Ask Not For Whom The Bear Blushes... 2/10/04
I made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from a mix last night. I had high hopes for them, since the same company makes a GF snickerdoodle cookie mix that's really good.
I don't know how to describe the flavour, but "good" definitely wasn't it. They tasted like someone had decided that the cookies should taste like health food - a sort of whole-wheat chocolate chip with a hint of styrofoam flavour. Ugh. Cookies are one of those foods that really shouldn't be made over into a "healthy" version; like oven-baked french fries and fat-free salad dressing, the ersatz kind are just depressing. So, there's no need for me to use *that* mix again.
I tried to think up a smooth segue into my Valentine topic today - going from icky cookies to the day-that-celebrates-chocolate-as-long-as-it's-heart-shaped, but aside from the presence of chocolate and the similarity between the vaguely sick feeling you get when you bite into a bad cookie and the slightly nauseated sensation you get when you realize all your Valentine's day gifts came from the Dollar Store, there isn't much of a connection.
So, I'm just going to take a hard right turn here, if you don't mind.
Advertising always gets interesting this time of year - from the endless jewelry store ads touting compressed lumps of coal as a symbol of undying love ("Why are you still crying?" "It's not big enough... er, I mean, I'm still happy."), to the car ads touting a Lexus as a much larger symbol of undying love with crippling interest charges - and all of it's geared towards buying stuff for girls. I haven't even seen an ad for diamond cufflinks, and you'd think the jewelry stores would take any opportunity they could to sell more expensive useless stuff. But as always, guys don't get anything for Valentine's Day, because apparently we all feel that putting out is the best gift you can give your man on February 14th.
It doesn't seem fair; I mean, aside from the revolting polyester satin boxer shorts with cute sayings and hearts that seem to proliferate this time of year, there just isn't anything cool to give the man in your life except you, dressed in lingerie - and that's kind of depressing to think about. Not because I don't like lingerie, but because it somehow perpetuates the idea that sex is something a man buys with gifts and flowers, rather than an continuing expression of love. Alternatively (in case I've suddenly spoiled your Valentine plans), power tools are a nice thoughtful gift. Remember: Horsepower = Manliness. Don't sell your guy short!
Anyway, in amongst the straightforward "Guys! Buy something sparkly and you'll get laid" ads, there's one that adds a sinister new level of anxiety to the whole Valentine's Day neuroticism. It's a Hallmark ad - Hallmark being the bastion of all that is cute and evil (except me, I'm an independent contractor) - and shows a girl running down some steps in a flowy gown (you don't see her face - this is important later), dropping a teddy bear in an obvious play on the whole Cinderella thing (it's not entirely clear it's a Hallmark ad at this point, but as soon as you see the teddy bear, you know something's not right). The guy, completely captivated by a woman who would carry a teddy bear around in public, goes from door to door (somehow knowing which neighbourhood she lives in), trying to find the match for the toy he clutches in his hopeful hand.
**Insert amusing bit with cat here - in fact, my favourite bit of the ad**
The right girl opens the door, the teddies in their hands kiss (and one blushes), and it's happily ever after. Suddenly the scene fades, and the same girl is in the Hallmark store, holding the teddies, and you realize it's all an elaborate fantasy she's cooked up because she clearly isn't on enough medication.
Many things disturb me about this ad. For one thing, is she going to bring those damn teddies everywhere? Will she drop one of them at the feet of every cute guy she sees?
If she's doing it in bars, this could get messy - and a beer-soaked, cigarette-ash-encrusted teddy bear is just kind of gross. And what if it doesn't work the first time? Will she keep doing it? Will she become known as "The Teddy Girl", psychotically hurling an increasingly filthy stuffed toy at guys she wants to date?
It's a unique pick-up method, I'll grant you that.
Our girl is interesting, too. Cute, but not beautiful - a little chunky (i.e., normal-sized outside the advertising world), okay hair, slightly alarming tendency to dress like Kelly Clarkson (scarves should really only be worn when one is cold), very girl-next-door. She's the best-friend-who-doesn't-get-laid type, and it's actually a slight shock when she opens the door to the guy, because she isn't the willowy blond Cinderella type at all.
Which is presumably why she's in a Hallmark store concocting elaborate Cinderella fantasies involving midnight jaunts with teddy bears. She's clearly single - she wouldn't be daydreaming about romance in a Hallmark store if she was with someone (though she would have combed through the entire rack of Valentine cards, trying to find the one that describes "their" love perfectly, not realizing that her boyfriend not only won't pick up on the sentiment, but will probably lose the card on the way home from their date). I assume we're supposed to identify with her, but honestly, haven't most of us decided that being swept off your feet by a guy you hardly know is a sure-fire guarantee of relationship disaster? I suppose Hallmark is hoping we'll be momentarily blinded by the romantic ideal of a guy who will singlemindedly search until he finds his perfect teddy bear, but it just kind of creeps me out.
Bob says if she was more beautiful, the ad wouldn't work, because there'd be guys lining up to give her teddy bears - she ha* to be slightly pathetic and not as 'advertising-beautiful' as normal for her fantasy to be believable.
Ah, the wonders of "inferiority complex" advertising! Initially, I wasn't sure it was a smart idea to pitch the product as only suitable for single girls still expecting their prince to appear magically at their door, but now I understand the sheer genius of the campaign.
Which demographic feels left out on Valentine's day? Who is likely to walk into a Hallmark store and actually buy something just because it's cute? Who normally stays away from cute heart stuff during February, because it's a miserable reminder that society doesn't think you're successful unless you're hitched?
Well, it's not single guys, that's for sure.
Unless they're buying the bears for target practice.
When you care enough to shoot the very best, eh?