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The Products We Hate

Introducing a new series, “Crowdsource,” where we tap the masses’ wisdom for your entertainment. This week, TMN readers and staff explain which products the world should destroy.

The world is full of junk, and more arrives every second by the giga-ton. For this month’s Crowdsource, we asked our readers and staff to tell us, as profanely as possible, what they’d like to see eradicated from the world. Let the loathing fly.

Andrew Womack

I suspect bad things will come of Doritos® Late Night® All Nighter Cheeseburger® Flavored Tortilla Chips. This is a tortilla chip (corn) that scientists say tastes like a cheeseburger (beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and bread), that marketers say goes best with late nights and good friends (drunk and alone).

Let’s put aside the fact that these tortilla chips aren’t going to deliver the jocular good times their name implies. Let’s put aside that a real cheeseburger is likely a healthier food choice—except let’s not, because the ingredients list shows THEY ACTUALLY PUT A CHEESEBURGER IN THERE. Yes, that burger’s been powdered, but it’s right there: “natural beef flavor.” And also cheese (Swiss cheese, even). And yeast—for the bun? There is also protein.

But no, let’s put even that aside. Because what makes DLNANCFTC so repulsive, so unforgivably awful—a Tea Party in your mouth, if you will—is that you’re now eating a shelf-stable hamburger. They couldn’t sell it to you in a box at Target, so they put it in a bag of chips. All that, and babies love them.

Lauren Frey Daisley

An open letter to everyone who applies family decals to the back windows of their SUVs: If I know you, I already know how many children and pets you have. If I don’t know you, all I care about is that you use your turn signal when switching lanes. Simplistic stick figure decals that scream “I am a white person with hobbies that require club membership” make me think suburban America is a wasteland of overconsumption masking widespread arrested development. Congratulations on your four children—two of them twins!—who like karate and ballet. I like straight razors sharp enough to scrape off stickers without ruining the UV protective finish of high end car windows.

Tobias Seamon

Alli: I first came across this disgusting addition to the pharmaceutical industry while waiting in line at the drug store. I’d already heard this particular chain’s PA announcement boast, “With us it’s personal.” I thought that slogan must have come from someplace all family-friendly in the Midwest, because you don’t tell a New Yorker it’s personal without having a fight on your hands. Anyway, threatened that my pharmacy chain takes everything personally and waiting forever, I studied the Alli display and learned it’s some kind of weight loss drug with about six million warnings attached to it. Bad things like you shit your pants. I thought I was misreading it at first but no, the side effects were listed as fecal urgency, gas, and uncontrolled anal oil seepage.

Later, I asked my wife if she’d ever heard of this evil Alli and she burst out laughing, telling me the women on her make-up chat-board were all over it, warning everyone to watch out, this drug totally makes you shit yourself. All I can say is what the fucking fuck. If you want to lose weight that badly, go swim in the Congo, contract dysentery, and crap yourself to heart’s delight in some goddamned jungle hut, but do not buy this stupid fucking drug. When there’s a wall-sized display for pants-shitting, it’s personal.

Justin Stone

Advanced Telecommunication Platforms. We should have stopped at the rotary phone. The picture of Frank O’Hara, who reveled in his telephone conversations so much that he turned the same attitude to poetry, embodies the absolute limit of humanity’s reach. I’m done with long-distance relationships enabled by Skype, I’m done with checking tweets from Iran, and I’m most certainly done with WiFi-cloud-RSS-feeds-checking on the summits of my mountains (which I do here in Korea).

Get me back to dashed-off postcards and handwriting. Get back to the tangible photo booth wallet inserts. Back to widows’ walks and telegrams. I want my mail carrier to be that special part of my life that he or she was in the ‘80s. I’ll even take back my fax machine—at least it made handwriting still the joy that it was. Death to Foursquare, with a teaspoon and two lumps, please.

Meave Gallagher

I hate many things, so very many things, but as we’re paying attention to pig 05049 again, it seems timely to address my hatred of hidden animal parts in nearly every product we have ever (had) manufactured. Specifically, gelatin.

Surprise, gelatin’s everywhere! Your life is held together with boiled-down bones, skins, and sometimes organs from our livestock pals. Why? Convenience? Because “we’ve made this food/weaponry/face cream with gelatin for so long, we can’t change!” No, don’t change because gelatin is fucking repulsive and easily replaceable in these modern times! Keep on extracting that collagen!

If companies can make products without gelatin at roughly the same cost and quality as with gelatin, why do they still use it? If you’ve proven you can do better, don’t keep doing the fucked-up thing. It makes me so goddamn ANGRY, I want to move to weirdo separatist California, start a commune of disgruntled vegans, grow our own food from the wheat up, and never deal with a corporation again. I read “gelatin” and I see slaughtered pigs. Fuck you forever for using gelatin everywhere and totally removing it from the concept of “pig.” Pigs are clever and interesting, not sources of future face creams and food-improvers.

Llewellyn Hinkes

If you really want to feel depressed about the waste and income inequality in the world, nothing says, “you are a wretched, petty slave to consumer goods” quite like an episode of Downfall. Take one cup of financial desperation and another half of “shit being blowed up real good,” and you’re halfway there. The rules are simple enough. Contestants try to answer trivia questions to win prizes like any other garden-variety game show. In this one, if you don’t answer in time, the luxury dinette set you were about to win is catapulted off a roof to its destruction.

When was the last time you were like, “Hey Dad, what’d you think of the new Gucci Mane?” and he was all, “Other than that it’s a fucking awesome paean to the human spirit, dickwad?”The loss of a mere dinette set is nothing to fret over, but the whole spectacle makes me ill to think about. The process reeks of the powerful humiliating the groveling. That luxury item you can’t afford to ever hope of owning? We just set it on fire rather than give it to you. Just because we can. It’s like ripping up a hundred dollar bill in front of a hobo you’ve just demoralized, then spitting in their face and saying, “double or nothing?”

I doubt the producers intended this effect. I assume they thought it would have the enthusiastic glee of a demolition derby. Instead, it comes off as a shaming ceremony meant to demean the contestants for not knowing useless trivia or the hyper-inflated values of ordinary grocery items.

Liz Entman Harper

I hate Just For Men 5-Minute Hair Color. I especially hate the ghastly, clumsy ads with their wink-wink-nudge-nudge sports metaphors. They’re like Axe ads, as envisioned by your creepy Uncle Walter who hasn’t dated since the Reagan administration. Do they work? Really? Because I can’t think of any target market they don’t insult. Who do they think is actually going to put this in their shopping cart? Men who wonder, “Does my gray hair make my dick look small?” Or maybe women who think, “If only my man’s hair were darker, I could finally have a vaginal orgasm!” Although I have to admit: Whoever managed to make Just For Men seem like a better investment than $10 of lube and five minutes of oral is a fucking genius.

Pasha Malla

People, can we not have any more “paeans to the human spirit”? Every time I see this as critical praise, after once again having to look up the word “paean,” I feel weirdly tricked, even lied to. Is “a paean to the human spirit” what Maeve Binchy sits down to compose, at her mahogany desk overlooking the Irish Sea? Is this why Andie MacDowell took the role of whoever opposite Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral—to lend her voice to that glorious paean (to the human spirit)? I mean, when was the last time you were like, “Hey Dad, what’d you think of the new Gucci Mane?” and he was all, “Other than that it’s a fucking awesome paean to the human spirit, dickwad?” That’s never—not even once—happened to me.

Monica Lewis

Any number of sights on a stroll through our 21st-century world can (and often do) provoke my ire. Yes, I have been deemed a crabby fussbudget for my tirades against motorized lollipops, aftermarket rear spoilers, and velour tracksuits. However, no product so encapsulates the slovenly, disposable culture of the overfed, underperforming populous in these disjointed states of Amerika quite like Go-Gurt.

Go-Gurt: A product that fills me with a singular sense of despair-mottled rage. Go-Gurt: A cruel prank perpetrated by those asshats at General Mills who surely pioneered this abomination as a prank and must have been horrified when it actually sold, thinking, “Sweet Jesus, people really will eat any manner of slickly packaged shite.” Go-Gurt: A name so cloyingly cutesy it reeks of focus groups, R&D, and evil. Go-Gurt: Seriously, has it come to this? Are we truly this fucking lazy? Never mind that yogurt in its current incarnation more closely resembles a dessert than its vaguely healthy progenitor, but I refuse to believe that we have been reduced to suckling sugared slop from plastic tubes for nourishment. I think of Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad Gita, standing before the dairy case at Kroger, head bowed in sorrow, haunted by what humanity has wrought against itself, “Go-Gurt is become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Kevin Guilfoile

Bathtub crayons are only ever purchased as gifts. No one has ever bought a box of bathtub crayons to be used in their own home, unless that home was already overrun with raccoons. Most of the waxy residue ends up in the bathwater, and eventually on my children, which is at cross-purposes with the idea of cleaning them. Toddlers emerge from the bath covered in blue grease, like a Na’vi baby at a home birth. That is, when they finally do emerge after about an hour of alternately drawing with and chewing on their bathtub crayons. Maybe you’re the kind of parent who wishes bath time could go on forever, who wants their children to learn to enjoy playing without end in their own Crayola-tinted filth. I am not you.

So irritating when your closet is full of anything but the basics. No white T-shirt, no good jeans, no Brazilian Lips Vagina Brooch to pin to your lapel like a decoy.When I was in college I lived down the hall from a large, Marine ROTC guy from Massapequa, Long Island named Tom Cummings. If Tom walked into the bathroom before class and there was a long line for the shower, he would lay siege to the commode with angry expletives. Then he would poke each of us in line and scream these very specific instructions with his nose in our faces: “Ya get in there! Ya shine ya head! And ya get out!” We obeyed. In fact that has been my showering mantra ever since. Tom Cummings’s head would explode at the very idea of bathtub crayons. Even that would be easier to rinse from my bathroom grout.

David Brewster

If I see another hands-free mobile phone earpiece I will squirt liquid fire from my eyeballs in a torrent of fury until the wearer is nothing less than a bubbling blob of electronics and skin on the pavement. Dead-eyed fools randomly talking to themselves, causing confusion until they turn around and you see Satan’s mobile ear dick hanging limply on their face. Invariably the wearer must speak in a braying, self-satisfied drone about the length of woodscrews or the poor bus service. The use of such an abomination of electronics implies the owner’s hands are so important that they must be kept free. If only they were indeed pediatric surgeons or cell biologists, but 99 percent are overweight men in their late forties who still live at home with their mother and wear white socks to bed. They use one hand to scratch deep up the cleft of their bottom and the other to clutch a sweaty, melting Snickers. The phone calls they receive will not alter history for mankind. This is no Cuban Missile Crisis. They will at best notify the wearer that they are having lasagna for dinner and can they bring home some toilet roll.

Nozlee Samadzadeh

Rosecrans Baldwin, who the fuck do you think you are? Twitter account deleted, Facebook wall disabled, personal website changed to an enigmatic fucking Tumblr with photos and videos but no captions. I bet you think you’re really special, abstaining from social media while maintaining enough of a presence to be socially acceptable in this internet-aware world. Well look here, mister: I had a couple of your old tweets favorited. You even at-replied me once. And now they’re gone! Deleted at a click, as if they were nothing more than overshared remarks on a micro-blogging platform. And that’s saying nothing about the fucking adorable animated GIF of an elephant that used to be on your personal website! You know what I say? Attach some words on that Tumblr, get a wall on your Facebook, and come back to Twitter. We miss you over here.

Rosecrans Baldwin

Hey, Nozlee Samadzadeh, eat my fucking football pump. I’m so glad you brought this up because I was just about to say how much I fucking hate social media. I hate the phrase, I hate its faux connections, they smell like paste—they’re huffable, they’re addictive, and they give a shitty, short-lived high. Why not fucking talk to one another? Oh, do I hate “liking” things? How the more I “like” things, the less time I have to like-them like-them? Oh and MALCOLM FUCKING LOWRY what happened to the fucking telephone? Do you know how good the telephone was, Nozlee? Fist me.

I know how boring this sounds, how corny, but maybe because IT’S TRUE. Silence is golden, but privacy is atomic number 78. Nozlee, let’s put this out in the open, this is straight directed @ you. I don’t “like” you. I never did. I happen to like you much more than that and for reasons that exceed a character limit. But that crap doesn’t micro-blog and we shouldn’t let it. Social networks turn human relationships into shrink-wrapped hamburger, identical to everything else on the shelf. Let’s not let that happen, not to us. Call me. You know the number.

Matthew Baldwin

You know what? I’m going to give you vampires. They’re erotic. They’re dangerous. They’re brooding. They sparkle in the sunshine or some such horseshit. Seriously, I get it. But Jesus H. Christ with a groupon, enough with the effing zombies already. And don’t even start with that hooey about how they symbolize rampant consumerism, or the inevitably of death, or our national fear of contagion. That might have been true once, but now zombies join robots, aliens, and Nazis as just a generic population of creatures on which the protagonists can unleash unspeakable carnage without the creator getting picketed by the target group (as happened with George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Belgians). Trust me on this one: America is ready to move on to the next monster craze. (Related: watch for book one of my series of Sexy Chupacabra Juvenile Fiction, due out March 2011 from Knopf Doubleday.)

Bridget Fitzgerald

Jeggings should not exist. There is no reason to promote this trend of slightly overweight adolescents stuffing themselves into clothing made for stick figures, or underwear made to look like outerwear, or the lethal combination of the two, and fawning over one another in the dressing room. Those of us who do not wear things that are NOT pants as pants are left to bite our tongues in the cavernous chill of the department store and hope you have more responsible parents. Except then your mother will walk in, in what is undoubtedly a cheetah-print cardigan (seriously? when it became a joke, didn’t you look at that and say, maybe I shouldn’t buy it?) and she’ll be holding an ARMFUL of leggings painted to look like jeans, and probably wearing a pair, too. And those of us who wear actual pants, or only wear leggings to yoga class (because anywhere else, you realize you have spandex hugging your butt, in public), or at least put a skirt over the leggings in order to hide the fact that one is wearing leggings (because THAT’S THE IDEA) have to concentrate on other things and call one’s little sister to make her swear, right then, that she’ll never, ever, wear jeggings.

Portia O’Callaghan

I hate coloring books. They stifle creativity and foster baby consumer desire, since everything these days is branded. Give my child a piece of plain white drawing paper and she creates a masterpiece every time—a blond woman in a heart-shaped dress with spherical purple high heels; a Kerberos that represents her family, one body with three heads. But give her a Barbie coloring book and she obsesses over staying inside the lines, and her babbly self-talk veers toward Mattel and Santa Claus, as if she needs another input channel for marketers. Is this what we want for our future?

Maggie Mason

I get a lot of my jewelry on Etsy, but when a new piece arrives, part of me is always disappointed that it isn’t shaped more like a vagina. You know what I mean?

It’s like, you spend hours trying to pull together the perfect outfit, and then you’re all, “I have a wardrobe gap that can only be filled with a Vulva Love Glitters Yonic Clutch.” Which? So irritating when your closet is full of anything but the basics. No white T-shirt, no good jeans, no Brazilian Lips Vagina Brooch to pin to your lapel like a decoy.

I know some of you guys are shaking your heads right now. You’re all, “It’s not a vagina, Maggie. It’s a vulva.” And yeah. You are so right.

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers