If you’ve read fantasticdrivel at all (or even just perused the tag cloud), you’re probably well aware of my fondness for breasts. I think they’re great. Moreover, I really like women. Especially strong-willed, capable, intelligent women—like Lady Liberte, the unofficial mascot of fantasticdrivel.com. Therefore, I have no problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: a month devoted to saving women and their breasts by raising awareness about breast cancer.
I’ll also add that, as a graphic designer and an advocate for a public awareness cause (Adams Place), I’m beyond impressed by what the Susan G. Komen Foundation et al have been able to accomplish in terms of branding (i.e. the pink ribbon).
I do feel, however, that sometimes companies go a little too far in trying to get a piece of the Pink October pie. I’m not talking about pinkwashing (yes, it’s a word; read more about it on wikipedia); I’ll give these folks the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are dedicated to the cause and not their own profit. Just because it’s for a good cause, that doesn’t make it a good idea. I think you’ll see what I mean by the time we get to pink pumpkins (below).
October is the pinkest month of the year, and it seems to be pinker each time it rolls around.
In case you somehow didn’t notice: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), and pink is its signature color. It started with pink ribbons, the official symbol of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation since its founding in 1993. The idea wasn’t completely new: the Susan G. Komen Foundation had handed out pink ribbons at its 1991 New York City race for breast cancer survivors. But things got official in 1993.
NBCAM predates the pink ribbon, however.
NBCAM was founded in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca, maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs). The aim of the NBCAM from the start has been to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer. |from Wikipedia
By 2012, almost 30 years later, NBCAM has become a very successful, high-profile campaign. I don’t know when the changeover really began, but sometime in the last decade or so we moved from pink ribbons for breast cancer to just pink.
No offense to the pink padres (above), but pink isn’t a great color for a football team. It doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of your opponents…which could be why no NFL team has pink as one of its colors.
I’m actually guessing that the padres don’t typically wear pink jerseys. The picture is from nfl.com/pink, and the text on the photo suggests that they are “getting their ‘pink on’ to fight breast cancer.” The NFL didn’t go full-padre and dress its players in pink, but it did pink out its cheerleaders.
You can buy Pink NFL shirts, Pink NFL hats, Pink NFL mini-footballs, Pink NFL mini-helmets, Pink NFL nail polish, Pink NFL scarves, Pink NFL charm bracelets, Pink NFL necklaces, Pink NFL earrings, Pink NFL wristbands…and that’s just the stuff I could fit into the graphics above. There’s more pink stuff where that came from (nflshop.com).
But my favorite pink product in the breast cancer awareness category at nflshop.com: the Pink NFL Christmas tree ornaments. Mostly, I love the presentation.
(Keep in mind that these ornaments are sold on pages peppered with the word “breast.”)
If you don’t see the irony here, allow me to explain “guy vision.”
[See diagram at right ( . Y . ) ⇒]
Surely, someone at nflshop.com has enough breast awareness to notice that this particular breast-cancer awareness product looks like breasts—largely because of the visual presentation. They could have saved space by just showing one ornament and noting somewhere that it’s sold in sets of two.
Is this just an ironic coincidence? Something boobishly overlooked? Or is the very boobishness (i.e. breastlike appearance) of this item one of its selling points? Maybe even a carefully calculated marketing stratagem?
We may never know. But one thing is clear: the NFL is definitely on-board the Pink October bandwagon. But that particular bit of boobery is not what inspired this post.
the pink pumpkin
I noticed these “beauties” at my local grocery store sometime around mid-October. Like the other pumpkins (the traditional orange ones), they were on display just oustide the store. This worked to their benefit and their detriment.
Grocers have a tendency to group similar types of fruits and vegetables together. Green apples, for example, are often displayed alongside red apples. That way everyone knows they’re apples. By placing the pink pumpkins with the traditional orange pumpkins, my local grocer had helped me identify them as pumpkins (benefit). He had also reminded me what a regular, healthy pumpkin looks like (detriment). To put it another way, he helped me notice how irregular and unhealthy these pink pumpkins looked.
I’ve been referring to them as “pink” pumpkins here, not because of their color, but to distinguish them from regular pumpkins. I could tell they were different, but if you’d asked me to describe them I probably would have opted for adjectives like “pallid,” “wan,” or “sickly” long before “pink.” It wasn’t until the third or fourth time I walked by that I saw the writing on the box, which informed me they were breast cancer pumpkins—and therefore pink.
Now I’m in an awkward place. I know they’re supposed to be pink (for breast cancer) but they look “fleshy” at best. And now that I’m thinking about breasts (if I wasn’t already; see guy vision diagram, above ( . Y . ) ⇑), I can’t help but notice how boobish these pink pumpkins are. They look like breasts. In fact, it might take more imagination to look at some of these pumpkins and envision a jack-o’-lantern instead of a bare bristol.
I tried making the guy vision diagram with this pink pumpkin picture, but thanks to the perky “stem” on the plumpkin, it kept turning out a little too blue. I might talk about upping the t-factor a lot, but at the end of the day I like to keep things pretty PG-13. So I reworked it into a fictional logo/label design, providing me an opportunity to talk about my favorite piece of cockney slang.
“bristol city” rhymes with…
I most recently discussed Cockney rhyming slang in an epic Liga Weekly post about the origins of the word “o.k.” I’m reposting some of the salient points here.
Cockney links a word to a rhyming phrase, then uses that phrase as a substitute for the original word—but truncates the phrase so that the rhyming part is left out. For example:
|omitting the rhyming word:|
|titty (•)||=||(•) bristol city|
|and in the plural:|
|titties (•)(•)||=||(•)(•) bristols|
|“She’s got lovely bristols!”|
I was delighted to find that the wikipedia article on rhyming slang described the process almost exactly as I had when I wrote about cockney for the zw3 pt 2 post. It turns out there is also an obscure word for the process of omitting the secondary rhyming word (“hemiteleia”), although a google search for hemiteleia suggests that “obscure” is a very generous designation for the term: it gets about 2,460 results…pretty puny for a google search. But fantasticdrivel.com is on there!
The construction involves replacing a common word with a rhyming phrase of two or three words and then, in almost all cases, omitting the secondary rhyming word, in a process called hemiteleia, making the origin and meaning of the phrase elusive to listeners not in the know. |from Wikipedia
too much of a pink thing
To wrap up my thoughts on the pink pumpkins: it just doesn’t work. I understand where the idea might come from. People buy pumpkins in October (because of Halloween). People buy pink stuff in October (because of NBCAM). So why not sell pink pumpkins in October?
Because they don’t look like pumpkins and they don’t look pink.
the hunt for pink october
Ok, enough of that. Let’s tie this post back to its
tittle and corresponding graphic posted at the top.
The title alludes to the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October,” based on the Tom Clancy novel. The film stars Sean Connery, whose rugged visage became the face of the film, etched in monochromatic shades of red on promo posters and VHS cases. My poster for “The Hunt for Pink October” contains a few small changes while maintaining the same iconic design. Mostly.
To completely connect the dots, you need to have some familiarity with some of the greatest Saturday Night Live sketches of all time, “Celebrity Jeopardy!”
Celebrity Jeopardy! are sketches that aired regularly on the television comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live between 1996 and 2002, the years when Will Ferrell was a cast member. It parodies the same-named special event on the television quiz show Jeopardy! which features competition between notable individuals with all winnings going towards charitable organizations, and significant reductions to the game’s level of difficulty…Ferrell appeared in all fourteen sketches, portraying host Alex Trebek. Darrell Hammond also appeared in each sketch, twelve times portraying Sean Connery, in an impersonation that “often questions Trebek’s sexuality and sometimes implies that he has known Trebek’s mother in a carnal sense.” |from Wikipedia
Although two of the fourteen sketches don’t include Sean Connery, I think it would be appropriate to characterize the series as Trebek vs. Connery with some extra celebrity impersonations on the side. Darrell Hammond’s Connery treats the game as though it was some sort of grudge-match battle-of-the-wits between him and Will Ferrell’s Trebek, throwing out taunts and proclamations of victory whenever possible. For example:
“You’ll rue the day you crossed me, Trebek!”
“The day is mine!”
“Not a fan of the ladies, are you, Trebek?”
“I’ll show you a finger, Trebek!”
And that’s just from one episode: Cruise, Sandler, Connery (S24:E04; October 24, 1998)
You really should watch the video, if you can, because it’s something of a classic. I’ve summarized Connery’s Final Jeopardy answer below.
|The Final Jeopardy question. Contestants are to write their answer on the top half of their personal touchscreen and write the amount they wager on the bottom half.|
|They reveal the top half of Connery’s screen, containing his answer: “indoors.” This appears to be a valid answer, much to Trebek’s surprise…|
|…but when they then reveal Connery’s wager, we see that “indoors” was just the top part of “I (heart) boobs.”|
“I (heart) boobs” is a perfect slogan for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Pink October). The sentiment is expressed by Sean Connery who was the star of “The Hunt for Red October.”
and that’s fantastic drivel.