Posts

Black and White Lives Matter

Sexy Wild West Sheriff

THE IMAGE: A glammed-up aspiring actress / perspiring stock photo model pretending to be a 19th century Texas sheriff in the 21st century California sun, carefully keeping her Apple Watch out of the shot.

THE BAIT: A surprisingly sexy depiction of the American Wild West, heavy on saloon prostitutes.

THE TARGET: Men who've already viewed every salacious image of women taken after 1901, men who think high-quality digital black-and-white photos are really old, men with a healthy respect for law enforcement if it comes in the form of hot babes on horseback, traveling Burbank residents who miss home.

THE STUPID: Portrait of a typical Wild West sheriff: a slim 28-year-old woman in full makeup and professionally styled hair wearing a leather corset and a fashionable Kentucky Derby hat. This historic photo screams authenticity -- just don't pay attention to the hitch end of the trailer and modern buildings visible in the background. Pursuant to our strict policy of refusing to click on this craptastic content, I don't know how the headline ends; but my best guess is, "It's unbelievable how much we have ... become a nation of empty-headed ignoramuses." I'd never make it in advertising.

Infrastructure Week

Abandoned Island

THE IMAGE: A small, overbuilt, abandoned island with crumbling concrete buildings that looks like it was the scene of an accidental release of a top-secret, genetically modified virus that transformed its residents into maniacal flesh-eating zombies who gruesomely consumed each other in a horrific orgy of cannibalistic gore, but which actually is not that.

THE BAIT: A secret so dark and diabolical that it remained hidden for decades by powerful state actors until "Money Versed" bravely exposed it online in order to hawk terrible products and services.

THE TARGET: People who've never heard of Massachusetts, people who haven't seen Skyfall, cult members seeking a better venue for satanic rituals after being kicked out of the Y, mad scientists with poor geography skills, Brian Laundrie.

THE STUPID: That's Hashima Island, a former mining facility and current UNESCO World Heritage Site located a couple miles off the southwestern coast of Not Massachusetts, a.k.a. "Japan." It's been featured in several movies and TV shows. Strangely, despite no one being allowed on the island, it's a well-known tourist attraction with thousands of visitors each year.

You'll Never Be the Same

Watermelon Trick

THE IMAGE: A stay-at-home husband who will need a new nerd shirt proudly displaying the end result of a meticulous three-hour process of cutting open a watermelon in the most impractical way possible as his wife wearily sets down the pile of work she brought back from the office and imagines how she'll subsequently recount this event to her therapist.

THE BAIT: Some clever tricks to make you feel like your life hasn't been one colossal fuck-up after another.

THE TARGET: People who are willing to go to considerable lengths to impress their imaginary friends, people who love watermelon but hate the ease of serving and eating it in the conventional manner, people looking for a socially acceptable alternative to de-braining the skulls of dead hobos.

THE STUPID: In the inane idiosphere of sponsored content, nothing is just a tip or an idea -- it's always a "hack." If you discover a better way to dry out your smartphone after you accidentally dropped it in the toilet or eradicate your toenail fungus before beach season, you instantly become an ingenious mastermind who's solved the riddle of human existence. In this case, a time-consuming technique for creating the illusion of a rindless watermelon by wasting an entire second watermelon is presented not only as a "hack," but as a "life hack that changes everything," when, at most, it only changes the way you eat watermelon and your odds of ever having sex again.

The Spoof Is Out There

Crashed Flying Saucer

THE IMAGE: An excellent, high-quality color photo that clearly and unmistakably depicts a crashed flying saucer being investigated by the U.S. military in 1947, which would settle the UFO debate once and for all if only it wasn't a screen grab from a disappointing and unnecessary "X-Files" revival miniseries in 2016.

THE BAIT: Irrefutable proof of alien visitation that you can forward to your smartass astrophysicist brother-in-law who thinks he knows everything but is actually a stupid jerk.

THE TARGET: People who are tired of being told "I believe that you believe it" by concerned friends and loved ones, people who think if there's one thing we really need right now it's another thing to argue about, people who've spent the last several years urging Congress to declare war on Zeta Reticuli, people who have stronger feelings about Kirk vs. Picard than about Trump vs. Democracy, the Roswell Chamber of Commerce, Gort.

THE STUPID: This isn't CGI -- a production company actually built that life-sized saucer for "The X-Files," at considerable expense, so I'm sure they really appreciate the fact that some internet scammer is misrepresenting a picture of it to sell a bunch of crap. Regardless, even as a purported alien spacecraft, the image makes little sense. The saucer is still smoldering, suggesting that it's just crashed -- so why does it look like the military has been on the site for days, with portable lights already set up around the craft and a well-used dirt road leading up to it from heavy vehicle traffic? Why is the damage to the saucer on the side that didn't impact the ground? Why does the alien vessel appear to have been built using Earthlike rebar and welded steel? Perhaps that's what makes this photo "disturbingly controversial," in the same way that trying to buy a home pregnancy test with Monopoly money might also be considered "disturbingly controversial." But in neither case do I have a particularly strong desire to know more.