July 12, 2004

A Lileks Lapse

James Lileks is a professional wordsmith, and when he applies his skill to expressing the mainstream Jacksonian conservatism of flyover country, it generates lots of linkage. Many of us read him every day, because his craftsmanship is every bit as admirable when he applies it to the bittersweet joys of having a home, a family and a pet.

Today, however, at the very end of his Bleat, there was a non-trivial error in the realm of Sociology of Popular Culture 101. After showing us the wrapper from a bar of hotel soap from WWII, he suggests that Irish Spring brought about a major change in soap preferences. He states that after viewing the original ad for this new soap, "[e]very guy wanted to buy a bar, get out his knife and carve off a hunk." Wrong. What the fine fellow me laddie in the ad did was shave off a nicely curled chip. Anyone who ever practiced the ancient art of soap carving knows that either that knive was either seriously sharp or the bar of soap had been prepped for the ad.

For myself, as someone who hasn't been without a carry knive in decades, except when in courtrooms or airplanes, coming out with a knife for an exploratory cut was perfectly natural. I have to wonder how many people were disconcerted by that blade, and how many who now carry a knive were influenced, at least in part, by that ad. I also wonder, in the same line of thought, how much of the blame for current habits of improper speech should like be assigned to the copywriters who, like, created that slogan for Winston cigarettes.

Posted by triticale at July 12, 2004 06:47 PM
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