Sunday, June 27, 2010

Paperless World? Over Kleenex's® Empty Carton Carcass!

Hey, you know that single ancient washcloth you use as a bathroom hand towel? Remember when it got super soiled from drying your just-washed hands on it over and over? And then your dog started chewing on it, but you didn't have a spare, so you just hung it right back up? And then your washing machine went on the fritz so you couldn't wash it? You know, the one that's still hanging in your bathroom right now, looking like a thrice-used square of toilet paper? Man, that is such a drag!

But finally, someone understands! The brilliant heads over at Kleenex® came out with a disposable hand towel for just this sort of situation (see the TV spot below). Yep, while the SunChips® folks were unveiling their new 100% compostable chip bag (and an altogether smarter marketing campaign), the geniuses over at Kleenex® basically said, "Screw that! We'll just throw some money at one of those environmental cause thingies!" This is indeed the same company that brought us many wonderful paper products, but I draw the disposability line at tissues (which we need; handkerchiefs are only cute in Victorian romances). Too bad they didn't opt to introduce this product on Earth Day. Because nothing says conservation like big-ass paper towels for your overmoist hands.

But setting aside the fact that these things are wasteful as shit (no pun intended), what exactly is supposed to be so horrible about cloth towels, anyway? I honestly never thought about this prior to viewing this ad, but hell, I love towels! They're soft, they're fluffy, they come in colors! Why would I want to eliminate such a comforting bathroom item in exchange for yet another thing that dispenses from a carton? This whole idea is extra scary because I feel like Kleenex® might be developing a paper bath towel as I type this. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in one of their staff meetings... "Hey, Johnson, if we play our cards right, we might be able to do away with terry cloth entirely! NO MORE FUCKING TERRY CLOTH!" 

And that commercial! What a blatant insult to any consumer of average intelligence. For the love of Sterling Cooper, are there really any families who wait that long until switching out their hand towels? And what is coming out of these people's faucet? Swamp water?

But let's never mind the lazy ad campaign for a second. Never mind the needless waste and the arguably unattractive appearance of the towels themselves. Let's focus instead on the sheer idiocy of this product. Because in the grand scheme of bathroom experiences, the last thing I want to try to replicate in my home is the rest stop on Route 59. Up next: wall-mounted soap dispensers!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Is Huddy Do It

This post contains spoilers about the Season 6 finale of House, but it was three weeks ago, so you're probably OK.

Watching Drs. House and Cuddy kiss—for real—was damn satisfying on the season finale of House a few weeks ago. So satisfying, in fact, that it instantly got me asking, first, “What’s wrong with this picture?” and second, “How jaded am I that I would question a lovely scene like this?” Not to mention the way it was perfectly emblematic of the ideal romantic partnership—both parties sacrificed, gave, and took equally during those few minutes. That it also happened to bring to fruition a six-year-long foreplay session was just icing on the cake.

But then I figured it out: what that moment triggered within me was the recognition that a kiss like that had somehow become a completely foreign concept on television. That elusive je ne sais quoi I was struggling to put my finger on was the presence of romance. Pardon the cliché, but it has to be said: TV romance is (nearly) dead. Sure, we still have the cutesy hookups of new and old sitcoms like Cougar Town and How I Met Your Mother to fall back on, as well as the always interchangeable, always manipulated screw-lationships of Grey’s Anatomy, but as far as serious, mature programming goes, the romance dial is essentially stuck on one position: the sweaty, carnal, envelope-pushing, checking-behind-you-for-grandmother’s-whereabouts fuck fests of the wonder that is cable television. (The backyard scene on United States of Tara from the beginning of this season comes to mind.)

What happened to buying a gal dinner first? What happened to affection? Emotional intimacy, anyone? Nothing tugs at the heartstrings anymore. Call me crazy, but I don’t think it makes me too much of a girl to demand some occasional wooing in my nightly viewing. I mean, enough with these borderline rape-y, bend-her-over-a-table-while-heaving-threats “love” scenes—yes, Weeds, I’m talking to you. I love cable programming as much as the next person, but sometimes I really wonder if a misogynist writer didn’t sneak his way onto the Showtime team. It’s like, we get it: it’s all just biology and there’s nothing really sacred about two people coming together physically. Except… it’s not, and there is.

These shows, while well-crafted and cleverly penned, appear to lack a basic belief in love. If love is the higher power, they are the atheists of TV programming, endlessly attempting to convince their audience of the idiocy of romance by depicting increasingly depraved sex scenes more reminiscent of animalistic mating rituals than expressions of human desire. While many such scenes can be funny/charming/real/necessary in context, they nearly always point back to that ol’ bodily function—no, not shitting—sex (although they sure make it hard to distinguish between the importance of the two). I have no beef with sex, but I’m sick of seeing it get reduced to nothing more than an urge. Yes, lust is a real and beautiful thing, but these shows will have you believe that it is sex that bestows significance on love, instead of the other way around. No offense to atheists, but I’ll stick with my silly magic.

So when House and Cuddy, two of the most complex and grownup characters currently on TV, finally got around to being on the same page for the first time in six years, I repeat, I was satisfied. Even better, I was touched. I was touched by their words to each other, the way she helped him up off the floor (symbolism alert!), their barely-there kiss, all the way to the final shot of their tightly, desperately joined hands. (I mean, seriously, who holds hands while making out anymore? I literally had to fan myself.) There was nothing tantalizing or titillating about their coming together, yet it was the sexiest thing I’d seen all year—perhaps longer—on the small screen. And I didn’t need visual proof to know that, in the House universe, those two totally got their freak on after the screen went black.

And so I urge you, television gods—as an non-sentimental, even cynical woman who does not get weepy at weddings and often rolls her eyes at proposal stories, I urge you—do not let on-screen romance die. As much as it shocks me to say this, less D.H. Lawrence and more Jane Austen, please. Look, I too dig a raunchy scene now and again; I just wish you realized that doing the nasty doesn’t always have to be so, well, nasty.