As If Your Life (Savers) Depended On It
by Mad Dog
become a democratic medium. It used to be we watched, we munched, we
flipped the channels, we fell asleep. Now we’re a part of it.
The good thing about living in a democracy is we can
make our voices heard. The problem is getting anyone to pay attention.
Take President Bush, for example. He thinks listening to protesters is
like “[deciding] policy based upon a focus group.” Of course it was
during his election that votes were so highly thought of in Florida they
were tossed out. So it’s nice to know that there are still people who
are not only genuinely interested in what we think and making sure our
votes count, but who actively solicit them. So what if they’re TV
program creators and candy companies?
Television has become a democratic
medium. It used to be we watched, we munched, we flipped the channels,
we fell asleep. Now we’re a part of it. We called in and helped decide
who should stay in a house while Big Brother—I mean, we—played
Peeping Tom 24 hours a day. Then we let our fingers do the voting and
selected an American Idol. Not only did 15 million people cast ballots
for the finalists, 286,000 of them shelled out their hard earned bucks
to buy the winner’s single during its first week of release, proving
that mailing fundraising letters, speaking while people pretend to enjoy
lame chicken dinners, and promising to toss lucrative government
contracts at them are very passé ways to get people to fork over money.
The producers of American
Candidate expect 10,000 people to sign up to run for President,
which will be 12 more than the Democrats will have.
now we can have twice the fun by voting two times in one week. We can
call in and try to get our least favorite washed-up celebrity thrown out
of the Australian rain forest on I’m a Celebrity—Get Me Out of
Here!, even though it’s tempting to change our vote so they’ll
stay and hopefully wind up as Purina Croc Chow. A couple of days later
we can watch Married By America and play matchmaker for five
people who are desperate for a spouse, desperate for publicity and,
well, just plain desperate. Best of all, we can do it without having to
register to vote. Or even be a citizen for that matter. This is
especially good since a new reality TV show, American Candidate,
is in the works, and it would suck to not have your vote count just
because you’re a 16-year-old illegal alien who recently got out of
prison on a felony charge.
is scheduled to hit the airwaves in January and you too can apply for
the position of Commander in Chief. The first step to fame, fortune, and
a license to bully the world will be to sign up at the program’s
website. Get your finger off the mouse, you won’t be able to do this
until May. The producers expect 10,000 people to sign up to run, which
will be 12 more than the Democrats will have at that point. A
“blue-ribbon leadership panel”—think people who have won 4-H
cattle contests—will use a Magic 8 Ball, tarot cards, and a two-headed
quarter to whittle the field down to 18 candidates, who over 13
prime-time episodes will try to woo viewers into choosing them to be the
“people’s candidate.” Kind of like Ross Perot with less money, the
same ego, and probably more votes.
voted to keep pineapple. Twenty-five percent cast ballots for
watermelon. The rest voted for Al Gore but made mistakes on their ballot
so pineapple stayed put after all.
If you want
your vote to count and taste good, forget reality TV and
politics, go online and vote for your favorite flavors of Life Savers.
That’s right, from now through the end of April you can go to
www.candystand.com and vote for the flavors you think should be in the
soon-to-be new and improved five-flavor roll of Life Savers. Not only
will you have a say in the future of sugar shock everywhere, you’ll
also have the chance to win a BMW Z4 Roadster. This is a big improvement
over reality TV voting where all you get is the satisfaction of knowing
you weren’t doing something constructive like reading a book. Or
political elections where you wind up with the privilege of being able
to place a bumper sticker on your car that reads: “Don’t blame me, I
voted for _______.” Face it, voter turnout would be a whole lot higher
if there were prizes involved.
the first time Life Savers has tried to make a flavor change. Four years
ago they wanted to take pineapple out of the 65-year-old flavor line-up
and gave people the choice of adding watermelon or strawberry.
Fifty-four percent voted to keep pineapple. Twenty-five percent cast
ballots for watermelon. The rest voted for Al Gore but made mistakes on
their ballot so pineapple stayed put after all. This time, however,
they’re serious about changing it. You can choose from 11 flavors
which include mango, blackberry, green apple, tangerine, and orange,
though they don’t say how you can tell the last two apart. Other than
one won’t have seeds. It’s a shame they’re limiting the choices
and we can’t vote for Wint-O-Green, the pyrotechnics of candy. Or
maybe a few of the old favorites which they don’t make anymore, like
Choc-O-Mint, Lic-O-Rice, Cinn-O-Mon, or Cl-O-Ve. That would be quite a
five-flavor roll right there.
this voting will get people in the habit so the turnout for the next
presidential election will increase. Of course it would help if we could
vote by telephone or Internet. And yes, giving away a car in a random
drawing would be a plus. But more than that, a popular, likeable
candidate would be a good thing. After all, 125 million people enjoy
Life Savers every day, which is a lot more than enjoy any politician on
a given day. Is it any wonder with that constituency they can get people
out to vote?
©2003 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them
while voting for your favorite flavor of candidate.