June 4, 2003

Creating Problems, Selling Solutions

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

Old joke: in this month’s Martha Stewart Living, she’s going to teach
people how, with a few commonly available household items, you can
make bail.

Working from home today, I made the mistake of putting CNN on for some
background noise. It’s really no wonder that people are dying for a way to stop
looking at television commercials. They are so, so insultingly
stupid, and if that weren’t egregious enough these incredibly dumb ads
are indiscriminately shoved into shows so far wrong that they couldn’t
hit their target audience with a tactical nuke. If I’m watching CNN,
am I likely to care when some kid tries to sell me a pizza pop? How often
will somebody be watching a damn kids’ cartoon at two p.m. and thinking,
in the back of their minds, “I need to refinance my house”? Yessir,
if I’m watching a sports event at eleven A.M, I’m likely to be thinking
about how I need a two thousand dollar watch. And I’m certainly thinking
about all those things twenty times an hour. Idiots. I realize
that you have no idea where your target audience is, here, but right
now you might as well be carpet-bombing the Moon.

And the lengths they’re going to to market their crap… Good lord.
Let me tell you what I know. A day without corn pops, as far as I can
tell, is a day without microcephalic teens in baggy pants. Gillette
would have you believe that using their product will result in your
being fellated by nubile space aliens; all Gillette’s ever given me
was a rash, but I assume that I’m somehow accidentally skipping that
middle, fellated-by-aliens step and getting right to the consequences.
Those aliens must be the same strange women who secrete wiper fluid
into their maxipads in the middle of major sporting events.

A couple of weeks ago I linked to
Paul Graham’s
bit about Java; one of his most important comments,
I thought, was that Java was explicitly designed for people that
the creators thought were dumber than them, and that it showed. I’ve
actually talked extensively to a commercial director, who said that
most of the good, interesting stuff that they film gets left on the
cutting-room floor in favor of what’s percieved as the most accessible,
which almost always means the lowest common denominator. I think Graham’s
right: when you patronize your audience, the audience can tell.

Grab hold of your mouse, we’re about to hit some hairpin segues and I
can tell you’re reading way too fast.

These days it seems
like everyone is having some
cat-maintenance (screech!) problems: maybe the lot of you could shame them into
? It might work.

Madhava (screech!) has gotten it together, so he’s back in
the sidebar. If you feel the same love for historic cartology,
or even just for old maps, that I do I urge you to take a look
at the very-cool Ottawa and Toronto maps that he’s got links
to over there. I will not link to them myself! You must go
there, and get the full Madhava
! He had pled technical difficulties a while back, and
now that his new Moveable-Type-powered look has finally allowed his
otherwise-distinguished web-presence to stop looking like a damn Gap
commercial, I’m left with only one person to obliquely antagonize
about updates. You know who you are! And if you’re not sure, just
e-mail me; I’ll do my best to fit you into my busy oblique-antagonising

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