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Urge To Kill Rising: An Introduction

June 1, 2009

It’s a well-known truism that the best state of mind for writing is either last-minute panic or absolute, apoplectic rage.  And we’re all out of last-minute panic. With that in mind, I thought I’d give our writers an opportunity to angry up the blood and the prose with a series entitled Urge To Kill Rising, a recurring forum in which to rail against anything and everything that brings out their inner homicidal maniac.  My friends, let us get mad and get even.

I’ll begin the catharsis parade with an example of a phenomenon that people who know me are tired of hearing me complain about: advertising.  There’s just something about blatant emotional manipulation and sophisticated psychological gamesmanship in the service of compelling people to buy a slightly different variety of snack cracker that seems to me to have the faintest whiff of lowest-dregs-of-human-interaction to it.  I suspect that there are few people in this world genuinely interested in saving you money or improving your life, and the ones that are generally aren’t going to charge you money for doing it.  Possibly the worst of this breed is the sort of ad that tries to convince the world that a given company is composed of decent human beings.  When you’ve reached that stage, such a commercial smacks either of desperation or sheer balls-out shamelessness.

Take this here ad from State Farm Insurance (one of the great non sequitir company names), which has been running pretty often lately.

So, if I’m reading this right, insurance is approximately equal to:
•    Helping old people cross the street
•    Welcoming soldiers home from Iraq
•    Playing with children
•    Habitat For Humanity
•    Hockey (?)
•    Curing cancer
•    Candlelight vigils

Well, sure, why not?  Whenever I hear “don’t ever get hit by a drunk driver because your insurance premium will go up by about a thousand percent” I think, wow, this is just like hugging my grandma as she recovers from her two-year tour of duty in the war against breast cancer.  I’m so glad that this particular insurance company, like all the selfless people depicted in this ad, can be counted on to fulfill the terms of its legally binding contract.  It just makes me feel warm and loved inside.

But perhaps the part that really screams “classy” is the shot of the elderly couple standing outside their ruined home, as a State Farm employee kneels kindly to tell them that, no doubt, the company will build them a new house, buy them a puppy, and convince their children to visit more.  Because if there’s one thing a disaster victim can count on, it’s swift and generous payment of their insurance settlement.

So kudos, State Farm. This not-at-all disingenuous, I might even go so far as to say ingenuous, ad has leveraged the hell out of my target demographic.  I now know that, like a good neighbor, State Farm will say just about anything to get my money with no hope of ever recovering it.  Thanks, guys!

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