September 16, 2008

Keeping You At Your Peak

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More and more, I am being asked by individuals why my column, in which I usually tell humorous stories about my life, is in the arts section of The Sun. I respond to these Naïve Nancys, by reminding them that humor indeed is an art form attempted by many yet mastered by few, and that my life is a masterpiece in the works. Some, though, just won’t have it.
For that reason, I decided that I would placate those whom wish I were not in the Arts by donning my aesthete hat this week and using my column to critique graphic design and propaganda. In order to appeal to the broadest base of readers, I will be dissecting Gannett Health Services’ shiteous imagery that presently can be found on their website.
Gannett Health Services’ tagline is “keeping you at your peak.” They emphasize it by ingeniously showing a snow-capped mountain top on the header of their webpage. Once you read that, you may wonder — “What is being at one’s peak and what does that feel and look like?” Luckily for the Cornell community, they show us.
Apparently when you are at your peak you fly through the air in exaggerated kung fu poses as lightening strikes. That seems about right to me. Obviously, I drink too much to be at my peak, but one day I hope to get there.
Let’s take a closer look at these two breathtaking images. Each possesses a significant amount of depth that can be easily, and unfortunately, overlooked. I will dissect them step by step so that no nuance is missed. First we have the young woman who actually appears to be being electrocuted by the lightening — note the full body glow- a common side effect of being at your figurative peak.
Girlfriend also has a lot of look going on — I’m sure Sun columnist Martin Ambrose ’09 could have a field day with her. Gannett, though, surely intended each faux pas so that this one person represents as many demographics that they offer aid to as possible. She appears to be of East Asian decent (no, there is no ubiquitous LV bag, just the sallow skin and characteristic eyes), but has dreadlocks — so clearly she is intended to be multiracial, or, at best, confused. She is wearing large, black work boots indicating that she is either a lesbian or a member of the counterculture gothic group. Her ripped circa 1992 high-waisted jeans and her facial expression, though, debunk the latter theory because gothic people are not allowed to wear color or smile.
Being a sexual minority allows her to be under Gannett’s newly expanded term of LGBTQQI individuals (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning Your Sexuality, Queer, Intersex). I would like to digress a bit and suggest that the labeling might be getting a little out of control. They should just cut the crap and now term them ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ peoples — they will have to in ten years anyway.
Back to our beauty. She is wearing a black, long-sleeve belly sweater. Yep- take another look. Soak it in. So not only does she have no sense of acceptable style, but she is also a harlot. That, too, is fine because Gannett does all types of testing for STIs and offers sexual counseling. There is also regular counseling for her in case she is made fun of for her “individual” sense of style. I am not sure that she would need either service, though; she is at her peak.
Featuring a male subject, the second photograph is also pretty damn funny. This guy appears to be a thick-assed, fully clothed ballet dancer hurdling over an imaginary obstacle while holding and imaginary tray as he soars through the air and avoids the standard lightening. I will let you to read into it what you will.
Honestly, though, can you imagine how the marketing meeting for these must have gone at Gannett?
Director of Communications: “We need something dynamic and different to shake it up and grab people’s attention for the website! I am tired of the same old staged pictures of ethnic students awkwardly hugging.”
Creative Mind 1: “How about a Big Red transsexual pterodactyl flying through the air eating a bag of Cheetos and playing a game on its iPhone?!”
Director of Communications: “No, no, too tame — too expected. I think Yale did something like that last year. And I need the subject to undeniably be at his or her ‘peak.’”
Creative Mind 2: “Well, what about a racially cockeyed, painfully attired girl suspended mid air while doing a karate kick as her inner power force (which looks a lot like lightening) springs forth from her nether regions?”
Director of Communications: “I’ll take it!”
Maybe the Gannett people are so much at their respective peaks that the thin air affects their sensibilities. Or, more probably, they just blazed before their branding meeting — this is Ithaca, after all. Either way, the health center has at the very least succeeded in making us laugh at their tomfoolery. And, well, that is good for our health. Kudos, Gannett, keep it up.