Betty Duffy

Monday, August 18, 2008

Will Pay for Advertising

I didn’t see any of the ads during the Superbowl this year because I was watching Masterpiece Theater, “Miss Austen Regrets” in another room while my husband and his brothers watched the game. I’ve never been a “one of the guys” kind of girl. But if I walked into the game room, or worse, one of the kids walked in there during one of the commercials we were greeted by major shushing because no one could stand to miss a word of the ads. If there had been a fee to watch the ads, my husband and his brothers would have paid it. And then, the following day, top 10 ads posted all over the internet. I’m sure the feature length Budweiser commercial is right around the corner.

The problem is that Miss Smartypants, here falls victim to the ads just as easily. I went to the grocery today and saw that Lucky Charms (my all-time favorite cereal) was marked down to $2.50 a box. I did not grow up on sugar-coated cereals, and I have tried to protect my children from them to a certain extent as well, but $2.50 for Lucky Charms never happens (they’re usually around $5). I also had a coupon for $1.50 off if I bought four boxes. To seal the deal, Lucky Charms offers Box Tops for Education which we recently started collecting, and I find a bit of satisfaction in our collection even though it is way more economical to buy generic cereal and throw a dime in a bag every time we finish a box. But to triple dog seal the deal, there were books inside the cereal box. Each box contained a free chapter of the Spiderwick Chronicles. I decided to give my kids (and myself) a taste of the good life.

I’m new to the chapter book genre of children’s lit. My kids have just arrived on the chapter book scene. I’ve completely missed the Harry Potter mania, and barely made it for a bit of Lemony Snicket. But I cracked open one of these Spiderwick books while I mindlessly shoved synthetic marshmallows into my mouth and found myself, yet again annoyed with what I as a consumer am expected to consume: The marshmallows were just right, but this pandering to a desire in parents to encourage their kids to read really gets to me. If it’s a book, it must be good; It has the word ‘Chronicles’ in the title; There’s a British cadence to the dialogue; It’s full of parentless children just like a Dicken’s novel. But these books are the phoniest product of arse I’ve ever picked up. And I don’t want to be a book snob. I have always remembered with fondness the fact that my parents didn’t hover over my shoulder as I read growing up. I read pretty much whatever I wanted. But I want my kids to have good taste in what they choose to read, not phony good taste that is just advertising for a feature length film in disguise.

But I got what I paid for.


Elizabeth said...

i love that you are so cruncy and stil buy lucky charms, my kids would live with you. my secret bad passion...velveeta cheese. well, at least you were looking out for a good deal and to increase your book collection, it was only $1.00 for the cereal, it's okay to throw the boook away, i give you permission.

Emily said...

Hmm, before you toss Spiderwick, Miss Snootypants, I'll make a defense. I've enjoyed all five of the Chronicles. Tony DeTerlizzi's illustrations are beautiful, in that Arthur Rackham kind of way, the plot has some clever twists, and the characters are likable (fencing is cool). You never did have much love fairy tales or fantasy, and would rather read Judy Blume or haul around a big book to look learned. The Eragon almost trilogy by teen wonder Christopher Paolini, on the other hand, is a such a whisper thin knock off of LOR and Star Wars that you wonder who the fools are who publish this stuff. And the boys loved it. I'm renewing my goal to force them to read Newberries and Caldecotts every so often to counteract the marshmellows they devour. Try Meet the Penderwicks: clever and fun, with a bit of romance and Bobbsey Twin adventure.