This was one of Hallmark’s offerings this year – the “Jolly in the John” snowman, which freaked out vacuumslayer at her in-laws’ home:
What’s next, the “Shit on Santa” toilet liner? About the best that can be said for this is that at least it doesn’t comment on your business. Though it would be a lot funnier if it did. Imagine a talking snowman with a scent detector: “Whoa, buddy, did you make a late-night Taco Bell run?” or “gack…I’m melting, I’m meltinggggg…”
I remember telling my brother, some 10 years ago, about how I had seen stuffed plush Mr. Hanky dolls at some store, and commenting that Christmas had gotten so over-the-top that people could now literally make a buck off a representation of a turd with a Santa hat. The trend continues.
This really isn’t all that bad, but it’s a good segueway into the real horrors:
Here’s another version, by a guy who didn’t forget the words, though we’d all be better off if he had. It’s worth a listen all the way through, but it really starts to rip at about 1:15 in, hitting more highlights at 2:15, 2:30, and 2:55:
And since that video is so dull, while you’re enjoying the audio, enhance your listening pleasure by gazing upon what is one of the tackiest, worst things I’ve ever seen. It offends me on grounds of total tastelessness, and I’m not religious, yet it doesn’t seem to bother some folks who are in the pews every time the doors are open:
Nah. I’m sure he was just trying to make a fast buck. ‘Tis the reason for the season, after all.
Horrors of Hallmark, part 5:
Yes, Virginia, there IS such a thing as Christmas in July.
This weekend, Hallmark rolled out their 2010 Keepsake Ornaments, with much fanfare. What it meant for me was an 8-1/2 hour shift because, as anticipated, the store was mobbed with people who don’t know any better than to spend $15 and up on corporate-branded plastic crap. It wasn’t the crap that got me so much, or even the people who don’t know better than to buy it; it was the 8-1/2 hour shift – not fun for old people, or even those who are no longer young such as yours truly. Fortunately I got off early enough in the day to come home, put my feet up on the couch, and watch them swell.
As for the crap, well, it is what it is. Just more stuff for people to spend money on, and as noted, most of it a merchandising tie-in to some other company’s trademarks. There are some that you’d expect: Rudolph, Polar Express, etc. But then there are the Disney ornaments, Barbie ornaments, Star Wars ornaments – you name it, and if Hallmark can turn a buck on it, they’ll make it into an ornament. But just to give you an idea as to the insanity of those who “collect” these things: our store did about $10,000 in business in these by the time I left yesterday. At an average of $15 a pop, that’s over 650 of them that went out the door in 10 hours, most of them reserved or pre-paid by people who had submitted “wish lists” weeks earlier. I won’t go so far as to say all collectors are insane but…I really can’t see the point in collecting plastic marketing tools that don’t DO anything other than hang on a tree.
All that having been said, there were some lighter moments to the day, beginning when someone broke one of the Star Trek ornaments and we brought it up to the front. Since it was a “magic” ornament that played music when you pressed the button, I spent the rest of the day pressing the button…over, and over, and over again. The ornament depicted the famous Star Trek “Kirk and Spock Fight” theme:
Which of course reminded me of this scene from The Cable Guy:
I and one of the other girls working kept doing the Jim Carrey sing-along with the tune. Horribly annoying, I’m sure, but then again, so is working an 8-1/2 hour shift waiting on people who don’t know better than to spend hundreds of dollars on corporate marketing crap.
The other thing that really got me was that I kept hearing this banjo music wafting up from the ornament display. Finally I asked someone, “WTF, did Hallmark make a Deliverance Keepsake Ornament? Why didn’t they do one with Ned Beatty squealing like a pig?” Turns out it was all much more upbeat than that; the banjo music went along with the “Jingle Jamboree” ornament, which you can hear here.
I really should lighten up on some of this stuff; I mean, even I’m tempted by the things that push my buttons. I’m a sucker for anything Suess – right now the calendar hanging on the wall behind my computer shows an illustration from If I Ran the Circus. I also have a weakness for anything related to Where the Wild Things Are, which made this ornament somewhat hard to resist:
But resist it I did, even though with my discount I could have picked it up for quite a bit less than the retail price people were paying for the much-less-cool ornaments that were flying off the shelves.
What would be the point, after all, in buying an ornament when you never bother putting up a tree?
I will say this for our little Christmas in July hoedown: at least they didn’t make us listen to Christmas music. THAT would have been a deal-breaker.
Horrors of Hallmark, part 4:
Most of the stuff at the Hallmark falls under the heading of tacky or trite – it’s stuff I wouldn’t want in my own home but it’s not downright creepy. But in an attempt to offer something for everyone, Hallmark also carries the Willow Tree figurines, described thusly on their website: “The original inspiration for Willow Tree still holds true today: Willow Tree is an intimate, personal line of figurative sculptures representing qualities and sentiments that help us feel close to others, heal wounds, or treasure relationships.”
To truly understand both the humor and the horror implicit in that mission statement, you have to take a gander at the actual thing:
Yes. Nothing says “personal” and “intimate” like facelessness.
They make these things for all occasions. True to form, some are intended to be inflicted upon children, because we all know that kids would prefer a creepy, faceless figurine to something, you know, fun. At the very least, they could make the figurines for kids glow in the dark or something – anything – to wipe out the stench of “grandma/aunt/mom/ dad knows/cares so little about you that she/he thought you’d appreciate this as a gift.” But alas, no such luck for the kids with tasteless relatives. Prediction: kids who receive these things as gifts will grow up to someday shoot up the Post Office where they work, in a final, desperate attempt to stand out from the crowd and claim their individuality. Sadly, even this will not be original.
As bad as all of the above are, it gets worse. Willow Tree also has a line of small “gift boxes” embellished with faceless figures in bas relief. These resemble nothing so much as a body lying in a coffin:
I’ve been pretty harsh about these things, but really, they’re actually quite appropriate for modern times – they’re the gift equivalent of zombies, just another representation of mindless consumerism. As usual, only white people are depicted. I’m beginning to think the old aphorism about “a fool and his money” needs to be updated to “white people and their money are soon parted,” because they’re either the only ones with enough money to piss it away on this type of useless crap or the only ones stupid enough to piss it away in this manner.
Welcome to the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
Horrors of Hallmark, part 3:
The Hallmark is full of little baskets of useless happy-crappy things they call “pocket charms.” A “pocket charm” apparently is for the purpose of throwing into your purse or whatnot where it will never be seen again, because WTF would you do with it even if you found it? I’m pretty good about not showing my true feelings about most of the merchandise in the store, but when it comes to the pocket charms, not so much. I had a customer the other day that was looking at a basket of them by the register – these were made of stamped-metal in the shape of a wing and supposedly represent “angel wings.” Said customer noted that all of the wings were left (that’s something, at least) and we both had a good laugh as I imitated how a one-winged angel would fly…around and around in circles.
If I keep it up, I might manage to get fired from this job, too.
The curious thing about all the various pocket charms in the store is that we always seem to get rid of them, even though we hardly ever sell any of them. Perhaps a better name for them would be “pickpocket charms” or something with a shoplifting-vibe. Actually that would be a fun experiment – make a pocket charm, call it a “klepto angel,” and see how many of them get stolen.
These things I’m sure cost less than a Happy Meal toy to make, and retail for anywhere from $1.99 – $3.99. And yes, some people do occasionally buy them – though it’s even more pitiful that others would be willing to risk arrest to steal them. Imagine the shame of having a shoplifting arrest on your record, because you tried to lift a piece of useless crap that’s worth less than nickel.
Let’s get some perspective, people.
Stealing something like this doesn’t make sense even for a compulsive shoplifter doing it for the thrill of things – because where’s the challenge? Rip off that 5-foot long windchime, motherfucker … then I’ll be impressed.
FYI, “Angel crap” is getting its own tag as a result of this post. Because it’s one of the pillars of Hallmark. Just sitting here thinking about it now, I can think of over a half-dozen examples of “angel crap” in our store alone. Which may finally answer the age-old riddle about how many angels can dance on a pinhead. That would be: none, because otherwise there would be no need for entire stores in cities coast-to-coast burgeoning with this schlock.
First up in angel crap, we have the “Foundations” figurines by Enesco. How do they offend thee? Let us count the ways:
Take a look at that last one. Here’s the “sentiment” the “Sentiment Angel” has written on her dress:
Horrors of Hallmark: Part 1 (in what I fear will be an infinite series)
I work part-time in a Hallmark store to pick up a few dollars while building my business, which hopefully will be a full-time job that pays all the bills by the end of the year. It’s a full-time job now, but the paying the bills part, not so much…pretty common for a business start-up. So I decided it would be a good idea to keep this little part-time job going for several months even after the business got started. It’s not a hard job or one that inspires a deep-seated hostility towards the employer or even the public, since the folks who come in to a Hallmark store kind of pre-select as the sweet and sentimental type. The hours are typical retail so I never have to be there before 9 am and I’m always home before 9 pm. The people I work with are nice, the manager is nice… there’s really not much to complain about. What’s a malcontent to do?
Focus on the merchandise, of course.
I spend hours every week in this place – a place where aesthetics are shamelessly and publically violated and slaughtered on every shelf, a place where emotions transcending words are transformed into trite dross. On a psychic level, it’s very damaging. I can feel the scars knitting into keloid masses in my psyche every time my eye alights on some new and egregious offense to taste, reason, and decency.
Ok, not really.
But it does provide endless amusement and helps the time go by, just to ponder what it suggests about the people who buy the stuff, the people who think up and make the stuff, and the fact that we live in a society where entire business empires and fortunes are built on the stuff. So I’m going to do a public service here and scar your psyches for you, since most of you probably don’t have the time to invest in scarring them yourselves by working in a Hallmark store.
Our first subject:
There’s a very creepy Stepford vibe here – if not for the bare arms and semi-feminine lines of the gowns these girls could be the perfect little Pentecostals.
That’s when it hit me – these are Peniskeeper dolls!
Let me digress – “Peniskeeper” is a sarcastic twist on “Promise Keeper.” You may recall this fundamentalist Christian men’s movement that started in the early 90’s and featured participants making public pledges to remain faithful to their spouses and devoted to their families at pointless rallies, including a large one in Washington, D.C.
Like, whatever, dudes.
I mean, it’s nice and all that you want to be good to your wives by not screwing around on them and be decent dads for your kids, but there’s no need to be such drama queens about it. Just keep it in your pants and don’t hit or constantly berate the children. I don’t know why you think I need to know about your noble aspirations for your personal lives, because you don’t get a gold star for doing those things; those are the minimum acceptable, and I’m not the one handing out the gold stars anyway. Sorry you wasted the time driving to D.C.
Anyway, in the fullness of time, there were some rather…disturbing outgrowths of the whole Peniskeeper movement, none of them creepier than “purity balls.”
On this occasion, I’m linking the site where I found the video as well, because the comments there – pure comedy gold!
Again, this whole thing of encouraging young girls not to become sexually active isn’t in and of itself a bad thing…but there’s something here that’s just ick. Maybe it’s the concept that the vajayjay belongs to good ol’ dad, until there is a suitable candidate to whom he can entrust its future care. Or maybe it’s just the whole idea of these men putting so much focus on the condition of their daughters’ ladybits. All I know is, my dad (and mom) were able to get pretty much the same message across to me – “don’t be a ho” – as these men are expending such effort to get across to their daughters, with the added bonus that they never grossed me out while doing it.
Anyway, you watch the video and see if it doesn’t look just like a roomful of these dolls, swaying around a dance floor while being groped by middle-aged men.
Ergo, Peniskeeper dolls.