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May 21, 2011 Posted by | Advertising, Artwork, Humor?, Original Art, Parody, Pop Culture | Comments Off on From Cracked.com. If Advertising were Honest …..

DIVORCE and Reality TV: 22 families and counting

22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

By Tracie Egan Morrissey, May 2, 2011 05:15 PM

22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

There have been seven divorces that have occurred on The Real Housewives franchise in the five years since its premiere. The most recent casualty of this “divorce curse,” Vicki Gunvalson, blames reality TV for her marital troubles telling CNN recently, “We didn’t have 90 percent of the problems that we have now and I truly believe it is the show.” But can a television show really be at fault, or does it merely shine a spotlight on the cracks that were already present in the foundation of a marriage? Whatever the case, divorce and reality TV have gone hand-in-hand since the very first show in the genre in 1973, when PBS’ An American Family, which featured the breakup of the Loud family.

22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Bill & Pat Loud
It’s ironic that something as intellectually highbrow as PBS and expensive reels of 16mm film birthed what’s considered by many to be the dregs of our beer-bottle culture: Reality TV. Producer Craig Gilbert’s vision of conducting an anthropological “experiment” is something that’s still debated when discussing the genre today. With the invasion of cameras into people’s lives, are we seeing the worst of humanity or are we seeing how things really are? When the Louds were first approached about the project, they were made to believe that they were chosen because they were the “perfect” American family, which seemed to set the reasoning behind agreeing to being filmed for all reality TV families to come—an inflated sense of self and conceit in their own camera-readiness. But when filming commenced for the Louds, a mirror was held up to their lives without even seeing a single frame of their show. Perhaps it was the meddling of producers or the pointed questions they asked that helped illuminate the problems that the Louds realized they could no longer pretend did not exist. In the middle of the project, Pat filed for divorce and the drama that Gilbert had been hoping to capture on film became, well, a reality. The Louds blamed much of their problems on the series and its editing after the fact (perhaps the only people in history who could rightfully say that they didn’t know what they were signing up for with such a project). The behind-the-scenes story of the Louds’ experience with the project was dramatized for the recent HBO film Cinema Verite, at the end of which the audience learned that Pat and Bill have reconciled and at 84 and 90, respectively, are once again a couple.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey
Perhaps because of the cautionary tale that the Louds provided in the early ’70s, reality TV took a break from families for a while to focus on partying twentysomethings (The Real World) and competition-based series (Survivor, Big Brother), but eventually returned its focus on the institution of marriage with MTV’s Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica in 2003. Unlike the Louds, who were vilified, Simpson and Lachey were celebrated way more than they had been in their original careers as pop singers. But after three years of marriage, the couple announced they were divorcing in 2005, just months after the last episode of their show had aired. Simpson doesn’t blame reality TV for their breakup, telling Vanity Fair, “In all honesty, I believe it did not affect our marriage because we enjoyed watching those episodes.” Lachey, however, sees it differently, telling David Letterman, “It was just so invasive that it became a problem.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Carmen Electra & Dave Navarro
Riding on the coattails of Newlyweds success, MTV aired ‘Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen and Dave, a one-season reality show about the famous couple’s preparations for their wedding. Although they broke up less than three years after they were married, the couple agreed on one thing—reality TV was not to blame. Navarro didn’t even consider the show very realistic “because you’re not gonna be real with an eight-man crew in your house,” adding that “It’s the most realistic portrayal of…life with eight guys with cameras around.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Shanna Moakler & Travis Barker
Desperate for more married couples, MTV recruited Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and former beauty queen Shanna Moakler. The two seasons of their show Meet the Barkers chronicled their wedding and the birth of their second child. Barker filed for divorce just months after the final episode of their show had aired. But even though Meet the Barkers was no longer on the air, their relationship was still very much a show. Moakler infamously hosted a divorce party, featuring a tiered cake with a murdered, mohawked groom. The couple were then very publicly off-again-on-again for a few years until they finally divorced for good in 2008.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown
When America’s sweetheart first married R&B’s bad boy many thought it would never work. But oddly, it did—for the 14 years before they decided to open up their lives to Bravo cameras for Being Bobby Brown in 2005. In just 11 short episodes, viewers were given a very rare look into the private lives of the famous couple, and most were shocked at what they saw. Rumors had swirled about Houston’s drug addiction for years, particularly after her infamous 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, but the reality show highlighted the couple’s loving, yet erratic behavior. Just months after the series finale, Houston checked herself into rehab and reportedly stayed separated from Brown until she had a divorce fast-tracked one year later.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Linda Thompson & David Foster
Years before they were ever on The Hills, Brody Jenner and Spencer Pratt starred in the Fox reality show The Princes of Malibu, which followed the lives of Jenner and his brother as the spoiled sons of former beauty queen Linda Thompson. The premise of the show was that Thompson’s babying of her sons caused tension in her marriage to songwriter David Foster. That tension must have been very real because Thompson filed for divorce the same month that the show premiered, causing Fox to cancel the series after airing only two episodes.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Kathy Griffin & Matt Moline
Griffin and Moline’s marriage seemed strong on My Life on the D List, but evidently, there were problems bubbling beneath the surface that caused the couple to break up after the first season of her reality show. However, they reconciled briefly and Moline was filmed for the show’s second season, but the couple divorced in May 2006, several months before Moline’s last episode aired.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Danny & Gretchen Bonaduce
If there was ever a reality show “train wreck” it was VH1’s Breaking Bonaduce. During filming, Danny fell off the wagon and began openly drinking and taking steroids. He and his wife Gretchen allowed cameras to film their couples counseling. The first episode of the second season shows Danny traveling to Mexico to promote the show, where he sees for the first time an episode featuring Gretchen getting a lap dance from a male stripper and he subsequently loses his temper. Gretchen then kicked him out of the house. The couple divorced a year later.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Linda & Hulk Hogan
The Hogans had something very rare among entertainment-industry families—a solid marriage that spanned nearly a quarter of a century. They opened up their lives for the VH1 show Hogan Knows Best in 2005 and in just two short years their 17-year-old son Nick was indicted as an adult on four criminal charges and sentenced to eight months in jail, a story surfaced in The National Enquirer in which a woman claimed to have had an affair with Hulk while he was filming his show, and Linda filed for divorce (just one month after the final episode of Hulk Knows Best aired). Hulk found out about the filing when a local newspaper called him for a comment.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Missy & Bam Margera
In 2007, Bam Margera threw caution to the wind and featured the planning and ceremony of his marriage to Missy Rothstein on Bam’s Unholy Union, despite MTV’s dismal track record with the relationships of the couples featured on its reality TV programming. In 2009, Bam was hospitalized after a four day drinking binge, which he said was sparked by his marital problems. In 2010, Bam told Howard Stern that, although they are not officially divorced, he and Missy live in separate cities and she is aware of his various girlfriends.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jenni Pulos & Chris Elwood
Bravo’s Flipping Out is about decorator/house-flipper Jeff Lewis and his staff, who must put up with Lewis’ demanding personality due to his OCD. Two of his assistants—Pulos and Elwood—were married before they began working for Lewis. During the show’s second season, Lewis fired Elwood after a surveillance video revealed that he was shirking his responsibilities and not doing his job properly. Pulos divorced Elwood shortly after, citing the tape as “a factor in their breakup.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Katie Price & Peter Andre
The marriage of glamor model Katie Price (aka Jordan) and pop singer Peter Andre was a match made in reality TV heaven when they met while filming I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2004. Audiences watched live as the couple fell in love. It was only natural for them that they continue their relationship on television, where they had a kid, got married, and had another kid while filming several one-off reality specials and eventually a series titled Katie & Peter. After three and a half years of marriage, the couple divorced, and while their breakup was not chronicled for television, the aftermath of it was with Price’s new show What Katie Did Next.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Kate & Jon Gosselin
The breakup of the Gosselins’ marriage dominated tabloid covers for a solid year, beginning in April 2009 when it was first reported that Jon was having an affair with a local woman. Perhaps the public was so consumed by the story because, unlike most reality TV couples, Jon and Kate were not famous before their show Jon & Kate Plus 8, a relatively mundane family show which featured the Gosselins raising their children—a set of twins and a set of sextuplets. The Gosselins’ brand, success, and entire reason for being (on television) was because of their family. Watching Jon’s misbehavior—the Ed Hardy shirts, the cigarettes, the late nights, the young women, the bikini parties in Vegas, the purchase of a two-seater car when he has eight children—play out in real-life was fascinating and completely antithetical to what TLC purported him to be. Jon blamed the media for “exploiting” his children in some kind of weird power play to get more money to appear on the reality show. Ultimately, he was kicked off the show and it was renamed Kate Plus 8. For her part, Kate never blamed reality television for any of their problems, but rather Jon, for being a selfish person.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Susie & Corey Feldman
Susie and Corey were married (by officiant MC Hammer) on the season finale of The Surreal Life in 2002. The returned to reality TV in 2007 for The Two Coreys, an A&E show which was originally intended to be a light-hearted account of Corey Haim moving in with the Feldmans, but spiraled into something completely different by the show’s second season, with Haim’s drug problem overt and out of control. Many scenes showed Haim lashing out at Susie Feldman. Corey Feldman refused to continue the project unless Haim got sober. (Sadly, Haim died of a drug overdose in March 2010.) In October 2009, Susie filed for divorce.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jeana & Matt Keough
The Keoughs have the unfortunate privilege of being the first breakup in The Real Housewives franchise after they legally separated during the third season of The O.C. version of the show. Matt, a former major league baseball player, never liked the cameras and didn’t participate very much on the show. In interview segments, Jeana shared that Matt had a bad head injury that affected this personality, and later admitted that he struggled with alcoholism. In the summer of 2009, Matt was arrested for DUI and was later sentenced to eight months in jail. After the Keoughs’ money problems became public knowledge through the show, Jeana pulled out of the series.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

The Count & Countess de Lesseps
The next Housewives couple to split were the de Lesseps, from the New York City cast, which came as a shock to viewers as there were no signs of marital problems. In fact, the Count was barely featured on the show due to the amount he had to travel for work. It turns out that the couple had been living separately for years—he in Europe and she in New York—and that he had been carrying on with an Ethiopian princess, for whom he eventually left his wife.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Tamra & Simon Barney
Although theirs was the third divorce to occur in The Real Housewives universe, the demise of Tamra and Simon’s marriage was the first to actually play out fully on the show. We watched as they suffered from financial trouble, forcing them into a short sale of their home. We watched as Simon became more controlling. We saw Tamra attempt a last-ditch effort to save their relationship by unwisely having his name tattooed on her finger. Eventually, Simon filed for divorce and (along with his children) no longer participates on the show. However, the couple’s drama is still very much playing out in the public eye, as they release statements and contact the press about their alleged bad behavior.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Cat & Charles Ommanney
As part of the ill-fated D.C. cast of The Real Housewives (the first in the franchise to not be picked up for a second season) Cat’s husband had a very impressive job as the award-winning White House photographer for Newsweek. Admittedly, Charles’ job involves a lot of political skill, so it impacted his career negatively when his new wife signed on to a tawdry reality show. Before the first episode even aired, the couple split; Cat’s involvement with the show and association with the Salahis, the infamous White House crashers, negatively impacted Charles’ career. In an interview with The New York Times, Charles blamed the show for the dissolution of his marriage saying, “In a way, I was naïve and foolish to sign off on doing this. But, at the end of the day, it was innocent. I wanted happiness for someone I was in love with. I put all my reservations aside and said: ‘Go for it. Do it if it makes you happy.’ Then I regretted it. I lost touch with everyone, and mix that with my marriage falling apart and the show taking over, it was very sad.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

NeNe & Gregg Leakes
Much of season three of The Real Housewives of Atlanta focused on NeNe’s marital problems that were evidently sparked by her husband’s finances. The split seemed final, though, later in the season when NeNe learned that Gregg had given a radio interview in which he blamed his financial troubles on the amount of money that he had to spend to make NeNe appear wealthy in order to secure her a position on the show. She filed for divorce in June 2010, yet told Essence in December that she and Gregg were still legally together and living under the same roof, but hinted at the fact that they would, in fact, divorce, leading many to believe she was saving the drama for season four of the show.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Camille & Kelsey Grammer
It’s odd to think that Kelsey Grammer, a successful actor, would need or want to be involved with a reality show—particularly one that would expose his marriage, which had reportedly been sexless for many years. It’s also odd that while the show was filming, he would move to a different city and embark on an affair with a younger woman, for whom he eventually left his wife and married. But according to Camille, Kelsey had already emotionally checked out of the marriage, and pushed her into getting involved with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as a distraction, saying, “He thought it would be good for me to do something that was separate from us being a couple.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Vicki & Donn Gunvalson
As the last remaining original cast member of the original incarnation of The Real Housewives, Vicki Gunvalson shocked viewers after she filed for divorce in October 2010. The news came after season five of her show, which showed Vicki and Donn’s relationship healthier than ever after the renewed their wedding vows for their 15th anniversary. Vicki blames the show for her marital problems.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jennifer & Eric Williams
The problems that plagued the marriage of Jennifer and (former NBA player) Eric Williams—namely Eric’s infidelity and a possible love child—were broadcast on the first two seasons of VH1’s Basketball Wives. After endless talks between the couple of saving their marriage, Jennifer confirmed to Life & Style in February that she was filing for divorce, the drama of which can be expected to play out on the third season of the show, premiering later this month.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Leah Messer & Corey Simms
Messer and Simms have had a crazy two years. They became pregnant with twins after only dating for about six weeks, tried to make it work, but then broke up shortly after the birth of their daughters (one of whom is a special-needs child), all of which was chronicled on their episode of 16 & Pregnant. They reunited on Teen Mom 2, and got married in a camo-themed wedding on the season finale. However, just six months after getting married (and only three weeks after the wedding episode aired on MTV) Messer filed for divorce, making them the youngest reality show couple to break up, as well as being the shortest-lived reality show marriage.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Advertising, Cheating, Child Exploitation, Child Labor, Couples, Danny Bonaduce, Dating, Divorce, Fame, Gosselin, Gossip, Greed, Housewives, Humor?, Pop Culture, Real Housewives of New Jersey, Real Housewives of NY, Reality TV, Reality TV Suicides, Rehab, RHNJ, RHNY, TLC, Workplace | Comments Off on DIVORCE and Reality TV: 22 families and counting

Kate plus 8 back on TV

Ken Tucker Review of Kate plus 8

‘Kate Plus 8’ season premiere review: It’s off to a brilliant start… or is it?

Kate Gosselin began the new season of Kate Plus 8 episodes by showing a new side of herself. Charming, witty, and endearing, she managed to overturn a widespread image of herself as petty, mean, and selfish. The new episode took the family-minus-Jon to  Australia, where…

Awww, I’m just kiddin’ ya.

Kate Plus 8 was tedious whenever it wasn’t painful. Accompanied by two helpers necessary to aid a mother who chooses to shepherd her children through two airports while wearing spike heels, Kate took the children to Sydney. There, they threw boomerangs, and watched fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Guess what? Cara had a meltdown during the fireworks.

To offset the even poorer image she accrued during her appearance on Sarah Palin’s Alaska, Kate emphasized her new-found adventurousness and good-sportiness. “I had a little redeeming to do,” she said of her Alaska livid-diva turn. “I’m in the mode of challenging myself,” Kate told the camera when she was safely back in her Pennsylvania home. Continue reading

April 5, 2011 Posted by | A Minor Consideration, Advertising, Attention WHORE of the YEAR, Child Exploitation, Child Labor, Divorce, Employment, Gosselin, Gossip, Greed, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Sad Children, TLC | 1 Comment

Russell Brand hosts SNL — Chris Brown is Musical Guest

Russel Brand is a trending topic on Twitter. Too bad his name is spelled RUSSELL BRAND. I have never in my life met somebody named Russel. Have you? He’s hosting SNL to promote his new film, Arthur. Some people really dislike Russell Brand and others find him hilarious. The musical guest is Rianna-beater Chris Brown. Remember the days when Nora Dunn wouldn’t perform on the show with Andrew Dice Clay because she found him sexist? (May 12, 1990).

Nora Dunn exited from the show in 1990. Rumor has it that her contract was not renewed, but it probably didn;t help that she boycotting Andrew Dice Clay’s May 12, 1990 hosting gig.

Nora Dunn, as a result of her boycott against Andrew Dice Clay, did not perform in any sketches during the May 12, 1990 episode. From Retrojunk.com

As far as I know, Andrew “Dice” Clay has never smashed a woman’s head against a dashboard. I’m disappointed in NBC for having on Chris Brown. Meanwhile, I love Russell Brand and I’m glad he was on the show and that Hulu (where I will watch it later) doesn’t usually show the musical acts.

I’ll admit that I don’t know Chris Brown’s music. I don’t care. There are many other musicians, famous or unknowns, that deserve to be showcased on SNL before Chris Brown gets his ‘second chance’ at charming his public.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Advertising, Russell Brand, SNL | Comments Off on Russell Brand hosts SNL — Chris Brown is Musical Guest

Google Celebrates Lennon’s 70th Birthday

 

October 9, 2010 Posted by | Advertising, Artwork, John Lennon, Lennon | Comments Off on Google Celebrates Lennon’s 70th Birthday

Things that are just “frosting my pumpkin!”

My BFF used that phrase once and I never forgot it. A few thing have been bugging the hell out of me and I just want to vent about them:

(no particular order)

  • Subway’s new breakfast commercial. I think there should be a law that says you cannot use the universal alarm-clock beeps on TV. It’s THE MOST annoying sound and those of us that need to hear that sound 5, sometimes 6 days a week, really don’t need to hear that sound while we are supposedly relaxing. I am boycotting Subway. That’s my silent protest. Togo’s is much better anyway.
  • The sexualization of young girls. A dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” is performed by 7 year old girls. I’ll preface this by saying the girls are very talented and obviously put a lot of work and practice into this performance. The parents of these girls should be arrested for child pornography. The girls are scantily clad with bikini tops and booty shorts, and they are gyrating and moving like strippers. I’m not linking the video here for obvious reasons. Turn on the TV. They continually show it in order to discuss it. Yeah, that makes sense. I don’t even want to begin on Miley Cyrus and her pimp, I mean daddy, Billy Ray. Joe Simpson, Joe Jackson, Dina Lohan, Michael Lohan, Jon and Kate, Duggars, Jenners (Kendall and Kylie), pageant moms, and any parent who uses their children for financial gain. It seems child labor laws don’t keep up with the lack of ethics of companies and parents.
  • Awkwardness. There is somebody I’ve known my entire life. I love this person and we have many things in common. However, when we talk on the phone (few times per year) it’s awkward, uncomfortable and we have to think of topics to discuss. TV shows, assholes, work, etc. but it’s not the easy banter I have with say, Jen, who’ve I’ve only known about about  10 months. I just don’t get it and I want that tension to be gone.
  • Facebook. Yes, I’m on it but I hate it. It’s wonderful and has increased my social life. I’ve reconnected with dear friends that Ilove, family members that I’m closer to now than ever before and teachers that are no longer “Mr.” but now are known by their first names. However, it’s the “dating” aspect that gets dicey. Oh, I won’t get into it but lets just say I have a very strong love/hate relationship with facebook.
  • Puberty. ’nuff said.
  • This NEWSWEEK writer crap about “gay men can’t play straight men.” Yeah, well Rock Hudson proved otherwise. If gay men can’t play straight, the theater wouldn’t exist. Does one have to be a drug addict to play one? How about a prostitute or murderer? The main point is that gay men have been playing straight men in blockbuster hit movies for decades. If they play straight in real life, doing it in the movies is a piece of cake.
  • Annoying co-worker. Oh boy, do I have a good one. This person checks my work (it’s not his job) and attempts to boss me around. He’s impatient, rude, lazy and filthy. He comes in with stinky food, sings annoyingly to songs not on the radio and cannot put simple papers (with holes punched) into an open binder.
  • Cancer and Aids. I have a few people in my life, whom I love dearly, and these people are living with these awful diseases. We can put men on the moon, grow ears on mice, clone sheep, allow old farts to have 3 hour erections and miracles happen in operating rooms and research labs every single day. Why these two awful killers can’t be eradicated from society is baffling to me.
  • AMC showing “Breaking Bad” coming attractions DURING the initial broadcasting of an episode. They do this about 40 minutes into the program and it reveals spoilers that hadn’t been tied-up yet.Get it together AMC, this is the best show on TV and the viewers are loyal and obsessed.
  • Not having a dog. It annoys me that I don’t have a dog.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Advertising, Breaking Bad, Child Exploitation, Child Labor, Dating, Dick Van Dyke, Employment | , | Comments Off on Things that are just “frosting my pumpkin!”

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Advertising, Artwork | Comments Off on

Conan O’Brien Update from Dallas Comedy Examiner

Conan O’Brien is currently shaping up for his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour”, while also trying to smooth out the wrinkles in a proposed deal to host a new talkshow on FOX starting in January.  Dude’s busy, but– according to sources from “Team Coco”– that’s not why he’s taken himself out of the running to host this year’s Tony Awards on CBS.  Is this just another restriction outlined in his “gag order” from NBC, or did Conan just not have time to host the Tony’s?  We’ve got the details below, my gentle Examiner readers…CLICK to continue . . .

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Advertising, Comedy Examiner, Conan O'Brien, Gossip, Greed, Humor?, Hunky Men, Workplace | , | Comments Off on Conan O’Brien Update from Dallas Comedy Examiner

New from Jibber Jabbers

March 11, 2010 Posted by | Advertising, Artwork, Attention WHORE of the YEAR, Gosselin, Gossip, Greed, Humor?, Reality TV | , , | Comments Off on New from Jibber Jabbers

Toilet Paper History: How America Convinced the World to Wipe

Linda Rodriguez

by Linda Rodriguez – November 7, 2009 – 12:24 PM

Since the dawn of time, people have found nifty ways to clean up after the bathroom act. The most common solution was simply to grab what was at hand: coconuts, shells, snow, moss, hay, leaves, grass, corncobs, sheep’s wool—and, later, thanks to the printing press—newspapers, magazines, and pages of books. The ancient Greeks used clay and stone. The Romans, sponges and salt water. But the idea of a commercial product designed solely to wipe one’s bum? That started about 150 years ago, right here in the U.S.A. In less than a century, Uncle Sam’s marketing genius turned something disposable into something indispensable.

How Toilet Paper Got on a Roll

toilet-paper-1The first products designed specifically to wipe one’s nethers were aloe-infused sheets of manila hemp dispensed from Kleenex-like boxes. They were invented in 1857 by a New York entrepreneur named Joseph Gayetty, who claimed his sheets prevented hemorrhoids. Gayetty was so proud of his therapeutic bathroom paper that he had his name printed on each sheet. But his success was limited. Americans soon grew accustomed to wiping with the Sears Roebuck catalog, and they saw no need to spend money on something that came in the mail for free.

Toilet paper took its next leap forward in 1890, when two brothers named Clarence and E. Irvin Scott popularized the concept of toilet paper on a roll. The Scotts’ brand became more successful than Gayetty’s medicated wipes, in part because they built a steady trade selling toilet paper to hotels and drugstores. But it was still an uphill battle to get the public to openly buy the product, largely because Americans remained embarrassed by bodily functions. In fact, the Scott brothers were so ashamed of the nature of their work that they didn’t take proper credit for their innovation until 1902.

“No one wanted to ask for it by name,” says Dave Praeger, author of Poop Culture: How America Is Shaped by Its Grossest National Product. “It was so taboo that you couldn’t even talk about the product.” By 1930, the German paper company Hakle began using the tag line, “Ask for a roll of Hakle and you won’t have to say toilet paper!”

As time passed, toilet tissues slowly became an American staple. But widespread acceptance of the product didn’t officially occur until a new technology demanded it. At the end of the 19th century, more and more homes were being built with sit-down flush toilets tied to indoor plumbing systems. And because people required a product that could be flushed away with minimal damage to the pipes, corncobs and moss no longer cut it. In no time, toilet paper ads boasted that the product was recommended by both doctors and plumbers.

The Strength of Going Soft

In the early 1900s, toilet paper was still being marketed as a medicinal item. But in 1928, the Hoberg Paper Company tried a different tack. On the advice of its ad men, the company introduced a brand called Charmin and fitted the product with a feminine logo that depicted a beautiful woman. The genius of the campaign was that by evincing softness and femininity, the company could avoid talking about toilet paper’s actual purpose. Charmin was enormously successful, and the tactic helped the brand survive the Great Depression. (It also helped that, in 1932, Charmin began marketing economy-size packs of four rolls.) Decades later, the dainty ladies were replaced with babies and bear cubs—advertising vehicles that still stock the aisles today.

whipple
By the 1970s, America could no longer conceive of life without toilet paper. Case in point: In December 1973, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson joked about a toilet paper shortage during his opening monologue. But America didn’t laugh. Instead, TV watchers across the country ran out to their local grocery stores and bought up as much of the stuff as they could. In 1978, a TV Guide poll named Mr. Whipple—the affable grocer who implored customers, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”—the third best-known man in America, behind former President Richard Nixon and the Rev. Billy Graham.

Even still, the toilet paper market in the United States has largely plateaued. The real growth in the industry is happening in developing countries. There, it’s booming. Toilet paper revenues in Brazil alone have more than doubled since 2004. The radical upswing in sales is believed to be driven by a combination of changing demographics, social expectations, and disposable income.

“The spread of globalization can kind of be measured by the spread of Western bathroom practices,” says Praeger. When average citizens in a country start buying toilet paper, wealth and consumerism have arrived. It signifies that people not only have extra cash to spend, but they’ve also come under the influence of Western marketing.

America Without Toilet Paper

Even as the markets boom in developing nations, toilet paper manufacturers find themselves needing to charge more per roll to make a profit. That’s because production costs are rising. During the past few years, pulp has become more expensive, energy costs are rising, and even water is becoming scarce. Toilet paper companies may need to keep hiking up their prices. The question is, if toilet paper becomes a luxury item, can Americans live without it?

The truth is that we did live without it, for a very long time. And even now, a lot of people do. In Japan, the Washlet—a toilet that comes equipped with a bidet and an air-blower—is growing increasingly popular. And all over the world, water remains one of the most common methods of self-cleaning. Many places in India, the Middle East, and Asia, for instance, still depend on a bucket and a spigot. But as our economy continues to circle the drain, will Americans part with their beloved toilet paper in order to adopt more money-saving measures? Or will we keep flushing our cash away? Praeger, for one, believes a toilet-paper apocalypse is hardly likely. After all, the American marketing machine is a powerful thing.

This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. Toilet paper image courtesy of Cary Norton

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Advertising, Men of a Certain Age, Shopping | Comments Off on Toilet Paper History: How America Convinced the World to Wipe