guest post: corny commercials cannot convey consumer constitution

keb is a regular contributor to the cactus garden's seeds journal. she specializes in visual/media anthropology, photography, and www design. she is vehemently for raging against stupidity and vehemently against tea partiers. in her free time she enjoys drinking coffee, all things shark related, and impersonating zombies.


some of you may have heard of the current push to rename / rebrand high fructose corn syrup. there have been a lot of articles about it of recent in popular media outlets. 

while watching diners, drive-ins and dives, a commercial came on. i so often try to ignore these, as i hate contemporary advertising. but there was one commercial that caught my eye: 'question mark.'

a guy. a dad. with a kid. his kid. in a corn field. proclaiming that he worried as a parent and started researching. he found that "whether it's cane sugar or corn sugar, your body can't tell the difference; sugar is sugar."

i'm sorry, but when did it become healthy to eat sugar at all? haven't we had it ingrained in our minds since childhood [specifically by dentists] that sugar is BAD for us?  

ah yes, while searching for the link to the article, i found i had already posted this in seeds some time ago: sugar high

i even brought up the dentist in that post! 

but to the point! - where the f did you come from? 

how did a commercial get on air, advertising to the populous that SUGAR, be it in whatever form, is a-ok for you, when this nation is battling obesity? when potatoes are being outlawed from food assistance programs and from low income schools? 

no matter how you look at it, obesity, and unhealthiness in general, is linked inextricably to lower level incomes. food that is good for you costs more. look at the produce section of the grocery store, for example. i remember last year at walmart, oranges went up in price by ten cents every week. organic is a whole other story. 

what i want to know, is how can this commercial be aired? what does this commercial say about our culture? about our priorities? corporations, like coca cola, pepsi, pretty much any processed food owned by whoever it is that owns them, insurance companies and that whole business, all of them have stakes in the outcome of this current debate, in this high fructose corn syrup business. 

who has the power here? the government? the corporations? the people with the money? [who probably aren't obese, because they can afford good-for-you-food and personal trainers and gym memberships.] 

does it matter that this is airing on the food network? that it is airing on a cable channel versus a network channel? 

who is watching this? there's the general assumption [at least by me] that those of lower incomes, those most susceptible to obesity problems, probably cannot afford to have cable. would they be seeing this? 

who is consuming this media? who watches the food network? any old 'regular' person? foodies? foodites? chefs, cooks, culinary wannabes? who is taking this media as a cue for how to live their lives? 

will viewers actually visit this website? will they do their own research? thoroughly? or will they watch a video, skim some facts, and read a press release, all promoting the acceptableness of corn syrup in the human diet? and will they believe it? 

and here i am, chain smoking cigarettes [which we know are bad for you] while raging about people promoting corn syrup [which we are pretty sure is probably bad for you, at least in certain ways]. talk about hypocritical.

so many questions. so little answers. i feel like it is time for a media inventory. for some hardcore anthropological investigations of media. i need some dickey, some spitulnik, a little askew and wilk, throw in some ginsburg for good measure. these are my idols. you know, besides anthony bourdain

so many research ideas, so little time.

oh man, how i miss this.