Don't Buy the Hemingway Disc

« March 2005 »

Memo to Febreze: YOU ARE DUMB.

While I am a leftist, I do not (and cannot, in all honesty) subscribe to much of the leftists' views about consumption. I eat at Taco Bell and like it. I own a Nintendo DS and like it. I am aware that my standard of living rests on the backs of entire Third World nations, and I feel bad about it, but under most circumstances, I don't look at the abundance of useless commercial goods as a reason for hate. Under most circumstances.

But I am more than willing to make an exception for the fine people at Febreze, a division of Procter and Gamble. Who aren't Satanists, despite what you may have heard, and aren't Satanists, despite what you're about to read. The Febreze brand started reasonably enough, when they bottled up some alcohol and cornstuff, marketed it as an odor remover, and made a killing. Which is fine as far as that goes. Sure, you could buy cheap vodka and a spray bottle and have pretty much the same effect, but the Febreze line is well within the limits of acceptable consumer products. With one exception.

Procter and Gamble has introduced Scentstories. The idea is, you get this electric air-freshener. And you get this "scent disc". And you put the scent disc in the Scentstories "player", and over the course of two and a half hours, it emits the five different scents contained on the disc. One every thirty minutes. And the scents are supposed to tell a story. Really.

Scentstories. It really is as if Procter and Gamble decided to take the entire history of written communication and just piss all over it. Instead of books, let's just fill our homes with fakey perfumes! Five smells isn't even a story to my CAT, for fuck's sake. But the level of pretension from Febreze on this knows no bounds. The $40 "player" doesn't have an ON and OFF button, it has "play" and "stop". That's nice. That way if you have to go outside sometime during Scent #2, you can pick up where you left off when you get home. Wouldn't want to miss the exposition of Scent #3, the climax of Scent #4, or Scent 5's evocative denouement. It's air freshener as consumer electronics device.

And the commercial! Upscale women in their late 20's/early 30's extolling the virtues of ScentStories! "I close my eyes, and those scents!" "It's like you're actually there!" No it isn't. It's like you're smelling an overpriced air freshener.

"All I did was pop in a disc, press 'play', and it took me back to a different time. To places I love to remember." LIKE FUCK IT DOES. Even if, by some incredible miracle of coincidence, the fine people at Febreze managed to hit upon a combination of scents that matched up with, and thus stirred, some pleasant memory from your past, who spends two and a half hours lying around in a haze of chemical reminiscence? Nobody, at least not since they shut down all the OPIUM DENS.

Basically, it's like scratch and sniff cards, if they were invented by the fucks at the Pottery Barn. Only with scratch-and-sniff, you can at least set the pace. There's no "fast forward" on the ScentStories player. No skipping ahead to find out how it ends. Which is frustrating, because the stories, as told through scent, are so incredibly gripping!

There's "Exploring A Mountain Trail", which (SPOILER WARNING) begins with "following the winding creek", moves on to "walking beside wildflowers", proceeds to the dramatic crescendo of "exploring the mountains", then hits the epic "high in the mountain pass" before concluding with "gazing at the tall firs". It's enough to make even a liberal like me track down a New Age hippie and hit them repeatedly with a baseball bat.

For bolder smellers, there's "On A Tropical Island", which is perfect for all you "Lost" viewers out there. For members of the Parents Television Council concerned, perhaps, about the effect of more violent smells on our nation's children, may I recommend "Relaxing In The Hammock", which contains no action whatsoever, or "Shades Of Vanilla", which actually contains within its five scents an action deficit, and may hasten the heat death of the universe by its very existence. They're still doing tests on that.

There's even a celebrity endorser! No less a bright, shining star than Shania Twain has developed (no really) her own (no really) ScentStories disc for you to enjoy. On the off chance you don't hate this Magic Stank Box enough, here's how the ScentStories website presents it. ACTUAL SCENTQUOTE TIME!

An artist of Shania Twain's vision applies creativity and inventive thinking to every facet of life. There's no greater example of this than Shania's personal environment. She looks to her surroundings to provide not only musical inspiration, but solace from her hectic schedule, too. To help enhance her own environment, and yours, Shania has teamed up with Scentstories by Febreze to release 'Shania's Wishes For Spring" Scentstories disc."

Because their target market is dumbasses who like Shania Twain, the page helpfully points out that the disc doesn't have any music on it, and that this page is the place to be if you want "breaking news about Shania's involvement with Scentstories." And you know some sad fucker has it bookmarked, checking in every day to see if Shania's developed any new discs, like "Dreams of Summer", "Country Memories", or "The Last Five Roadies I Humped".

Thank you Febreze, for making us laugh at the smell of love. Again.