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by Adam Finley
|Opinionated Lizards: The Backbone of Big Business|
In the innocuous Minnesota suburb where I earn just barely enough to support my drug habit, much less pay rent, a giant corporation has moved in, forcing a handful of small businesses to move out.
Several residents are up in arms about the situation, but their anger, as righteous as it may be, is misplaced. The truth is that all of us have lived in a world run by corporations since the "Corporations Can Do Anything They Want" Pact was ratified in 1778. Forgive my defeatist attitude, but to become angry at such a situation is akin to hating water for being too moist. It's the reality we live in, and nothing either presently or on the horizon convinces me that it will change any time soon.
The question is: Where did corporations go wrong? Everyone from social scientists to anti-social scientists (the kind who have the cure for cancer but are too shy and introverted to share it with anyone) has provided their own theories. Some will argue that it's greed, a simple vice that turns even the most honest fat white person into an ever-enlarging entity living off the lifeblood of its corporation, growing fatter and fatter until it swallows the entire cosmos and comes face to face with God only to repeatedly punch God in the face until He's pummeled out of existence and the entire universe is renamed McEarth. I, however, have a different theory.
Geico, a car insurance company, recently allowed a small gecko to use the company's Web space for a blog. Since February of last year, this gecko has bridged the gap between a giant corporation and the common man with constant textual reminders as to the myriad ways Geico can make your life worth living again. This is exactly the kind of radical idea that transcends the customer/British lizard schism that has existed since the industrial revolution.
As I researched, I soon learned that Geico's idea is not a new one. Corporate history is overflowing with mascots who have served as interlocutors in the much needed but oft-ignored dialogue between corporation and consumer. What follows are a few examples from the latter half of the twentieth century.
Mr. Clean Fan Club Pamphlet, 1955:
Ahoy there, mateys! I've been very busy trying to get the word out about the new Mr. Clean Springtime Fresh Floor Rejuvenator. Since dames do most of the cleaning, I have better luck when their husbands aren't around. You'd be surprised what some of these ladies offer to do for (to) me when they're all alone. However, I'm just happy to see my smirking visage looking back up at me from that shiny floor, the existential implications of which sometimes leave me sobbing uncontrollably and questioning my place in your frightening and chaotic flesh world.
New Pine-Fresh Scent coming in March!
Mr. Aaron Clean
Crumpled note found in several Michelin tires in early 1962, purportedly from the Michelin Man (exact date unknown):
You like my tire? I take rubber and make circle for you DRIVE VERY FAST! I'm a racecar guy! GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!!
The first and only letter to consumers from Mitten, the mascot of "Hamburger Helped," a line of box dinners created in the mid-1980s as a response to Hamburger Helper:
Okay, so I'm in this lady's kitchen and she's like, "This hamburger is so boring. It sure could use some Hamburger Helper."
So I'm like, "You don't need any of that Hamburger Helper shit, cause this hamburger's already been helped, you fine-assed woman. I ain't given no charity to no half-frozen chunk of meat. I'm just trying to add another layer of sex to that fine booty-booty of yours. You don't need no meat begging you for attention. Get with some meat that's already been helped, Rebecca, I ain't runnin' no goddamn welfare service."
Of course, many of you will recall that Hamburger Helped was pulled from the shelves after only two weeks, most likely due to the company's slogan "We Ain't Running No Goddamn Welfare Service" which was emblazoned across the front of the box. Soon, other companies began to discourage their mascots from speaking to consumers directly, and eventually all communication was severed. Some consumer advocates protested, most notably Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam, who conspiracy theorists claim was shot twenty-seven times directly in the face and then replaced with a look-alike. It's an unfortunate situation, but with the right amount of delusion and a monthly e-mail from the Keebler Elves, we can fool ourselves into thinking our entire reality hasn't been co-opted by big business. It wouldn't solve everything, but it would make us believe everything is okay, and at this point in our existence, that's really all we can ask for.
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Other articles by Adam Finley: