Every day I have a strange compulsion to check out a disgusting website.
Well, it’s not really so strange, and it’s not really a compulsion either. I go to weather.com because I want to know what the weather is going to be like today.
Weather.com probably has a new advertising manager now who really has a knack for what works best in advertising. Of course, the best thing to advertise just about anything is sex. Or at least it used to be, for a long time.
Use a suggestive picture of some naked or semi-naked really pretty (or really ugly, makes no difference) female, or even male as long as it is a celebrity engaged in something that looks like an adulterous act, (true or false, makes no difference), and people will definitely want to see it. A whole industry has been selling millions of copies of glossy magazines for decades now based on this simple principle.
I don’t really have a problem with that and when I stand in the checkout line at the supermarket, I sometime pick up a copy of one of these magazines and look for a few seconds at the pictures and scan the articles. After all, I am no celebrity, and nobody would want to see me naked, so I am pretty safe in that respect.
Weather.com does not use pictures of naked celebrities to get people to click on them, perhaps because so many other websites and publications do that too and they want to distinguish themselves from the rest of the eyeball-hungry crowd. My theory is that a new advertising director, who must have put in place a new, more effective and more family-friendly advertising policy recently at weather.com, discovered that dead children work almost as well as sex when it comes to the number of mouse clicks and that millions of eyeballs of consumers of products and services will be glued to a picture of a child who died, preferably a gruesome death.
The more gruesome the death of the child, the better for the number of clicks. Last week they used a picture of a pretty blue-eyed, blond girl, very young, maybe 7 years old. I did not click on it because I did not want to know how she died, but the text under the picture said that she died while on vacation in a summer camp.
This week they have on the site a picture of a cute blue-eyed boy, about 3 years old, who died of heat exhaustion because his father left him locked up in a car on a hot day. Again, I don’t know the details of the story because I did not really want to know them. I think that the story was also in my newspaper and probably also on TV, but I am not sure because I try not to read or watch things like that.
I try to look for real news when I drink my first cup of coffee in the morning before I start working, but something like that is getting harder and harder to find these days in my newspaper. There must be something wrong with me if knowing exactly how horrible the death of a little child was is not something that I want to know, while most people do want to know every little detail of the story.
But I did click on the picture of this blond boy who is dead now, although he is obviously very much alive in that picture, because I was wondering what product or service did weather.com make the dead child sell. Nowadays when we click on a picture introducing another scandalous story about a naked or at least a semi-naked celebrity, or better yet a dead child, we don’t get the story right away, of course. First we have to watch for anywhere between 5 to 20 seconds an advertising clip. The picture is just the bait, the real product is the advertisement.
So I found out that the dead boy was used by weather.com to advertise a mop. Well, I suppose you could say that in this way his death, gruesome as it was, was at least good for something. The boy must have sold a lot of mops after he died, which probably helps the economy. Or at least it makes money for people who own a lot of mop shares.
Because the premature death of a young, beautiful person evokes in us such powerful emotions, it was often used as a theme by a talented artist to create something beautiful.
Taj Mahal, perhaps the most stunningly beautiful palace on this planet, was built three and half centuries ago as an expression of love of an Indian emperor for his wife who died much too soon. Edgar Allan Poe wrote his poem “The Raven” as an expression of the incredible sadness that the premature death of a beautiful young woman evokes in most human beings. Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante défunte” was inspired by a similar theme.
In our enlightened age, we are more practical than lyrical. We simply use dead children to sell services and goods, like for instance mops.