Monday, June 21, 2004


Yes, Father's Day has come and gone. One of Hallmark's most successful invented holidays. Let's hope they sold a lot of cards.

My relationship with Hallmark goes back to my teens. It was then when they unleashed one of the most terrifying, evil commercials to ever hit the airwaves. It still chills me to think about it.

Maybe you've seen it. A grandmother at home gets a surprise visit from her daughter in law. "Happy birthday mom!" says daughter-in-law. DIL gives Grandma a birthday card. "Oh sweetheart, thank you so much!" replies grandma. "I love you." says DIL.

Then, as DIL goes into the next room to see if the azaleas need watering, grandma makes sure she's out of sight and then discreetly looks at the back of the card to determine if it is a "Hallmark" brand card.

This commercial makes a very simple point, and makes it succinctly. All sentiment is pretense. All love is false. The delicate, gossamer bond between two human beings who care for each other is actually pure contrivance. As it turns out, the only measure of one's worth is actually how much money one spends on greeting cards.

It was after seeing this commercial that Hallmark became mine enemy.

Hallmark is a bloodthirsty, soulless enterprise. They have made their name and earned their fortune by convincing you that you need to buy a card. That if you don't buy a card, you are an asshole. That the only way you can demonstrate a satisfactory amount of affection is by making a gift of a card. Of course, they don't state it quite like that. You have to wait until they accidentally tip their hand, as they did in the grandma commercial. That was a rare glimpse.

You don't hear too much about "Sweetest Day", which was a failed Hallmark holiday intended to compete with Valentine's Day. Actually, you can still find it on some calendars. It's in October. But the irony is that Hallmark was essentially trying to compete with itself. Valentines Day is, for all intents, a Hallmark invented holiday.

Sure, it was originally a religious observance where inclined Catholics could send their sweethearts poems and flowers. But now, Valentine's Day is a fully secular ritual, and observance is compulsory. If you choose not to get something for your wife or girlfriend, then you sir are an asshole. Thanks Hallmark!

When people periodically complain that Hallmark should not be inventing holidays out of thin air, Hallmark comes back with the ready response that they never "invented" anything. They'll be happy to point out that it was one Agnes Maybell, who in 1916 first started honoring grandparents in her home town of Duluth, and that Hallmark is proud, proud I tell you, to keep Agnes' dream alive that all grandparents should be honored and celebrated.

Fuck you, Hallmark!

Tomorrow, I'll branch out beyond just the Hallmark holidays and let you know which other holidays I think are total BS. Stay tuned.

No comments: