Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Popular Culture Down the Memory Hole

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.


thefederalist said...

Reminds me of a joke from my childhood: an organization formed to combat cigarette smoking decided to call itself the League to Save Mankind From Tobacco, but had trouble fundraising with the acronym on its letterhead. Those of us over sixty probably get the joke. The rest of you, not so much.

Robert Scherrer said...

I have to admit that I had to Google to get the joke - but then I am a few years short of 60...