Jewish World Review Oct. 25, 2001 / 8 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Ad memories -- A GAGGLE of American scientists, led by Professor Elizabeth Loftus at the University of Washington in Seattle, claim that advertising can make people remember things that never happened.

According to the Guardian, "Adults shown a mock advert in which Disney World visitors shake hands with a Bugs Bunny character became convinced they had done the same as a child." The results of the study, unveiled in early September at Glasgow University "could be hugely significant for the advertising industry."

Well, certainly, that's true. That you can convince some poor grownup that he got up close and personal with Bugs Bunny at Disney World is highly significant. It proves that for all its relentless self-promotion over the years, Disney has not done its job.

Bugs Bunny is not a Disney character. You'd think after all these years, this would be essential capitalist knowledge, like which decay preventive dentifrice is most effective when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care, what kind of food lies beneath the golden arches, and where you need to shop to find blue light specials.

Bugs at Disney World? I don't think so.

Goofy and the seven dwarves would tear him limb from limb. And maybe that's what happened.

Maybe these poor adults witnessed the dismembering of Bugs at Disney World, and the memory was so shocking they repressed it, or transformed it into something a little more huggable.

That's my theory.

Of course, many of these adults may have never actually attended Disney World, and in fact have been paying attention to nothing but television for the past thirty years, in which case, their memories would naturally be a jumble of Mickey Mouse, and Ren and Stimpy, and Britney Spears, and X Files, and the Superbowl. They might remember hugging Walter Cronkite backstage at the Academy Awards, as Andy Griffith, the Fonz, and Crocodile Dundee applaud warmly.

Perhaps they held hands with Della Street in the audience as Whoopie Goldberg and members of N Synch played Who Wants to be a Millionaire with Donald Trump. Yes, when pop culture jumps into the synapses, anything can happen. Hapless hippies, overhyped hoopsters, telegenic hicks, blowhard hams, wouldbe hipsters, and hippos in tutus coexist quite happily in every American's hippocampus.

To paraphrase Dashiell Hammett, "It's all as real as a dime."

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


10/17/01: Pathetic me
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10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales