Wednesday 9 January 2013

Lipsmackin' Thirstquenchin' Acetastin' Kidkillin' Pepsi

I've seen, heard and read some ridiculous hysterics from the public health industry over the years - the US state council leader who compared smoking in a neighbouring flat to putting your arm through the wall and pointing a gun at a child's head is a particular favourite* - but I think this trumps them all.

The New York Times' resident food scaremonger, Mark Bittman, has pushed the boundaries of even his own world-class level of absurd hyperbole while discussing celebrities advertising fizzy drinks. Disgust over the Sandy Hook school shooting seems to have been too good an opportunity for Bittman to resist.
Beyoncé Knowles would presumably refuse to take part in an ad campaign that showed her carrying a semiautomatic rifle. But she’s eager, evidently, to have the Pepsi logo painted on her lips and have a limited-edition Pepsi can bearing her likeness.
Because drinking a Pepsi is as lethal as being shot in the face by a Bushmaster .223, obviously. I'm surprised the comparison has never occurred to you before, aren't we lucky that there are people like Bittman around to remind us? It's well past time for a Scarface remake with Al Pacino announcing "say hello to my little friend" as he throws a couple of two litre Dr Peppers at the front door.

I wonder how Bittman came to believe that insensitive and wildly exaggerated hyperbole like this is acceptable? I mean, where could he have possibly learned such tricks?
Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in.
I think that may be a clue, don't you?

Of course, this example of 'anything-to-scare' tactics isn't at all new. As I've mentioned before, prohibitionists have always been keen to shamelessly ride the populist wave and piggy-back their prejudices on whatever disaster, moral panic, or ugly mindset is prevalent at any particular time. What's more, The Art of Suppression illustrates that the New York Times have been purveyors of the genre for nearly a century.
Although blacks tended to prefer cocaine to opiates, both drugs were disproportionately used by whites. Wright and his fellow travellers nevertheless focused on alleged acts of rape and violence committed by “cocaine-crazed negroes”. According to Wright, cocaine was the “creator of criminals” which drove “the humbler negroes all over the country to abnormal crimes.” Evidence of these crimes was anecdotal at best and it was patently untrue to claim, as the New York Times did, that cocaine made blacks impervious to bullets, or that “most of the attacks upon white women in the South are the direct result of the cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” These tales were so similar to the contemporary scare about liquor-soaked blacks on the rampage in the Deep South that it is fair to assume that one set of prohibitionists was borrowing from the other.
So you could say that Bittman is a bit of a traditionalist, proudly flying a flag for the long history of insane obsessives building a succession of ever-taller skyscrapers out of health molehills.

It's too much for this particular blogger to bear, though. Goodbye cruel world! I'm off to end it all by blowing my brains out with a Sprite.

* I can't find the link, anyone care to provide it?


Michael J. McFadden said...

Dick, one section of my eventually-someday-forthcoming sequel to Brains will included a dozen or so of my favorite attempts at satire over the years.

One of them is a piece inspired by a 2008 article that tried to draw a serious comparison between allowing someone to smoke in an apartment and allowing someone to shoot random shotgun slugs through the walls into neighbors’ abodes. This appeared at roughly the same time as another article which argued that diet sodas represented the next great health crisis and needed to be as heavily taxed and perhaps legally restricted for youth as tobacco products.

I put the two together and got…



It was a dark and stormy night. The glaring lights of the 7-11 Qwickee Mart on the corner sputtered, spangled, and sparked, casting an eerie glow over the surrounding dreary neighborhood.

A hooded teen pushed in through the doors. The place was empty aside from two store clerks who were jabbering at each other in Lithuanian or Zimbabwum or French or Vietno-Arab-Mongolianese and the teen headed back to the Soda Safes.

He pulled out a cold can of Coke 45 and ran up to the clerk at the cash register. The clerk started to ring it up while calling out the price when the kid suddenly started shaking the deadly can, priming it to blow before the befuddled bejabberer could reach under the counter for his sawed-off shotgun.

"HANDS IN THE AIR! NOW!!!" the kid shouted!

The merchants of death reached for the sky and backed away as the cold-blooded psycho-killer, a veteran of the Fizz Wars of the ’90s, reached into the open register and grabbed for the cash.

At that point the braver of the clerks reached for a Camel, intending to light it and cast a toxic cloud toward the armed teen but the kid was fast, too fast, and the top of the loaded can went off with a BANG!

Frothing, Fizzling, Foozelling Fantails of Coke 45 suddenly spewed sizzlingly across the intervening space and sent both clerks reeling toward an early grave as the marauding murdering miscreant mustered back out into the night.

Another sordid tale from the Naked City.



Junican said...

Don't forget that that the Zealots need 'Scriptures'. They have them in much the same form as the Old Testament and the New. The Old Testament is "The Studies" and the New Testament is "The Godber Blueprint".

Junican said...

Oh, and there are the miracles also - like the heart attack miracle in Scotland.

Jay said...

I've looked for that link you refer to in the first para, but cannot find it. Do you remember when you read that (a year would help narrow it down)?

Anyway, of interest to this post, is this link comparing Pepsi to Joe Camel:

"Pepsi’s Live for Now campaign, like the infamous Joe Camel campaign used
by R.J. Reynolds, is designed to prey upon these adolescent
vulnerabilities in an effort to reverse declining consumption trends as
well as to market a particular product."