As a general rule I hate advertising. I think it's a sickening, pus-swollen sore on the face of twentieth-century capitalism. I think the people who dedicate their lives to this industry are prostitutes of the worst kind. Maybe I shouldn't say that; it's too demeaning to prostitutes. At least they provide a desired service. Advertising, especially the sort of life-style advertising prominent today, is neither desired nor needed by anyone. It exists solely to convince us we want crap we don't need. (See, for example, John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society.)

Nonetheless that doesn't explain my intense aversion to the latest campaign for Coca-Cola's Fruitopia. (Did you know Fruitopia was a Coca-Cola product? Probably not. Part of the campaign is a deliberate effort to make you think that Fruitopia is made by a small, friendly company like Snapple instead of a big, mean, union-busting, corporate terrorist like Coca-Cola. Of course Snapple is now owned by Quaker Oats; but as usual in advertising only image counts, not reality.)

Anyway, to get back to my main point, why do I find Fruitopia's "Face it. We're a nation of feel-gooders and have-funners" campaign so obnoxious? Theroretically, I support feeling good and having fun. Am I secretly a closet Puritan who thinks we're all no-good-shits who should feel bad? (Can you tell I've been reading more Robert Anton Wilson lately?) Perhaps. But I think what really galls me more than anything else about this campaign is the exclusivity of the "Feel-good-Have-fun" theme. It seems to be saying that this is all there is, that there is nothing else to do in the world except feel good and have fun (by drinking Fruitopia, of course.) The Fruitopia campaign suggests that there's no place for working hard and taking satisfaction in a job well done; that there's no reason to spend your time working in a soup kitchen or lobbying against spam; that we should all just feel good and have fun, and let the world turn underneath us while we contemplate our navels and drink Fruitopia.

I don't believe that. We human beings are complex creatures with a wide range of emotional and physical needs. Yes, we need to feel good and have fun, but we also need to work hard for things we believe in. We need to compete with others, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. We need to help people who need our help. We need to particpate in the decisions that govern our lives. Sometimes we even need to be sad and mourn, and not feel very good or have any fun. It's all part of being human.

The problem isn't the feeling good and having fun. It's the idea that this is all there is; that it's all we should do. And the fact is, a nation in which all anyone does is feel good and have fun would be as sickeningly sweet, boring, uninteresting, and unfulfilling as Fruitopia itself.

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Copyright 1997 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified June 23, 1997