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WTF Friday: Too Soon? February 22, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius.

First of all, I should preface this post with the disclaimer that if Hacienda’s Mexican Restaurants isn’t going to use this as their corporate slogan, I may have to appropriate it for myself.

Ah, I do love me a margarita.

And I love me some tasteless jokes.  If you make me laugh, groan, and cringe at the same time, I love you.  I will follow you anywhere.  Hacienda’s, I would stop in for a bite of your Mexican chain-restaurant food if only because I love love love how you thought outside of the box (and the boundaries of good taste) in your roadside advertising.

I will drink your Kool-Aid, and I’d like mine on the rocks with no salt.  Thanks.

But that shit don’t fly in South Bend, Indiana.  A public outcry made Hacienda’s take down the ad.  And in South Bend a public outcry is one upset woman.

And I quote:

“Patricia Barbera-Brown of South Bend, who lives a few blocks away from one of the billboards, said she was so shocked when she initially read the message that she drove around the block.  ‘I thought perhaps I had misread the sign,’ she recalls. ‘It brought back quite a few horrible images and memories, and the very notion that a local restaurant would trivialize such a worldwide tragedy to simply increase their sales of cocktails is outrageous to me, and it offended me to the core.’

“She sent an e-mail to Hacienda’s executive telling them the billboards weren’t ‘funny at all,’ calling them ‘extremely offensive and very irresponsible marketing.'”

My first thought was that I didn’t see it making fun of any specific cult but of the idea of cults themselves.  Certainly Jonestown and the spiked fruit punch spawned the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid,” but in modern American slang, some 33 years after the fact, it means simply being too stupid to think for yourself so you do what everyone else does.

You know, like what people who join cults do.  People who are missing something in their lives but aren’t sure what it is, so they go floundering about looking for whatever it is that feels right in that particular emptiness.  I argue that what they’re probably missing is the common sense God gave a goat if they see their salvation in a wild-eyed madman like Jim Jones, Charles Manson, David Koresh, or Marshall Applewhite, but that’s neither here nor there.   Long story short, the outsiders want to belong and cult leaders can give them that.

So the disenfranchised get a heady taste of belonging, of being one of a group, of fellowship coated in a thick layer of melted cheese and refried beans and figure, since that’s so tasty, they’ll swallow just about anything their messiah puts in front of them.  And, like a Mexican dinner, they probably should have some inkling that it’s probably going to end badly, and yet, God bless ’em, they just don’t get it until it’s too fucking late.

Hacienda’s Mexican Restaurants is suggesting that they’re like a cult because they know you.  They know your pain:  that there’s an empty hole in you that only they can fill.  What they’re offering is so good that if you come by just once you’ll be a regular customer for life.  You’ll see the light.  You’ll be powerless to resist.  You’ll suckle at their enormous Mexican teats over and over again long past the point where you haven’t had a solid bowel movement in months.  But if that’s not enough to lure you in, consider the bonus that their Kool-Aid is full of tequila and comes in a salt-rimmed glass and probably won’t kill you.

They’re like a cult that knows you have a need, and they want to satisfy you.  And I think on some level we all know that eating at a local Mexican chain restaurant is going to end badly, but goddamn it, those chimichangas are irresistible.

Comedy is tragedy plus time.  Thirty-three years is well past the statute of limitations on this particular one, I think.

Now, who wants to hear a Christa McAuliffe joke?  Anyone?



1. Cindy in Happy Valley - February 24, 2011

I’m so tired of wimpy people I can’t tell you. Jeeze…get a grip, or at least a sense of humor!!

BTW, Love the billboard!!

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