No one knows that better than the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, a.k.a. the childrens museum.
There’s a perfect illustration in today’s Star-Telegram. Check out the two-color (purple and black) 6x3 ad stripped across the bottom of the Fiesta Bowl commemorative section’s cover. “Fossil fuels. They’re a gas,” the ad’s headlines say. See that dinosaur wearing a football helmet and holding a “Go Frogs!” pennant? See that cloud-shaped burst of flatulence?
Is that any way to cheer? Is that the museum’s comment on all this purple rah-rah stuff? Nationally ranked TCU is going on national TV tonight, and the museum trots out a dinosaur that rips a fart?
I can hear the reader reaction now. Some will be appalled. The bridge club president, chilled and horrified by such open crudeness, will protest. A young and very godly mom will lash out, warning that she won’t be able to show her children the section during home school because farts are not funny and have no place at the table of righteousness. And probably there’ll be some media-hating devotee of Rightness who’ll condemn yet another example of how media filth is responsible for every social ill in the land.
But I’ll bet far more readers than not will laugh as hard as my wife and I did this morning when we saw the dino fart and howled. Struck me as marketing genius with a sense of humor and lightening-up that our politically smothered society desperately needs. The museum knows exactly how to communicate and bond with its market. And is there a better bonding, yea demystifying, agent than farts? What clears the air of pretense and prudeness better than a rowdy fart or a silent, deadly cloud of horror that can empty a crowded space in seconds and force brutally frank discussion. What better example is there of the common ground that humans share with monkeys, bovines and all other sources of greenhouse gas emitters? Farts level the playing ground of life.
I remember the story that a dear friend of mine, the late political consultant Martha Ricks, told me back in the '70s about Sen. John Tower and how he enjoyed standing in the back of a packed elevator in Washington and quietly ripping a deadly burst of flatulence that would send the starchy, snooty occupants into a nervous shuffle and a stampede toward the door at the elevator’s next stop. And who knows? Maybe that resulted in some life-saving exercise for those who opted to take the stairs.
Maybe the museum’s on to something that newspapers should note. They’ve been trying, and failing, for a long time to reach young readers with content that’ll hook 'em on making the daily paper a regular part of their lives. Maybe plain old grossology holds a solution.
I suppose the most compelling question I have about the museum’s ad is why the colors weren’t reversed. Why wasn’t the fart purple instead of white? A purple fart would’ve had way more visual impact, I’d say. So many people and businesses are saying they bleed purple, which is becoming a pretty worn-out, frayed phrase. But the dinosaur could send a fresh message: “I fart purple!” But maybe that would’ve crossed some sort of line. Something may have hit the fan.
What do you think?