Media X: Holiday Jeer

The week of Thanksgiving, which more or less formally starts the holiday season, always sucks. But now that we live in post-intelligent America, it sucks particularly hard.

This week launches the traditional holiday onslaught of those non-story stories. Who could resist the "I'm trying to get home to my toothless relatives in West Virginia, but I had to sleep in the airport in Burbank because all the flights were canceled" piece on The Today Show? Or Katie Couric's take on the "Bush pardoned the turkey" tale (the bird, not that dwarf who outed Valerie Plame)?

How can you stay dry-eyed seeing all those "soldiers in Iraq wishing their families a happy holiday" videos on your local news? And then, of course, there's the endearing perennial, "the terrorism threat level has been elevated to Kiss-Your-Ass-Goodbye" piece, airing every 90 seconds from now until Election Day 2008 on Fox News.

I don't know what the Web is doing this week, since I try to stay away from the Internet during the holidays. But I'm sure it's serious and important journalism.



Well, that's not entirely true. Yesterday on AOL, I read with relish about the church pastor in Georgia who discovered that his uncle was really his father. Yeah, I know, sex scandals among the faithful are ubiquitous, but I find them particularly festive this time of year.

But I meander.

In the agency business, big media reviews inevitably suck. But now that we live in unbundled America, there's always one charmer that puts its account into play around the holidays, and that sucks particularly rough.

This week, the season will be ruined for hundreds of staffers who were planning to get sloshed and watch football in front of the plasma TV. Now, they have to spend the entire holidays learning about Bank of America's point of view on viral marketing.

Trust me; the winner in this pitch is going to wish it lost. I know BofA. BofA is why I do my checking at Wells Fargo.

But I deviate.

When an icon passes away during the holiday season, that really sucks. But now that we live in an American marketplace digitally decimated into 303,413,052 million selfish and shallow audiences (as of 10:35 p.m. ET yesterday), the death of a beloved spokesman from a simpler, more connected time sucks particularly bad.

This week, my season was ruined by the death of Mr. Whipple, who in what we would now call the meat world was an actor named Dick Wilson. I know you kids probably don't know who he was and could care less (see 303 million etc. above), but I loved that dude.

His pitch was as soft as his Charmin. His character was kind, not condescending. His manner was soothing, not sneering. His squeeze obsession was eccentric, not sociopathic. Mr. Whipple was everything our devolving nation is not anymore, nor probably ever will be again. And that just sucks.

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