Popular culture is by its very nature ephemeral. Today's famous actor or musical hit is tomorrow's trivia question. But some types of pop culture are more ephemeral than others, and there's one area that's vanished so thoroughly that it's left almost no trace at all.
See if you can fill in the blanks:
I'd rather fight than _____
I'd walk a mile for a _____
A silly millimeter _____
You've come a long way, _____
My guess is that everyone over the age of 50 will recognize the answers instantly, and nobody under the age of 40 will have the slightest clue what I'm talking about. So what are the answers?
I'd rather fight than switch.
I'd walk a mile for a Camel.
A silly millimeter longer.
You've come a long way, baby.
These are all slogans from cigarette ads on television. They seemed to play every 5 seconds when I was watching TV in the 1960s -- until they were abruptly banned at the beginning of 1971. So if you're my age, these slogans are irrevocably burned into your brain, but they were excised so completely that anyone younger has never heard of them.
I'm not, by the way, arguing that it was wrong to ban these ads -- just marveling at the suddenness with which this aspect of our culture vanished so completely. Not smoking is the single second-best thing you can do for your health -- almost everything else pales in comparison. And the best thing? Choose the right DNA.