Monday, January 24, 2011

Another reason you should hate MTV's Skins

MTV's new show Skins has lost a third sponsor and may be in violation of child pornography laws. As we learned from Jersey Shore, controversy often does more good than harm for generating buzz and viewership - lost advertising revenue aside, I predict the show will, regrettably, be a hit.

What producers can't applaud themselves for, however, is authenticity. Maybe it's because I grew up in the Midwest... but I'm completely befuddled by reviews like this Newsweek article that claim Skins "may be the most realistic show on television." Despite, or perhaps due to the fact that producer Bryan Elsley created the show with his 19-year-old son and employs teenage consultants and actors, I think it comes across as more teenage fantasy than reality. (Disclaimer: I couldn't sit through the whole thing, which says a lot, considering my usual zeal for trashy television.)

Consider, for example, the cheerleading scene... Apparently at Skins' high school, the cheerleaders wear bras for tops and end routines by groping the flier - who happens to be a lipstick lesbian.

The most realistic thing in the scene is the mascot perched upon each perky breast, which looks A LOT like the pride of UW-Madison - Bucky Badger.

If someone at MTV isn't locked up for child pornography, can they at least be prosecuted for defiling our beloved mascot? "The coolest school in America" should not be associated with this silly little show.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LAST CHANCE! (this week.)

I've noticed an annoying trend in my in-box: retailers that cry wolf. Although every subject line frantically warns me that it's my "LAST CHANCE" to get a discount, by some seeming miracle, the next day or week I usually get a similar offer. Once a sucker for any hint of free shipping, I have lost the sense of urgency that used to keep me online shopping at all hours of the day. Now I'm just running on boredom... which usually leads to more browsing than purchasing.

As somewhat of an e-mail marketer myself, I understand that through testing, you usually find that the dumbest subject lines, unfortunately, perform the best. But when it gets to the point where every sender is making the same empty threats, I have to imagine they lose their effectiveness.

I suggest companies stick to the tried and true "list" message: Top 10 Trends of the Season? Top 5 Shoe Repair Boutiques in Chicago? I don't care what is being ranked. I must find out who is no. 1. And if a freebie is thrown into the mix, even better. "Win the Top 10 Books of 2010"? ... yes, please.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cheer to the CTA

Although I didn't resolve to stop complaining this year (I refuse to deprive myself of my favorite pastime), I still think it would be nice to start 2011 off with an uncharacteristic rave about one of my favorite things to rant about: the CTA.

Waiting for the train at the Quincy/Wells station yesterday, I witnessed something in the flesh that I thought only existed in the delusions of CEOs and fabrications of press releases: customer service. I have seen customer service "emergency" buttons, but after mistaking them more than twice for heater and elevator buttons, I've concluded that they're just there for decoration. I've also seen customer service windows, but they're usually in front of empty chairs and covered with signs that say things like, "NO CHANGE PROVIDED."

I could go on ... but this post is positive. Yesterday I saw with my own eyes what I believe to have been a customer service representative... or at least a CTA employee providing a service to customers!

In an attempt to escape for a few minutes the misery to which we've condemned ourselves for 3 to 4 months by signing a lease or purchasing property in Chicago, commuters such as myself tend to wait for their train inside rather than freeze to near death on the platform. This can be quite a risk at stations that service multiple lines, however. Someone with her head in a very interesting book about Elizabeth the First that reveals just how laughable the nickname "Virgin Queen" was, for example, might not notice her train approaching and miss her chance to get through the door first and snag a seat - or miss her train entirely.

But yesterday this fine gentleman bearing a CTA badge took it upon himself to call out the trains as they were approaching. So I want to say thank you, CTA, for hiring and keeping an employee gruntled enough to add a bit of cheer to my commute - and New Year.
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