Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Truly tasteless juxtapositions


In any circumstance, accessorizing that kind of cover story with that kind of ad would be, ahem, unfortunate.

But this holds particularly true for People magazine's cover story on Natasha Richardson, a classy actress (and, by the accounts of those who knew her, a classy human being) who passed away far too young.

But wait, there's more...The contextual ad generator for Gawker (which blogged about this) drew up a banner ad for the show "Head Case" next to this post.

(What - no ski resort promo, too?)

And the final indignity: "RIP" next to "John and Jen: Who Dumped Who?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poverty porn

In a recession, most people find themselves working harder - at their current jobs, at two jobs, at finding a job and at clipping coupons, refashioning bread wrappers and partaking in other labor-intensive thrifty behaviors.

In the midst of all this work, temptation exists to just say "screw it," sloth out on the couch with a six-pack of PBR and crash out to a marathon of "Mark and Olly and the Machiguenga" (if one still splurges for cable, that is - if not, substitute with Montgomery County Cable Access)

To resist, one need only turn to the Internet (preferably in a quiet, dimly lit, private place) for kick-in-the-butt motivation: Poverty Porn.

These are all those "OMG! OMG! OMG! We're all poor! Starving in the streets! Breadlines, breadlines, breadlines!" stories you've been reading, and they exist to scare the collective s**t out of the public.

If you do not work hard, work smart and do your best to be lucky, you will be one of the unwashed poor.

These stories follow a certain formula of genres:

Fall from grace: Humbled banker parts with yuppie past (in the comments, illustration why no good comes from sharing one's salary - you're either a rich slob or a poor slob)

The fall of the Brie eater: Food banks , now visited by those who never expected to be there. They always existed, of course, but now that the volunteers are the patrons, they're worthy of news coverage.

Formerly rich people embracing thrift as if it was a missing and mysterious Dead Sea scroll: Self-applied nail polish and fast exotic. I now feel a unique kinship and understanding with my poor yet proud brethren.

The ubiquitous tent city: Note the city official talking about "compassion," "tough love" and "zero tolerance" in the same breath. I don't tolerate you not having money! Lazy, lazy people! In the Amazon, the Machiguenga would leave you weak ones out on the hillside to die.

Excess amid the economic carnage: A Manhattan champagne brunch

"A 29-year-old man who works for a large investment management firm and was at Bagatelle’s brunch one recent Saturday and at Merkato 55’s the next, put it another way: “If you’d asked me in October, I’d say it’d be a different situation, and I don’t think I’d be here. Then the government gave us $10 billion.”

The lesson: No matter what the Dow is doing, some people will always make sure they're on top. And they really don't care if you end up in a tent city. Actually they'd rather not trip over you on the way to mimosas. So quit bitching and clip those coupons, sheeple.

And that is the power of Poverty Porn.