There's war being waged in the shadows, and for once it doesn't involve CIA operatives funneling arms to quasi-militias in unstable Latin America outposts. No, this war is far more grave and sinister: It's a war for jerkyfied-meat mindshare. Specifically, mine.
Wherever I venture on the web, I am met with beef jerky ads. Perhaps this is a commentary on my lower-middlebrow tastes, which range from fantasy sports to explosions, or maybe it has something to do with my grouping in an itch-where-it-scratches demographic. Either way, I cannot dodge the jerky. I'm not frustrated by this so much as I am fascinated. Are e-targeters really that wired in to the online habits of the me-so-hungee crowd?
All that's left for me to do, besides purchase these miracle sticks/shards of "beef" and spike my blood pressure into Bill Clinton territory, is concede defeat. So: Fine, Misters Slim Jim and Jack's Links, you win. I will devote the next 47 minutes of my life and several hundred precious pixel-inches to a sober-minded discussion of beef jerkies and the videos that flog them.
(Before I do, though, a question: If one were to create a taxonomy of meat-like substances, under what heading would beef jerky be listed? Cured meats, maybe? I don't ask this rhetorically; I'm genuinely curious. Anyone who provides a satisfactory answer to this question will receive a polite thank-you note via email.)
Anyway, the Jack's Links clips are less willfully, aggressively obnoxious than the Slim Jim ones, which says less about Jack's Sasquatch-themed excursions into the realm of whimsy than it does about Slim Jim's online oeuvre. In the Jack's video universe, Sasquatch lives and works among a group of generic 20-somethings. He experiences difficulty moderating his reactions to emotional events, like touchdowns and covert spy missions at the gym, and, as a result, tends to rain mayhem upon everyone in his path. Only through the frequent and remorseless consumption of jerky, the clips seem to suggest, can Sasquatch seize some small shred of humanity. Mickey Rourke, take note.
Slim Jim's videos are more involved than Jack's one-bit-and-out skits (gaa - almost typed "evolved" there instead. Wouldn't my face have been red!!!!!). Over the last few weeks, the brand has trotted out a smattering of "Slim Jim TV" clips: a chronicle of the athletic highs and lows of the "Slim Jim Bro-lympics," a "That's What Slim Jim's For" song parody and a fake infomercial. They appear to have been filmed on somebody's smart phone and boast the comedic daring of a mutual-fund prospectus. It's that bad.
In addition, Slim Jim receives bonus points for debuting the Bro-lympics clip on August 15 - three days after the London Olympics ended, for those counting at home. This leads me to ask: Are we sure these clips are officially authorized? I'd hate to think there's a rogue Slim Jim marketing operative out there sullying the brand's good, salty name. Wow.
To conclude, this ranks among the saddest columns I've ever written. Any pretense I had to a man-of-reason self-image has been shot to hell now that I've found myself in the marketing crosshairs of Jack's Links and Slim Jim. I guess I'm a snack-meat kind of guy after all.