Chris Miksanek: Big Mother is watching you; who are you watching?
Chris Miksanek

2006 Chris Miksanek




This is one of my favorite ones..

It was published in the February 23, 2007 St. Paul Pioneer Press.


Chris Miksanek: Big Mother is watching you; who are you watching?




Big Mother is watching you; who are you watching?

Buoyed by November's elections, liberal majorities across Minnesota began acting on their so-called kinder and gentler mandate. Olmsted County became the latest to prohibit smoking in the workplace, and a statewide ban is on the agenda. But it isn't just secondhand smoke that's in Big Mother's crosshairs. Trans fats' days are numbered along with, some say, flavor in general.

While a healthier society is a noble goal, trying to legislate one into existence is anything but.

Besides the obvious consequences of deploying enforcement and prosecution resources away from more weighty tasks, citizens are reduced to either "sneaks" or "snitches," depending on their proclivities or hypersensitivities. Consider that in France, along with their smoking ban, more than 175,000 agents (presumably volunteers, brown shirts optional) are charged with its enforcement. This is not only a poor use of resources, but patently ineffective.

There is a better way.

For generations, animated pitchmen have been used to convince us to consume many of the very products we're now trying to break from. Why not bring these icons out of retirement for a series of public service announcements in which they renounce their former selves and recant their endorsements? Basically, they could talk us out of what they've talked us into.

For example, in their tobacco lawsuits, attorneys general have cited Joe Camel's influence on children. If, in fact, he can influence behavior, then the animated image of him, ravaged by his product haggard and dragging an oxygen tank behind him pleading, "I used to think smoking was cool until my tracheotomy that's a big word, kids, that means I have to drink McFlurries through a tube in my stomach," would do more to reduce smoking than would any law.

Other animated product pitchmen could be commissioned to make similar allocutions.

A gaunt Mr. Salty, sans the signature salt grains that once peppered his costume, for hypertension awareness: "Since becoming a member of the Zipper Club, I went from Mr. Salty to Mr. Sveltey. Cut the sodium. Celery rocks!"

Spuds MacKenzie, for moderation: "Chicks don't dig dogs with cirrhosis of the liver. They dig poets and artists. Think, don't drink!"

A 300-pound Toucan Sam for healthier eating: "Say no to sugar and yes to bran before you become an endangered species like me."

After they get our diets straightened out, they can help bring awareness to social inadequacies. For instance, the Trix Rabbit can remind boomers that "if anyone tells you you're too old for anything, do what I did: Call the EEOC!"

Chris Miksanek of Rochester doesn't need his House representative, Andy Welti, to tell him not to litter glass ketchup bottles; Woodsy Owl told him that when he was 6 years old.

All material presented here is Copyright 2007 Chris Miksanek
Last updated: February 23, 2007