Product placement

I recently purchased a tube of Nivea Body’s Goodbye Cellulite lotion. This is how it’s packaged:

evil in a tube.

First of all, I cannot deny my vanity. No one can, right? Nonetheless, I have to admit that the purchase was despite my knowing better. In fact, the first time I picked up the the box was in a CVS, and I realized upon glancing at it for a second that I was only getting it because of an advertisement I’d seen in, of all things, a People magazine StyleWatch issue that had a note from the editor about targeted advertising stuck into the front (it DID come in a swag bag that I got from a People-magazine sponsored party, so go figure).

The ad was full of stick-thin women in bikinis, Photoshopped within inches of themselves, presumably so overjoyed that this product had given them the confidence they needed to be truly fulfilled. Standing in the CVS with the box in my hand, I thought of the artifice of all that — of the promise that a product could make you into a more full person, let alone one that retails for $13 and doesn’t require a prescription — and was suddenly kind of sick and embarrassed, and the stuff was overpriced, so I immediately put it down, feeling genuinely ashamed for falling prey to just the kind of targeted advertisement I thought was was so good at avoiding.

A week or so later, I was on an aimless amble through the drugstore section of Target and I came across the same product, on sale for a few bucks less. I was tempted, but didn’t bite — and then, two preppily dressed girls came across it after I had turned my back.

“They have my stuff!!!!” one exclaimed, reaching for a box. “And it’s on sale.”

“Does it really work?” the other asked. (She was clearly the follower.)

“Totally. It’s amazing. You just remember to put it on right after you get out of the shower.”

And, with that, she dropped a box into her friend’s basket. (There was no protest.)

This was such a stunning on-the-spot endorsement that I briefly considered turning to them and asking, Really? Is it that worth the $8? Kind of like Nivea’s ad rep’s wet dream: Three women, chatting about the virtues of a lotion that promised to erase their cellulite and give them piece of mind, regardless of their obvious clique differences. I declined, instead waiting until they left the aisle to get my own box. They were probably sorority sisters or something, but in the situation it didn’t matter, because I seamlessly related to their vanity. I just probably wouldn’t have talked about it openly with another female.

So I bought the goop. It’s blue, and I’ve been slathering it on my “problem areas” for about a month now. And it occurred to me today that I have no idea if it has actually done anything for me. Because honestly, other than knowing that I (like nearly every normal woman) had some cellulite, I never really thought about it. What this lotion HAS done: given me cause to obsess over the mere suggestion of cellulite, to look at my legs and stomach and thighs on a regular basis and assess how dimpled or flabby or imperfect they might be. Where I used to just have skin, I now have the aforementioned problem areas. This new, Goodbye Cellulite lotion-generated awareness, after all, is what would keep a normal woman moored to this product, loyal to it above all else. Ahhh, months and months of consuming women’s magazines, despite the underlying contempt. What a good mindless consumer I’ve become.

In the end, it’s just some damn lotion. Maybe I can choose to stop using it and move on with my life. Or maybe from now on my subconscious default will always be a little extra-critical of myself, in a totally pointless and self-defeating way.

My reluctance to carry on with “normal” life — marriage, kids, playing by whatever rules — could very well be because I am too aware of the inequities and facades that exist … everywhere. Most people are happy to gloss over them, but — much like I can’t deal with the inherent depressing reality of manipulative advertising — I will always be frustrated by what I can’t change. All I can do is try to not be fooled into becoming a sheep.

June 12, 2008 at 10:44 pm Leave a comment


Here’s a pic of my favorite Brit celebrity, Victoria Beckham, apparently seeing something really, really icky at the recent Marc Jacobs runway show at Fashion Week:

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If you haven’t been paying attention (lucky you — as part of my job I couldn’t help but stumble over it, but it wasn’t all bad), Fashion Week has been going on in NYC all week. Jezebel has been covering it in a fantastic tongue-in-cheek kind of way and has great photo galleries from some of the better shows, like Heatherette and Betsey Johnson.

The Post’s own Robin Givhan, who I’ve never met but have spoken with on the phone a couple of times, had her own take on the Marc Jacobs show — which apparently started over two hours late. As Jezebel pointed out so well, Robin is “an on-time sort of gal in an ‘I’m soooo sorry, but like, I just got his [sic] Patek Philippe watch, and like, I keep mixing up the big hand and the little one?’ sort of industry,” so she had absolutely no mercy for Marc. And neither did Posh! Great minds think alike.

The Screwface: Victoria Beckham [Kickette]
Dear Mr. Jacobs: Buy A Watch
WaPo Fashion Critic Robin Givhan’s Dog Molests Shoes; Marc Jacobs is to Blame [Jezebel]

September 13, 2007 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

Walking in Ron’s footsteps

Good morning, dear readers. Not much going on yet … I’m still sipping my coffee and grasping for alterness while I scour the headlines.

Get a load of this! Via the CityPaper: The Scientology church on 19th Street in Dupont Circle (also known as the L. Ron Hubbard House) is now offering tours! In fact, L. Ron actually started his religious revolution right there in that very house:

It took about a year to restore the house to L. Ron’s use of it in 1957, which is around when he performed the first Scientology marriage there and a few years before the FBI raided it, seeking clues about suspected ties to Communism. And now you can, by appointment, “walk through the Hubbard Communications Office, past the desk where Ron’s personal secretary typed his policies and technical bulletins and transcribed his recorded lectures.”

City Desk: The L. Ron Hubbard House: Get There Before Travolta [CityPaper]

September 12, 2007 at 11:54 am 3 comments

Thickening the plot

If you are lucky enough to live in D.C., or any other city where “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” (trailer above) is playing, you really should go see it. In a nutshell, it’s a documentary about two men vying for the world’s highest score in the arcade version of Donkey Kong, and it has lines in it like, “Don’t get chumpatized.”

I won’t elaborate here, but here’s a link to a blogger’s account of e-mailing and talking over the phone with Billy Mitchell, the film’s Darth Vader-esque character. (Apparently, Billy isn’t that bad! And he’s polite to critics. Maybe if I call him he’ll talk to me – or share some of his hair-care secrets.)

Anyway, the blog post gets into some accusations of Billy’s that the “King of Kong” filmmakers cut certain scenes in certain ways such as to make Billy look like more of an ass than he really is. Says the blogger:

Near the end of the film there is the ‘infamous’ scene where Billy and Steve Weibe meet for the first time at the Guinness Book of World Records tournament (which Billy states was a one time deal put together by the producers of the film just for the sole purpose of getting he and Steve Weibe into the same room). In the film Steve is playing and Billy walks behind him as Steve turns around and says “Hi, Billy”. Billy ignores Steve and walks off saying to his wife that “there were certain people he did not want to spend too much time with”. … Billy states the reason he did not know what I was talking about is because in real life he claims he said “hello” back to Steve but the producers must have cut it to make it look like he completely ignored him. He may be right, I recently saw the film again and sure enough there is a camera change right at the moment Billy is standing behind Steve. Billy said the reason he did not spend too much time watching Steve play is because the group of people that like to “Stir the Sugar” (Billy does not use expletives) would accuse him of “stealing Steve’s strategy”.

I don’t know about you, but I am going to incorporate “stir the sugar” into my lexicon ASAP. Then I found this in the comments section, from “dwayne”:

For most people who don’t have this hobby like any specialization there are many things that are not made public because know one really cares other then people who are interested. Bill’s high score is 1112000. He has it on tape but does actually like to do it in public. I knew Bill had a million on dk long time ago, 2000-2001.

Bill is the most famous video game player but I am recognized as the best player alltime. I was interviewed for both the kok and chasing ghosts but they cut most of the footage out of myself. It doesn’t bother me too much seeing what happens to the public figure.

But soon enough you will be exposed to the proof that this film was made by weibe’s friends and we didn’t even know he was in the picture they were making and they ahve lied about almost everything except the proper way to say weeebe! hahaha
cheers dwayne

Oh, SNAP, dwayne! You’re right, it’s probably all a conspiracy against you.

This is why this movie was so great. I think the filmmakers’ greatest accomplishment, whether they were friends with one of the players or guilty of selective editing or not, is that they unearthed the hyper-competitiveness of video gaming and presented it in an incredibly relatable way. I was somewhat aware of how seriously people take their video games before seeing this film (and the resulting commentary), but now I am in awe of it. These players really do think of themselves as athletes of sorts, trying to outdo the other guy in stamina and concentration and hand-eye coordination. It’s actually fascinating.

The best part of all of this is what comes out in a transcripted e-mail exchange between Billy Mitchell and this blogger (emphasis mine):

Midwesterner: I also read you recently broke the record again for charity which is fantastic.

Billy: There is actually a much larger charity in the planning in September in Bethesda, Maryland. It is at a Cancer Research Center. I have been asked to attend. It is quite flattering that I was asked to attend and that they canceled the gentleman was the 1st winner of Donald Trump’s Contest The Apprentice ( his name?)

OMG! Did I read that right? I don’t really know what “charity in the planning” or “they canceled the gentleman was the 1st winner” means (and actually, Bill, having them cancel on someone who won “The Apprentice” because you said you would come isn’t that cool, it just means you’re cooler than someone who won the privilege to be Donald Trump’s indentured servant), but does this mean Billy Mitchell is coming to Bethesda this month?? I left a comment on this guy’s blog in the hope that he will do some more detective work and let me know. Because if there’s one thing I could really use right now, it’s a Facebook photo of me and Billy Mitchell.

September 11, 2007 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

LOLZ: I has your Brita

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[Editor’s note: I have no idea who produced this photo, so I can’t give them proper credit for doing so. Luckily, suing me would cost way more than could ever be yielded from my assets and bank accounts (they’re not Swiss and/or bottomless; they’re Bank-of-American, and they include free checking). Anyway, if anyone DOES know who deserves credit for this fantastic thing, let me know so I can buy them a drink. -M]

September 11, 2007 at 3:47 pm 1 comment

It’s Britney, bitch!

If you’re like me, you secretly like to listen to Britney Spears sometimes. Like when you’re forcing yourself through a workout and can’t get enough of “Slave 4 U” or “Toxic,” or when you’re on deadline trying to finish a blurb about her washed-up career and need some inspiration.

So then you’ll have to agree with me that she is really cooked. If you don’t know what I’m taking about, and even if you can’t stand the thought of looking at or listening to her, you will at least be able to agree with me about her sad lapse of … whatever it is she used to have (I’m not so devoted to her that I can call it bold-faced “talent”) once you navigate through this convenient and educational summary of her career trajectory.

Exhibit A
This was then. Watch Britney’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2001:

Sure, she was probably lip-syncing. But doesn’t she look fabulous? And self-possessed? And like someone who knows how to dance extremely well? And, yes, I do feel bad for the snake (and the panther), but the image of her holding that python was one of the most iconic ones ever taken of her. She looked like a hot Amazonian badass. This was at the height of her career, mind you. Some other facts about Britney at this point in her life: single, not a parent.

Exhibit B
This is now. Watch Britney’s, er, performance at last night MTV Video Music Awards:

Six years, Kevin Federline, two babies and several bad life decisions later, Britney Spears looks like a drunk teenager who stumbled onto a stage in a bathing suit and thought it would be funny to try to dance. She is definitely not singing – the vocals that are playing are processed, not even what a normal sung voice would sound like. Oh, and then there’s the whole thing how her mouth isn’t moving but there’s stuff being sung.

To make matters worse, did you get a load of those cutaway shots? Rihanna is laughing at her. 50 CENT LOOKS UNCOMFORTABLE. 50 has survived multiple gunshot wounds, and I am guessing it takes a lot to make him uncomfortable. That’s what Britney Spears has become, people: a situation that makes 50 Cent feel awkward. If that’s not sad, ya’ll, I don’t know what is!

September 10, 2007 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

While I was out

It’s been three weeks since I last blogged, and even though I am really only blogging to myself right now, the lack of written self-expression has been getting to me. I feel like I have so much to say! And so much to post on the Internet about what I learned since I posted last:

1. If someone tells you to go to something called “Rock the River,” resist at all costs.

2. Britney Spears has truly lost it (more detailed audiovisual post to follow).

3. IKEA is a lot like a theme park: it’s glittery and there are attractions, food and bathrooms, and upon leaving you feel broke, damn tired and kind of dirty.

4. Whoever has been living in the garage had an issue with my car — specifically, the back passenger-side window’s level of intactness.

5. It’s fun to watch cars explode in, well, any controlled instance.

September 10, 2007 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

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