Thursday, January 22, 2004

violent candy

I haven't been feeling especially profound the last couple of days, or for that matter, particularly intelligent. Not only do I need to get packed and ready to leave for Detroit, but I've had an article to write, a plagiarist to deal with, and I need to sanitize my studio so it can be used as a guest room for a visiting dignitary (part of the deal I have with the larger space to which my space is connected.) Did I mention that I haven't been sleeping much? Would that I had a good story for that, but I can only say that for one night; otherwise it's all about slogging around online and sorting through what must be fifteen years of accumulated stuff. And doing laundry.

Have you ever seen a cat do that thing where she sits on her rump and raises one hind leg to clean it, and then forgets what she's doing? Gets distracted by something else? And there's that leg up in the air, forgotten? I love that. That has to be one of my favorite cat things, just as much as I like when dogs with floppy ears get their ears kind of folded inside out. Especially when the cat tries to play it off, yeah, I meant to do that.

Right now, I am that cat. No intimation of rumps or tongue baths intended, although you can go there if you like and it makes this post more interesting (I'm told sex sells.) No, I keep lifting something up to deal with it, and getting distracted, and object or project one is still mid-air. Yes, yes, yes, I have a list. I have several. But they're not all in the same place, or even legible. And if I'm not wearing it around my neck (which is not a bad idea), a list is only so helpful.

So I sit at my archaic computer, waiting for it to load whatever morsel of data I need, and then I'm up and putting books away, or starting a collage, or reading something, or sorting receipts. And I've been eating these Chewy Spree things. I remember when Spree came out; I was a teenager, and they were sort of the succesor to SweeTarts (which, incidentally, now also come in a strangely gritty chewy format.) They're not chewy in the gummi sense, and they're a little larger than the old Spree, but the flavors seem to be about the same. They're pretty good, even if there's no chocolate on or in them anywhere. I probably shouldn't have eaten all seven ounces over an eighteen-hour period, though, especially now that I've finally read the label and discovered that they're all transfats, corn syrup, and pine tar (not really on the last; old joke between my father and I).

What I find striking--pun intended--is that the tagline reads: "It's a kick in the mouth!" Now, I find that rather disturbing. I think, kick in the mouth, and the first image that comes to mind is losing my teeth. Which will probably happen if I eat any more of these things, but that's not what they mean; a short sharp shock, versus nasty slow decay. I have to wonder, who came up with this and thought it was enticing? Isn't there another way to indicate that what we have here is a bright green bag of very tangy, vaguely fruit-flavored candies that resist the teeth just a little more than your average gummi bear?

It's part of a disturbing trend I've noticed--and this is backed up by the online 'zine beerframe--towards attaching aggressive adjectives in unlikely places. Lately it's been happening to colors, but just as often to foods, and sometimes to both at once. Check out, for example, "explosive green!" ketchup.

Why is this?

Is food not exciting enough that it needs to blow up? That it needs to kick in your teeth? Is this barely sublimated fear of terrorism? A sense that we don't work hard enough for our food and must learn, once again, to fight and kill it? Food that fights back: that's what the packaging is telling us. Now I recognize that this sort of branding is most common in foods that are being marketed to kids. And there's a historical precedent for marketing food to kids with violence: think of the Kool-Aid guy breaking through walls to provide his malic acid goodness to children everywhere who were afraid of real juice. Or the rabbit who was always getting the toast kicked out of him when he tried to get cocoa puffs. A-ha, it's coming clear. The people building the products now are my age. The violence/food meme is strong in us, and we're transmitting it wholesale to the next generation.

I'm reading Robert Anton Wilson right now, and you really don't want me to analyze this phenomenon along his cicrcuit model of human consciousness.

Chewy Spree? Anyone?