Heterodox Views on Politics and Public Policy from Michael Blaine

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Grocery Store Gauntlet

In what other society in the history of the world besides the US has obtaining food -- the basis of survival -- necessarly entailed being exposed to pornography? Because here in America every trip to the grocery store unavoidably involves just that: as one puts his groceries on the conveyor belt for the cashier to scan, the trashy magazines right there to the side scream out: "75 New Sex Tricks"; "How To Make A Home Sex Video"; "What He Really Wants You To Do To Please Him"; "America's Sexiest TV Cop," etc. Provisioning one's home thus becomes a titillating and tawdry experience, each and every time.

Grocery shopping is an experience whose conclusion is always demoralizing, in every single sense of that word. When it comes to buying food, I am a puritan. With reluctance I suggest that our nation's self-appointed moral guardians in Congress legislate smut out of our checkout lines. ("Cosmopolitan" is the most regular offender, but there are many other imitators aimed at women, as well as some objectionable magazines for men.) As we buy food for ourselves and our families, we should be free of commodified sex. We should not have to put up with such an elemental part of our lives being turned so unseemly by decadent magazine publishers and tasteless grocery store owners.


Richard Cretan said...

Try buying a pack of cigs in Kavala some time!

In Greece you'd find the ubiquitous corner kiosks, with their cubbyhole windows lined in vivid hardcore covers, rather more bulging and bestirred than our tame food checkouts, Michael.

In fact, my friendly corner peripteron owner used to grab a copy of some boob extravaganza and hold it up and roar, "Gala!" ("Milk!") whenever he saw me coming. Such was his Zorba routine.

Still, I'm sympathetic. Where the flesh is concerned, we'd like to choose our moments. Most of us, anyway.

What I least like about the American grocery gauntlet is being forced to think about the longueurs and smash-ups of celebrity--about overpaid athletes and vapid movie stars and billionaire heiresses and their desperately trademarked, logo-fied glamor.

For me, these noisy figments hardly exist except when commerce imposes them. Out of sight, out of mind--that's the way I like it. Why does buying a loaf of bread require me to think about them, their squishy dealings, their terribly glistening Scientology brats, the torture chambers of their smiles, or their latest craptastic movie?

Michael Blaine said...

Well, at least the Greeks went all out! They didn't half-ass it like we do, pretending that the salacious reading material at the local market isn't really pornography.

As for the "celebrity" rags, they seem to tell the American public that cocaine use is par for the course, and botched liposuction is just a part of life.

They lower our community standards, while grossing us out with close-up photos of the consequences of personal recklessness.

Michael Blaine said...

I went to a "Trader Joe's" to buy groceries today: no crass magazines in the checkout aisles.

Bravo to that company!