Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Stop the presses!

I'm willing to bet all of you know Mikey, of "Give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything" fame. That Life cereal commercial is one of the most famous cultural memes around. I myself have been called Mikey -- the pseudonym for a "human garbage disposal" -- more times than I can recall.

But what I bet almost none of you realizes is this: the Mikey meme is totally fallacious. A memes go, the Mikey meme is a grotesque mutation of the original ad[1]. If you'll watch the ad, you realize Mikey is exactly the opposite of what we've construed him to be. Far from being a human food Dispose-All, little Mikey is a totally picky eater. This is, in fact, the only scenario that makes sense. It would hardly be a credit to Life cereal if a wildly indiscriminate eater enjoyed their cereal. No, the appeal of the cereal must come from the fact (or appearance of fact) that it's so good even contrarian Mikey will eat it.

This rather elementary observation was made by none other than my coworker buddy, Brett, a few weeks ago during our lunch break. As he traced the logic back, and then as I found the ad online for the rest of us to watch, the truth filled our office like warm, numinous light. Brett was stunned, not only because such a plain ad had been so bizarrely warped, but also because, to use his own words, "I never catch that culture s--t." Well, Brett, good catch this time.

Knowing the truth about Mikey is good, but it presents a lot of unsettled (and unsettling) questions. Namely, how in the world did the Mikey meme get so profoundly and broadly twisted? Also, why haven't we heard of any legal cases by the Mikey actor suing for damages and libel? And, worst of all, what nickname will I now get as an eating cretin?

[1] I point you to the source of this ad, a digital cornucopia of Classic Commericals (http://www.bubblegoose.com/ClassicCommercials/

No comments: