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Archive for the ‘Concepts’ Category


Good Marketing

It only takes one good marketing campaign to turn a fly-by-night charlatan into an overnight millionaire. Regardless of how crappy the product may be, Good Marketing has helped sell billions of useless items to millions of gullible consumers for hundreds of years.

Case in point: Select Comfort Mattresses

Probably the biggest scam to enter the American bedroom since Enzyte, Select Comfort started bombarding the airwaves with advertisements back in the early nineties. Waterbeds had recently lost their luster, and the novelty bed market was wide open for a new player. Enter: the Sleep Number Adjustable Mattress.

Nevermind the fact that earlier models of the mattress are prone to mold and that they don’t last nearly as long as the company claims, let’s just focus on the fact that they are the least comfortable things you will ever rest your back on. Want to know why? Because it’s a goddamn air mattress.

People used to buy twenty-dollar air mattresses for camping until they realized it was almost more comfortable to sleep on the hardened earth. Even if you add an additional air chamber and slap a pillow-top on the thing, the support still sucks and the basic principles of displacement still apply, meaning you will flop and roll into the middle of the mattress the second your bedmate gets up to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

So then how has Select Comfort managed to sell hundreds of thousands of basic-model air mattresses at hundreds of dollars a pop? Enter: Good Marketing.

When the Bionic Woman goes on TV and tells you that she’s finally getting some restorative sleep after all these years, people apparently listen. Lindsay Wagner’s got a face you can trust and robotic strength. Why wouldn’t she be a sleep expert, too? Then all they had to do was plop the mattress down in the middle of a mall food court and point a TV camera at it. Suddenly the shopping denizens were crawling out of the woodwork, willing to say anything if it would get them on television. Record all that and play it ad-nauseum during the cheapest late-night slots you can afford and kaboom: you’ve made uncomfortable air mattresses respectable again through sheer repetitive hypnosis.

Oh, and you know how they claim to cost less than a conventional matress? No shit. It better. It’s an air mattress. It’s made of air.

Good Marketing is effing awesome.


 

Now that the seminal 70’s musical Grease is being run ad-nauseum on ABC Family Channel and Summer Lovin’ has been remixed for the dance floor of every wedding reception you’ve ever been to, people seem to have forgotten that the movie is fairy subversive when it comes to modern morality and social morays.

“Subversive” be damned; it’s downright hedonistic.

If you remove all the upbeat song and dance numbers and then boil the plot down to its most basic elements, you’re left with something like the following:

SlutIn a 50’s era highschool, a band of society-spurning renegade teenagers and their group of kept women have unprotected sex, stage dangerous automobile races, and engage in underage drinking with utter abandon. As one teenager comes to terms with her own teenage pregnancy, another outcast drops out of school amidst confusion and indifference about her lackluster future. Yet another must deal with the advances of a pedophile television host with a dangerously aggressive sense of entitlement. The boys callously ruin reputations by spreading tawdry rumors about sexual conquests that never happened (Summer Lovin’, indeed), while the girls deride each other with cruel disdain. And in the midst of all of this depravity, all eyes are on Sandra Dee, a wholesome outsider who must shed her comfortable skin by changing her appearance, subverting her morals, suppressing her own personality, and hyper-sexualizing her persona in a desperate attempt to keep the man she thinks she loves.

Kids, get the popcorn!

But if you look at it through slightly more forgiving eyes, Grease depicts real issues of real teenagers that most movies gloss over with saccharine sentimentality and unrealistically altruistic outcomes. Grease is different. The teenagers act like teenagers and learn lessons like teenagers and act like teen-aged idiots, and in the end the outcome does not exactly teach the lessons that your mama wants you to learn. By adding in song and dance numbers, Grease also gets the “wild, frivolous heyday of youth” aspect spot on as well. It’s all just a party to kids. It may seem goofy, but it’s probably one of the more realistic portrayals of stupid teenagers in all of film history.

And don’t feel sorry for Sandra Dee. Lord knows there are a lot of Betty-Sues and Sandra-Dees in the world — goody-two-shoe fuddy-duddies who are unable to let their hairs down. You’re only young once, and Sandy had some catching up to do. Good on her.

The morality of Grease is effing awesome.


 

Hoodie Humor

Sometime it’s just too much of an effort to have a personality, so you just gotta let your clothes do the heavy lifting. And only hoodies really have the versatility required for the job. Plus, they come in a wide variety of clever options:

Vaguely Political
Not sure what this implies, but surely it’s something profound.

Nostalgic
Something something pudding-pop something.

Mega-Nerdy
Live long and prosper, as long as you always have it zipped to the proper height.

Playful
All the neighborhood kids will think you’re a cool dad. All the neighborhood adults will think you’re mentally handicapped.

Ill-Advised
Nothing good can come of this.

Historical
You can play King every time you undress.

Nauseating
Would’ve saved Buffalo Bill a lot of trouble, though.

Esoteric
The people who understand will think you are the funniest production designer in the office.

Educational
But to get the full benefit you’d need to wear an undershirt with frog guts and half digested flies.

Creepy
Probably not the place you want people to think about putting their penis.

Clever
But won’t both sides always break even? That’s kinda pointless, unless you’re one of those “every one’s a winner!” types.

Over the Top
Maybe a little too Better-Off-Deadish to be taken seriously.

So give yourself a break and let your clothing do the talking.

Hoodie humor is effing awesome.


 

Stupid Teenagers

Stupid teenagers are the worst.

They truly understand next to nothing, yet they think they know everything. And annoyingly, you can’t convince them otherwise because they don’t even have the mental capability to understand the concept. Seriously. It’s hardcore science. Just like it’s impossible to teach a dog to talk due to their underdeveloped vocal cords, you can’t teach a teenager to understand their own fallibility or limitations due to their underdeveloped brains. It’s literally impossible to get through to the idiots.

Worst of all, they are old enough to engage in stupid, risky behavior, but not smart enough to fully understand the consequences. Their immature brains are not yet capable of avoiding risky behaviors because the brain systems that control basic cognitive and physical abilities develops way before the area that controls impulse and emotions. Whoopsie! Evolution really got that developmental pattern ass-backwards, didn’t it?

Or did it?

There’s been a lot of recent studies on the teenage brain. This is probably because the stupidity of teenagers seem downright fascinating at times, but regardless, a few theories have started to arise about why teenagers are dumber than a bag of hammers, and how this might actually be an evolutionary benefit.

One theory suggests (using some round-about logic that your average moronic teenager could never understand) that some “risk-taking among adolescents is evidence that they are trying out more adultlike roles. Having unsafe sex and driving too fast may be mistakes, but kids often have to experiment with limits in order to learn how to live within them. Which, in turn, is a sign of maturity.” So basically, it’s the mature ones who act the stupidest. And if the dunderheads survive their reckless youths, they will be all the better for it in the future. Well-adjusted even. Just don’t get in front of them if they are driving a car since “16,000 young people die each year from unintentional injuries.” Mostly in ridiculous car wrecks. On top of that, a slew of them become under-aged, unwed parents who are doomed to repeat the pattern of failsmanship. Apparently whoever’s left over seems well-adjusted by comparison, so that theory totally checks out.

Another, more plausible study suggests that a teenager’s stupidity could actually be an evolutionary benefit due to the fact that a teenager would never gather the courage to leave his childhood home and make a life of his own if his brain ware capable of understanding how dangerous the real world actually is. So for humans to continue to develop and thrive and evolve as a species, teenagers need to remain just stupid enough to take a few risky chances and to make a few bold moves before their brains can develop enough to make them realize how incredibly dim-witted, short-sighted, and crazy they have been acting for the last twenty five years.

So there you have it. Teenagers are stupid because it benefits the human race in the long haul. It’s survival of the mentally un-fittest. It doesn’t make them any less stupid or annoying, but still, you should probably thank them for being so bone-headed. And thank yourself, too. Because you were a stupid teenager once as well, but luckily you were just short of being stupid enough to recklessly kill yourself.

And if you’re reading this and thinking, “Not my kid. My kid ‘gets it’…” They don’t. They might be able to fake it in front of you, but if you could see inside their heads you’d be shocked at how little they actually understand. But the blindspot of a doting parent probably has some evolutionary benefit, too, so don’t sweat it too hard.

Stupid teenagers are effing awesome.

Benefiting the Human Race

Benefiting the Human Race


 

Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable tension that arises when your brain tries to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time. This mental discomfort often leads people to warp their attitudes, beliefs, and actions in order to reconcile the conflicting ideas inside their own heads, effectively reducing the uncomfortable “dissonance.”

Basically, in order to justify something to your critical self — like continuing to smoke even though you know it could kill you — you will completely rewire your brain to believe silly excuses like “well, it also makes me lose weight and reduces my stress levels, which are both good for me — probably better than not smoking altogether.” This way, you can actually trick your mind into feeling good about doing something bad — halting that pesky cognitive dissonance in its tracks — until you actually believe it.

In addition to justification tactics such as in the smoking example above, dissonance can also be reduced through blame or outright denial.

Headcase in point: Jim Caviezel.

Jim Caviezel was cast by Mel Gibson to portray Jesus in his controversial and allegedly anti-semitic cinematic retelling of The Passion of the Christ. The actor and the director were steadfast in their righteousness. They were going to tell the story as they thought it needed to be told, and even intimated that the Holy Spirit itself was actually directing the film.

Then, while filming the Sermon on the Mount, Jim-as-Jesus was struck by lightning.

Most people would take this as a sign from God, and not a good one. No doubt that a certain thought must have crossed Jim’s dissonance-addled mind: “Holy Shit, God doesn’t approve. But wait, I thought the Holy Spirit was supposedly directing this film…”

So in order to silence a cognitive dissonance that must have been deafening, Jim decided that the lightning strike was not a warning from God himself but rather a miracle granted unto him, because what is more miraculous than surviving a lightning strike? See? God wanted him to make the movie after all!

Of course, the depth of denial at play is the real miracle here. Someone needs to show Jim the Bible, or more specifically, the passage in the Bible where God strikes Saul blind, which causes Saul to re-evaluate his pitiful life, converting him on the spot. Luckily, Jim’s brain was kind to him, allowing him to completely disregard this awkwardly relevant precedent.

The brain is an awesome thing. It just wants you to feel good. It will do anything it can to achieve this goal. It will even totally deceive itself, just to ease your wicked nerves, if you’re not careful.

That’s why cognitive dissonance is so awesome. It’s like an alarm bell in your brain, warning you that your ideals just aren’t jiving and you need to take a step back and re-evaluate objectively. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you might be wrong, but it’s also wiser than most people could ever hope to be. Even theatrical Jesus. Especially theatrical Jesus.

So take heed the next time you sense a tension up there in your noggin. It’s a sign that you’re about to resort to idiocy in order to trick yourself into feeling better. Don’t let yourself be fooled by your brain’s constant craven need to be right all the time. Sometimes your own brain can be your worst enemy.

Ouchy

Cognitive dissonance is effing awesome!


 

Bad Luck

You’re driving down the road and you hit an unseen pothole, shredding your tire. While waiting for roadside assistance to change out your spare, it starts to rain. In the meantime you’ve missed your important meeting, ruined your shoes, and caught a cold. Sounds like your day was a perfect disaster. You must be a magnet for bad luck.

But unbeknownst to you, your tire was about to blow anyway, and had it not met its demise in the pothole today, it would have blown on the freeway tomorrow. The meeting you missed was a useless bust anyway, where you would have accidentally farted and irreparably damaged your reputation. And while purchasing a new set of shoes to replace your wet busted ones, you avoided a panoply of other disasters that were waiting for you in all the other possible paths you could have taken that day.

It’s an easy exercise: think back to your luckiest moment ever. Then trace it back in time, recalling all events leading up to that miraculous event. You could trace any moment of your life all the way back to your birth obviously, through any number of interweaving and complicated series of events, but you’ll see that you couldn’t have gotten to where you were at your luckiest moment without a few major examples of (what you considered at the time to be) very bad luck. Therefore, all bad luck eventually leads to good luck. Therefore, all bad luck is essentially good luck just waiting to happen.

Due to the infinitely complicated nature of cause and effect, every good thing that ever happens to you could not have happened without a bad thing before it. Plus, good luck only exists relative to bad luck. If you only ever had good luck, you wouldn’t consider it “good luck.” It would just be your everyday existence. Good luck and bad luck are intrinsically connected. Because of this co-relation, and because all good luck arises from bad luck, all bad luck is essentially good luck, if you just have the patience to wait it out.

Of course, your eventual death will probably be considered your ultimate experience in bad luck. And ending on that down note kinda sucks, because if all bad luck is good luck, then conversely, all good luck is also bad luck, and the very fact that we all unavoidably end on the bad luck end of the spectrum might make you want to go all half-glass-empty about your very existence.

But then no one really knows what happens after death. Maybe it will be the most bestest good luck experience you could ever imagine. And death aside, whatever bad luck you may encounter in life, you can rest assured there are infinite examples of even worse luck out there that you have somehow avoided. Aren’t you the luckiest person alive? You have bad luck to thank for that.

Bad luck is effing awesome.


 

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