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Good Creativity and Bad Information

Yesterday I set out late in the workday to arrange the printing of our Ethnic Press Directory, and managed to come back with the most unbelievable loot.

Not to imply I was slacking; I made sure the designer got through the last corrections, and took his file to the platemaker, and went to see the printer about paper samples. It wasn’t until later in the evening that I hit the Strand and continued my recent book-buying jag (first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, a sort of a response to the Chronicles of Narnia) and then continued on to Chinatown for a bag of lychees, which are in season.

But there was a lot of downtime at the printer’s and the designer’s, and man, people like that, you know, they have the neatest offices… The designer, in addition to having a shelf full of Seven Stories Press books whose covers he has designed, has accumulated a number of items from the Other White Meat promotional campaign (which I have previously written about in this space). I’ve found some of the materials for this campaign, like the “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Pork Loin” kind of funny, in a silly postmodern kind of way, but what I didn’t realize is that they’re running a rather hefty campaign aimed at children. It includes, I kid you not, a picture book in which two apple-cheeked white kids lead your through a tour of the “farm” where they live, which is clearly a tremendous factory-style operation, though the word “factory farm” isn’t used; there’s no consciousness that there’s ever been any other kind of farm, or that previous kids were encouraged to think about the little red barn with its horse and cow and litter of piglets.

A great deal of first-grade-level text is expended on getting you to think about the apparent spotlessness of the space where the little pigs live, and all the healthy stuff they eat, like corn and soybeans, and just how cute the little buggers are. Then there’s an abrupt transition to those happy moments when your stomach is filled with bacon, without captive-bolt stunners or butchering or any of the other truths of the meatmaking process from which farmers since time immemorial have rarely tried to shelter their children. (Note that article on captive-bolt stunners is about the practice’s possible link to the spread of mad cow disease, which I hadn’t heard of before.)

The designer had also gathered other elements of their battery of other PR tools, including a classroom poster which lists all the useful things “hogs” become a part of — cosmetics and buttons at home, concrete and floor wax in your school. (I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, floor wax was the first thing I thought when I thought “school.”) Also crayons:

Then there was a bookmark,

which thoughtfully and earnestly tried to challenge kids’ reading comprehension skills by having them use those unscrambled words in sentences like “The protein in pork gives kids the power to fight diseases and build _______.”

Fsck Stephen King — all I need to make the hair on my arms stand up is a big ugly PR campaign. I guess there’s a few bright sides… some vegetarian organization has taken‘s homonym,, and put up enough concise counter-propaganda and hideous pictures to slap my sliding vegetarianism into shape, at least… then, to boot, the Other White Meat site has one of those text areas which is somehow messed up and allows you to alter it, leaving me the opportunity to vent my frustrations:

If only that actually allowed you to change the page’s code… sigh.

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To be continued…

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