Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Stop the Vote

A local department store recently launched an ingenious advertising gimmick - "Bring in your 'I have voted, have you?' stub for select discounts" - that has me all atwitter. And not because I love a bargain, which, of course, I do; heck, who doesn't? Not liking a bargain is like not liking your current governor but stumping for him anyway; wait, let me start over. Not liking a bargain is like not liking something you haven't even tried; oh, forget it.

What I'm trying to say is, it isn't my self-seeking, consumptive nature that has me all atwitter about this particular marketing strategy, but said strategy's implications on society as a whole. I mean, think of the possibilities! Imagine how much unpleasantness could be avoided if we were to apply, no, make that ENFORCE, a "produce the stub, please" policy to, well, just about everything!

Take actors. What if we made them produce some sort of stub qualifying them for the political arena before we gave them backstage, and all too often frontstage, passes to such arenas? (This being a democratic society, I won't suggest that we make everyone - butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, even actors - produce some sort of stub certifying an IQ over 85 before going to the polls. But don't think I wouldn't like to. Suggest such a thing, that is.)

My toes verily curl imagining a society where the cuddly Lous, a.k.a., Ed Asners, not to mention Meatheads, a.k.a., Rob Reiners, of the world are made to furnish more than their SAG cards before they get to play statesmen, advising the minions on "a woman's right to choose." A culture where an Academy Award-winning portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean doesn't automatically confer grandstanding rights on capital punishment.

And don't get me started on the Ben Afflecks of the world, eye candy so sweet it hardly matters whether they're able to walk and talk at the same time. What does matter is that these people are paid to look good, not hold court on subjects they can barely pronounce. In a "produce the stub" culture, people like the eminently photogenic Ben, who, like Rob Lowe before him, would have to know more than where the best post-convention wingdings are before being allowed to "counsel" us less-attractive schlubs. People like the eminently photogenic Ben, who hasn't even bothered to vote (see: County Clerk-Recorder Registrar records for Los Angeles; New York; and Cambridge, the three cities Mr. Affleck claims residency in) since 1992, wouldn't have a soapbox to stand on.

I dare say this could be a utopian society if everyone adopted a "produce the stub" mentality.

Staging a "No War for Oil" protest? Splendid. Just be sure to weed out any marchers who didn't arrive by electric car, bike or foot, or who didn't support drilling in the Arctic Circle, and you can all but guarantee that the right people will sit up and take notice.

Headed out to your local Planned Parenthood? No problem. Just don't forget to bring the stub verifying that you're either (a) pregnant or (b) an adoption services worker.

The possibilities, as you can see, are endless.

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