Friday, August 04, 2006

I Hate Those Kids

Hey, I found an early Trix commercial from 1964. This is from before they added all the other flavors to the mix; back then it was just "raspberry red, lemony yellow, orange orange!" (Orange orange?) But one thing never changes: those damn kids delight in tormenting the poor hungry rabbit and denying him that which he most desires:

I've always found it amusing that even though the commercials are clearly set up with the expectation that we'll identify with the kids -- they are, after all, the same age as the target audience, and the rabbit is their antagonist -- the one constant of audience reaction to those commercials is that audiences hate those kids. I mean, really hate those kids. They are cruel little monsters and greedy pigs, and real kids always identify with the rabbit instead.

It's not surprising, either: as children, we identify more with characters who can't get what they want. The kids in those commercials are actually more like parents, denying us what we most desire on the basis of arbitrary rules. So "Trix Are For Kids," which was supposed to be a slogan signifying that this cereal was a special treat for children that grown-ups couldn't share, instead comes off sounding more like the sort of incomprehensible rules that adults use to deny treats to children. It's an ad campaign that works, but for exactly the wrong reasons.

Or as Carlton said on an episode of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air": "For a long time it gave me nightmares, it shows that the world can sometimes be cruel. I can still hear them taunting him. 'Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids.' Why couldn't they just give him some cereal?"

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