Tracie McBride, a fellow member of the Hopefull Monsters writing group, posted a fascinating blog entry about lies and advertising. She elegantly ties pending legislation in Australia that would to limit the way cigarettes can be packaged back to fiction writing.
I’ve never been a big fan of product packaging. I find much of the packaging in the U.S. to be misleading, especially food packaging. I agree with Tracie that it might be nice to do away with the “lies”, even if it makes things in the grocery store less interesting. Maybe I’m one of the few who think that way, but I’m more interested in making an educated decision about a product than trying to sort through the litany of non-sense that appears on most commercial products.
I particularly like the way Tracie brings this discussion back to fiction. As a fiction writer, I sell lies. I invent people, places, and events; then I sprinkle in bits of reality to confuse the reader about what is real and what isn’t and try get them believe the whole package. Yet as Tracie so astutely points out, writers admit up front that we deal in lies. The name of the job itself says it all: fiction writer. Maybe product packages need to have this disclaimer printed on them in large letters: “This package is a work of fiction.”
If you haven’t already, I recommend you check out Tracie’s blog, not mention her extensive body of published fiction—it’s good stuff, even if it’s full of lies.