What is real?

There is the basic “hit in the head with a brick” real. No arguments there. The reality is the concussion. You can also have the reality of a higher power that while not always easy to define is still realistic to a majority of humans on earth. I mean just look at the number of churches in the world – or even Abbottsford.

Then you have TV real.

TV real is a whole other hybrid that exists on a totally different plane. Remember the bar “Cheers?” I wanted to visit that bar. Everybody did. And not some lame-o facsimile of “Cheers.”  I wanted to see Sam Malone and Cliffy and Norm, or at least their archetypes living and existing and being. The feelings that show created within their audience was as real as anything you could ever want. And a reality like that means the nexus that is our day to day lives and the world of television and movies is getting more and more fuzzily-intertwined everyday.

Want proof? Kenny Kramer, the person that the character of “Kramer” from “Seinfeld” was based on is a real guy living in New York City. This man actually has a business that hosts regular bus tours around New York showing off the spots referenced throughout the Seinfeld TV show. Places like Monk’s Diner, The Soup Nazi’s place, Jerry’s Apartment, etc. He is making money by taking a show that people related to and lived through by successfully making it “even more real” just through visiting the actual filming locations. Similar things were done for “X-Files” in Vancouver,  “A Christmas Story” in Cleveland and many others. Well, now it’s time for cartoons to try reality on for size.

The Simpson’s television show has been working at making a feature-film version of their long running TV series. As they’re almost ready to unleash big-screen Homer upon us the marketing teams on the job have decided to make our reality a little more “Simpsonesque.” One of the (rumoured) tie-ins they have planned is that The Simpson’s movie will be doing a cross promotion where ten or eleven 7-Eleven stores in the US will be temporarily re-branded as “Kwik-E-Marts,” the famous Simpson’s quick stop shop owned by Apu Nahasapeemaptilon.

They will supposedly change the existing 7-Eleven signage to read “Kwik-E-Mart” and are even temporarily renaming Slurpees as “Squishy’s. They plan to carry “Krusty-O Cereal” and “Buzz Cola,” all famous brands to regular Simpson watchers.  I don’t know if “Duff Beer” will make an appearance but I’m betting not, as such a thing would likely be cited as contributing to the delinquency of minors, no matter how cool it may be. This is quite a promotion if they successfully follow it through.

It’s kind of funny to imagine anyone wishing their local 7-Eleven was anything like Apu’s version. The store is used as a pretty large tool for wicked sarcasm about our fast food lifestyle and our need for instant everything. It’s ironic (and biting) use of stereotypes cannot be ignored either.

Could the joke actually be on me for even wanting to participate in such a promotion? Am I being suckered by one of the most sophisticated marketing machines in existence? Obviously “The Simpsons” are not exactly choosy in what products they license. Even Matt Groening himself said he was amazed to see that they had licensed a “Simpson’s” asthma inhaler. Would it be such a stretch to see a home pregnancy kit with Homer’s face on it called “D’Oh.” Tasteless, of course, but that’s big time licensing.

As these worlds collide I wonder what will eventually happen when our hyper-developed fantasy worlds truly take over our day to day reality. Will we be unable to accept even the most basic reality interfering with our TV perfection? Will we refuse to engage in the less desirable or even mundane activities of living?

This could be a problem because I never notice anyone on TV spending what I would consider necessary amounts of time in a bathroom. And if TV is to eventually be my new reality I may need to borrow the key the Kwik-E-Mart’s washroom before it’s too late.

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