Friday, October 13, 2006

Popular permeation

The kids at work were arguing today about who was what superhero. They all wanted to be Batman. Naturally, I played the peacemaker (not the one with the gun) and assigned them roles. "You're Aquaman," I said, pointing to B. I made another one Batman, another Wonder Woman, another Hawkgirl, and so on. Then they asked me, "Who is R?"

Now, R is a child who is special, as in the Olympics. He's also rather hefty. He's not obese like some unfortunate kids; but he comes from East European origins and carries a lot of genetically-programmed weight on him. So I looked into his round, grinning face and said, "He's Bouncing Boy." And what do you know? One kid had heard of Bouncing Boy. I think he's on a cartoon about the Legion, but I've never seen it.

Anyway. I am turning my preschoolers into nerds.


Somewhat apropos, in that it deals with the permeation of popular icons and characters into the national consciousness, I received a spam email that contained a silhouette of a cowboy on a horse facing a silhouette of a camel. Above this picture were the words: "Which do you prefer?"

I only looked at the thing for the nanosecond it took to delete it, but in that time, I was baffled. Why would I have any preference between a cowboy and a camel? Was it, I reflected, giving the spam letter another picosecond of my precious mental attention, some kind of USA vs the Arab world thing, with the cowboy as America and the camel representing Islam?

A few dozen emails later, I got another of the same spam letters. This time, the screen had scrolled down a bit farther, and I saw that the images represented two brands of cigarettes.

I am so removed from the worlds of smoking and advertising (I don't have a TV and haven't listened to the radio in years) that this never would have occurred to me. I guess I'm not the target audience for that particular scam.

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