Can’t Say As I Ever Did

by Emily Hipchen

Emily HipchenCARROLLTON, GA—(Weekly Hubris)—9/27/10—So I’m talking with some friends about the bad rap high fructose corn syrup has gotten. A kind of smear campaign, pegging HFCS as the source of obesity, diabetes, yeast infections, the Obama presidency, earthquakes along the Pacific plates, and visions of Mephistopheles climbing the Chrysler building with the soul of Mother Teresa clutched in his paw. HFCS is, apparently, really globally bad news.

In response to the widespread dissing of corn syrup, producers of HFCS have begun making commercials describing their product as benign and tasty. In every commercial, the dumb-head who objects to HFCS can’t think of why it’s a problem, but the purveyor of the HFCS product knows why it’s not: “It’s made from corn, has the same calories as sugar, and is fine in moderation.” Alternately, “It’s made from corn, it has all natural ingredients, and is fine in moderation.”

This got me thinking about commercials for other benighted products. Say, for instance, cigarettes.

Of course there are PSA’s about cigarettes, tons of them. Some of them funny. But I was thinking straight commercials that present cigarettes as a product you should have. You know, like fast motorcycles you ride without a helmet, or leaky condoms.

Commercial 1:

[A cigarette and a cigar, sitting at a bar looking kind of dejected. Outside, there’s some kind of protest.]

Man in white cigarette costume, with rotten tomato splattered on filter: “Jeez, what was that about?”
Man in deep brown cigar costume: “People just don’t know about smoking, Phil. It’s all natural, comes right from a plant some Native American tribes worshipped, for Pete’s sake.”
White cigarette costume: “Right, I know. I know. Peace pipes and true spirituality. Using all of the bison, right down to its tendons.”
Cigar costume: “Exactly. AND it helps you focus and thins your blood so you have fewer heart attacks!”
White cigarette costume: “I know! I know! And when you use tobacco, you support HOME GROWN INDUSTRY!” [Puts on a Tarheels baseball cap.]
Both figures shrug shoulders and begin to smolder. They inhale, then exhale a thick plume of smoke with satisfied sighs.

Voice over: Find the Facts at You’ll be glad you did.

Commercial 2:

[White cigarette costume, burned down some and a little stubbed out. He’s in a bar, which doubles as his bedroom. Three colors of lipstick circle his filter. He has a tattoo on his left hand, one letter per finger: L-O-V-E. Tattoo on right: SMKN. He’s about 20. Suggestion of erotic repletion, yet bare shadowy smudges around “midsection” suggest horse-sized partial erection. Behind him, a pool game. In front, a wide-screen plasma TV. He breathes in, French exhales.

Cut to knuckles (slightly roughened). We read L-O-V-E. Cut back to med shot of Cigarette Man with woman in Virginia Slims costume now in his lap. [She bends down, breathes in his smoke, exhales slowly through her mouth.]

Virginia Slims: “Um, you are SO smooth.”
Cigarette man: “Um hmm. And you are so fine.”

[Hand with SMKN on it reaches around as they kiss. VS flares up at the bottom, cut to CU of ash dropping to the floor.]

Halle Berry voice over: We know you want to. We think you should. Find the Facts at You’ll be glad you did.


About Emily Hipchen

Emily Hipchen has been exiled to many locations, including but not limited to her current one, a small town about 30 miles east of the Alabama state line. She has many day-jobs. When she's not teaching writing and literature full-time, she edits two journals, writes grant proposals, publishes award-winning essays in creative nonfiction (and a book, Coming Apart Together: Fragments from an Adoption [Literate Chigger, 2005]), writes scholarly articles for conferences and publication, and runs an academic program. At home, she’s in charge of the dogs, the cooking (locavore vegetarian), the blogging, and the heirloom-rose-snobbery.
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