I love picture books. I love the sense of whimsy and wonder and humor that you can often find in them. I love Maurice Sendak and Mo Willems and Kevin Henkes. I remember one especially magical story from when I was a child, and was delighted to find it again as an adult and share it with my son. Of the myriad joys that come with raising a child of my own, one of the accessory pleasures has been getting to read with him and seeing all the great books there are for small children out there.
Of course we have accumulated lots of Dr. Seuss as part of our son’s library. He knows about Thidwick and the Cat in the Hat and green eggs and ham. (That last has actually been somewhat helpful in getting him to try a few bites of food in his pickier moments.) And one of his favorites is “The Lorax.” He goes through phases where he wants to read one book over and over, and “The Lorax” has gone through heavy rotation more than once.
If you’re not familiar with the book, it has a decidedly elegiac tone. It has moments of subtle humor, and ends on a hopeful (though certainly not exuberant) note. But from start to finish, it is a book about loss, specifically a loss brought about by greed and thoughtless consumption. Thus it was with unmitigated contempt that I greeted the candy-coated, slapstick animated version that came out last year. Since the estimable Mr. Kain has already written about it, I don’t need to reinvent that wheel.
What I find especially galling is that the central character of a mournful allegory about consumerism has since been made into just another advertisement, giving his ersatz seal of approval to products that are “environmentally friendly.” (I’m not the only one who feels this way.) So offensive is that notion to me that I refuse to buy any product with the bastardized Lorax gazing out of its label, even for products I would otherwise purchase. While I realize that the people at Seventh Generation couldn’t care less about one schmuck‘s refusal to buy their dish soap, it makes me happy to know my money won’t be implicitly endorsing their subversion of a cherished literary legacy.
There is one other product I refuse to buy because I find their ad campaign so impossibly obnoxious. I refer to Charmin, and its animated characters the Ass-wiping Bears. (I defy you to come up with a more fitting name for them.) These ursine abominations are shown in commercials repairing to the woods to void their bowels, then using the product in question for anal cleansing. Usually the shot cuts to the bear’s visage as it dissolves into an expression of bliss, evincing a kind of comfort that nobody on earth needs to see expressed on the face of another, even if it’s a goddamned animated bear. Further assaults on the eyes of viewers include ads touting the product’s resistance to adhering in little pills to one’s hindquarters, the real-life equivalent of which is no less revolting to contemplate when sublimated ineptly in cartoon form.
So long as those frigging bears are on the shrink wrap, I’m buying different toilet paper.
Which brings us to this week’s Question — is there a product or service you refuse to buy based solely on how it is advertised? Have you been so put off by a commercial that it made you less inclined to purchase what it’s selling? Has there been a Madison Avenue fail large enough to permanently poison your pocketbook?