This Week’s Best Profile

Whatever you think of Malcolm Gladwell’s rise as a business guru, the man could turn out a magazine profile back in the day. Here he’s profiling the greatest TV pitchman of all time. It’s not Billy Mays, but Ron Popeil, creator of “the finest kitchen appliance ever made,” the Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ:

If Ron had been the one to introduce the VCR, in other words, he would not simply have sold it in an infomercial. He would have also change the VCR itself, so that it made sense in an infomercial. The clock, for example, wouldn’t be digital (The haplessly blinking unset clock has, of course, become a symbol of frustration.) The tape wouldn’t be inserted behind a hidden door – it would be out in plain view just like the chicken in the rotisserie, so that if it was recording you could see the spools turn. The controls wouldn’t be discreet buttons; they would be large, and they would make a reassuring click as they were pushed up and down, and each step of the taping process would be identified with a big obvious numeral so that you could set it and forget it. And would it be a slender black, low-profile box? Of course not. Ours is a culture in which the term “black box” is synonymous with incomprehensibility. Ron’s VCR would be in red-and-white plastic, both opaque and translucent swirl, or maybe 364 Alcoa aluminum, painted in some bold primary color, and it would sit on top of the television, not below it, so that when your neighbor or your friend came over he would spot it immediately and say, “Wow, you have one of those Ronco Tape-O-Matics!”

Read the whole thing here.  Hat tip to Kevin.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s