real Message Center failed to tell me who her Daddy was.
    That’s the trouble with modern mass media; they don’t know how to introduce people to us downhome folks in South Carolina. One of our most important questions to ask candidates for office is “Who’s Your Daddy?”
    Of course, usually we know — as in the cases of Thomas Ravenel, Rick Quinn, Joel Lourie, Vincent Sheheen, and so on.
    But sometimes we don’t ask, and it leaves us in the dark. For instance, for a day or two this week we were puzzling over a mystery regarding a candidate we had interviewed, and it would have seemed less mysterious if we had simply asked, “Who’s your Mama?” I’ll post something about that when I get a little time…

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