A-maize-ingly bad commercial/pun

So I’ve been watching the US Open this week and I keep seeing this commerical. It is atrocious! (albeit somewhat less iiritating than the afore mentioned “Breakfast Club” JC Penny commerical…)

The corn syrup commercial obviously doesn’t mention that corn production is pesticide intensive, promotes erosion, depletes aquifers, etc. Hell, these aren’t new or sexy phenomena — they’re really just the mundane after-effects of gargantuan scale agriculture. Similarly, the insane rise of obesity and diabetes in the United States is happening because people eat too much sugar/corn syrup — “moderation” is not the issue. There’s nothing interesting there.

What’s interesting is that sugar (and the corn syrup designed to imitate it) is *not* a picnic-in-the-meadow, guitar-strumming “natural” category of food. While sucrose is a very common form of energy for plant cells, crystallized sugar and liquid corn syrup are *extremely* labor intensive. In his book “Sweetness and Power,” Food historian Stanley Mintz goes as far as to claim that the first activity to be organized in a way that we might today recognize as “industrial” was sugar production!

“When it is remembered that the plantation form probably first developed in the eastern Mediterranean, was perfected (mostly with enslaved labor) by the Crusaders after 1000, was transferred to (and, in part, perhaps reinvented on) the Atlantic islands by 1450, and was thereupon re-established in the New World colonies, the significance of their industrialism — at a time when industry itself was largely based on home labor, except for shipbuilding and some textiles in Europe irself — becomes more persuasive.”

Mintz goes on to describe the process by which French and British holdings in the Carribean islands were converted to sugar plantations — which in turn caused the slave trade to grow exponentially.
The slaves produced sugar for Europe’s growing class of city dwellers; the consumer’s subsquent shake-up over protectionist tarriffs contributed to the origin of the “free trade” system.

Mintz quotes Marx’s summary of how this happened:

“Freedom and slavery constitute an antagonism…We are not dealing with the indirect slavery, the slavery of the proletariat, but with direct slavery, the slavery of the black races in Surinam, in Brazil, in the Southern States of North America. Direct slavery is as much the pivor of our industrialism today as machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery, no cotton, without cotton, no modern industry. Slavery has given their value to the colonies; the colonies have created world trde; world trade is the necessary condition of large-scale machine-industry. Before the traffic in Negroes bega, the colonies only supplied the Old World with very few products and made no visible change in the face of the earth. Thus slavery is an economic category of the highest importance.”

Well, wage slavery has replaced slavery, corn syrup stands in for sugar…but the same dynamics made that shitty commerical. Except now consumers are supposed to use corn (and sugar cane) for our energy problems too…


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3 Responses to “A-maize-ingly bad commercial/pun”

  1. David Says:

    That is a pretty appalling commercial. It reminds me of those anti-drug spots that were running around 2002-2003. Mind you anti-drug commercials have always been been based on needlessly uncompelling arguments (maybe because all the creative people are in favor of looser drug laws) but this series in particular, following the idiotic conversations of “Nick and Norm,” touches on the same kind of rhetoric as this corn syrup campaign:

    I mean, I know you only have thirty seconds, but come on people! I know this isn’t targeted at a demographic that knows anything about number 2 corn, but it just seems like if I were a corn grower, I’d rather keep my public ignorant rather than arming them with an argument that’s very easily going to get shot down by anyone who actually wants to debate. At least in the former case you could just throw up your hands and say “ah, what do I know about corn?” I’d imagine most people who oppose HFCS are not beer commercial husbands.

    Also, I love the unintentional garden of eden imagery here.

  2. tripinchina Says:

    Oh man, if you like crappy commercials…have you seen the travesty featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld? It makes me want to act out aggressive urges towards my own PC.

    Also, that drugs = terrorism commercial is like a parody of itself. I’ve actually seen it before…in a documentary about the high level corruption fueling the war on drugs. The commercial fits in perfectly!

    The movie is pretty outrageous too, especially this stuff about the CIA using cocaine money to fund the Contras. If you have the time and the wherewithal, you can watch it entirely on youtube! check it out:

  3. David Says:


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