Last week I analyzed the solipsistic qualities of a billboard ad for eating peanuts by the National Peanut Board in which the protagonist (main character in a fiction) prefers speaking to his dog. As usual, when a company creates a character through an offbeat or weird trait, it is talking to a large, if sometimes previously unexplored target market.
In this case, the target market comprises those lonely millions whose best or only friend and closest confidant is a pet—that is, a subservient living thing habiting under its rule.
Yesterday, the Associated Press announced the results a recent poll it conducted in conjunction with Petside.com that reveals that one third of all pet-owning married women believe that pets are better listeners than their husbands.
Funny that the Peanut Board used a man in the marketing campaign, whereas the survey showed that a mere 18% of all married men with pets prefer to talk to the animal than their better halves.
Don’t these people realize that their little pooches, kitties, tweety-birds and turtles may not understand anything they are saying, or only understand the emotional component as it relates to food, shelter and avoiding corporal punishment?
Interesting to note, while Sue Manning, writer of the AP story, sprinkles it with case histories of these misogynists and man-haters, the one photo that appears on the website version of the story is an obese North Carolina woman with her big dog. AP, like most news media, is making visual concessions to the rapidly growing number of rapidly growing Americans.
The more interesting discussion, I think, is why Associated Press participated in conducting this poll, which does nothing more than to titillate the gossip genes of those whose community extends primarily into online, broadcast and print media.
But think of this: Once completed and analyzed, the story is obviously newsworthy because the media dedicates a large amount of space to trivial pop psychology stories. This one has the added blandishment of a kind of genial “man bites dog” undertone. In other words, instead of covering more breaking news or providing more accurate and in-depth coverage to key issues such as health care, immigration and financial reform, the AP has created its own bon-bon of pop triviality that it can offer to a factoid hungry readership.