Chester Cheetah vs. Joe Camel ~ Random Waves of Insight
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chester Cheetah vs. Joe Camel

Hey kids, addiction is cool!

I've only just realized that's the message that has been put out there for years by ad executives, and not just the ones advertising cigarettes. A lot of product mascots, it would seem, have severe problems in their lives, in that they are addicted to one thing or another. And their conditions are glorified. Even Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is an addict, frequently going "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs." But there are two that stand out for me, even more so than poor Sunny, because these guys are especially cool: Chester Cheetah and Joe Camel.

Both have similarly-shaped heads. Both wear dark sunglasses. And both have that certain something that makes people like them.

In "Family Guy," Chester Cheetah was depicted as snorting a line of ground-up Cheetos. Joe Camel smoked cigarettes. Who's worse?

Now that Joe's dead of cancer, he doesn't seem so cool. But a few years ago, he was everywhere. I like Chester, and am glad he survived. I can look past his addiction because I myself am not *munch* *munch* addicted *munch* *munch* to cheesy snacks -- oh CRAP! Well forget that.

What's so bad about these guys?

First off, the worst thing is the insidious nature behind them. Their mystery emphasizes their evil, because the fact that you have to take a moment to think before you understand the true nature of CC and JC proves that they're supremely talented at living a caustic lie. The lie is they're cool, and they should be looked up to and emulated. The truth is they are pawns, addicts, and out of control in every way.

Cheetos pays Chester to make public appearances, but because he's addicted to their cheesy product, they probably pay him in snack bags. Joe was addicted to cigarettes, and though he tried many times to quit, the company wouldn't let him. They had invested too much money in him as a representative, and forced him to make appearance after appearance, all the while smoking it up. In the end, it killed him, but not before convincing children that smoking was something you did to be cool.

What did Chester teach? That it's perfectly ok, even admirable, to be a slave to some product, to have it own you and not the other way around. "I have to get this, I have to buy it and eat it, because, I just have to!" Chester taught us not to use our minds, not to make decisions, but rather to emulate the habits of a role model who is cool enough, even when those habits are destructive. So we buy cheetos because the cool cat does. Then one day we meet Stan the drug dealer, and he seems extra cool. He recommends buying his full supply so that we can “toughen up” with a raging binge, and before we know it, we've OD'd, all because the cool guy said to.

Who's worse, Chester Cheetah or Joe Camel? Well, despite the fact that JC has the same initials as Jesus, and he was used to market death sticks to children, I'm gonna have to go and say Chester Cheetah is the worst. All Joe Camel did was look cool, act cool, and nonchalantly smoke cigarettes while being cool. He never screamed a slogan like, “If I don’t have my Pops, I’m gonna pop someone...” or “I’d kill for a Klondike!” His addiction was a subtle part of his image, an image that was then shown in conjunction with cigarettes. No more, no less. But Chester… He preaches that slavery to junk food is a good thing. Essentially, he does with Cheetos exactly what Joe did with cigarettes, but takes things to a whole new level. He goes nuts, gets into crazy dangerous situations, and then verbally excuses himself with, “It’s not easy being cheesy.” Meaning, “Hey kids, it’s ok to risk your life for something, as long as you’re addicted, and as long as the cool people like it too.” Pure Evil.

But if you can look past all that, he does seem pretty cool…

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