27 October 2007

Twenty Years Ago

10-27-87 Tuesday. I’m troubled by certain advertisements that have recently appeared on television. They’re apparently produced by the beef industry. The slogan is “Beef: Real Food for Real People”. I’ve seen two actors so far: James Garner and Cybill Shepherd. In the Garner ads, he talks about eating “real food” rather than vegetables and other fare, then sits back with a large, juicy steak. Music plays in the background. In the Shepherd ads, the setting is again Texas or someplace in the west. Men wear blue jeans and cowboy boots, while the women are dressed in traditional feminine clothing like dresses. The message of the ads is one of machismo, and specifically that only sissies and wimps eat vegetables and bread. The troubling thing is not that arguments are presented on behalf of beef-eating, but that they’re not. Instead, the beef industry has gone in for nonrational persuasion. The idea is to get viewers to associate beef with things that they already desire or value, such as hardiness, machismo, pretty women, and fast cars. Beef, they want us to believe, is part of a healthy and happy lifestyle. Needless to say, this is false, and if I get a chance to say it publicly, I will.

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