I was listening to an interview with the ever-bombastic Keith Olberman on NPR the other day and found myself shaking my head with a smile on my face more than once. That guy knows his way around a dictionary and a thesaurus, blindfolded, I bet!
Then, when I was leafing through an old notebook of my own writings, I came across something that made me think: “Damn — I coulda been a contender!”
Here is a letter I wrote at 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, 1989 in Olathe, Kansas:
I just viewed your “Hormel Sloppy Joe vs Manwich” commercial for the first time. I must tell you, I found it highly offensive. The violence portrayed by the mock bullet hole-in-sauce was enough to thoroughly insult me both as non-committal viewer as well as possible consumer, but the red, oozing theatric of the lumpy liquid was quite insensitively unnecessary and totally overdone!
This procedure, too closely correlating a human shot gun-at-the-OK-Corral scene, going so far as to depict ketchup-stain imitation blood, caused me great distress, dismay, outrage and yes, repulsion. I can only cringe in horror at the rapidly approaching certain viewing of this wretched commercial by my non-violent, peace-loving and innocent three young children. How alarmed they will surely be at the sight of their present-day favorite Friday night supper as it dribbles death-like down the shirt-front jar of the visibly labeled, although somewhat stained and marred Sloppy Joe Mix. How disgusted they will certainly feel when they watch, unable to pull their eyes away from the fascinatingly macabre and grotesquely riveting meal at hand.
Is this “meal,” depicted now and forever in our tainted minds as a gun shot wounded, dying, chunky-tomato sauce-dripping outlaw, brazenly being marketed as cannibalism, dressed up in a jar?
How then explain to my 4 1/2 and 6 year old the too familiar similarities between the visuals of this commercial and a cowboy shoot-out?
The stains like blood down a shirt front vs thickened ketchup oozing from bullet-shaped (and bullet-sound effected) holes in the sauce jars?
I believe this commercial to be totally mired in bad taste. As a past consumer of your product, I request that you pull this disgusting charade of marketing pulp off the video air waves. It is disgusting, offending and against all basic mores and agreed laws of life. This corrupting segment of visual garbage should be tossed back into the stockheap of unwanted, unused, unusable and unacceptable toxic-waste commercials — exactly from where it most evidently came.
Word of advice: Use material that makes people watch in happy, mindlessly wondrous fascination — not grotesquely staring in morbid dementia. I think it will work better in selling a food product.