In the summer of 2004 I was the campaign manager for my buddy BIG Ben Mahony,, when he attempted to run for parliament, in the Yukon, for the fabled Parti Rhinoceros Party.
Him being a rookie Rhino, you could say I was BIG Ben’s beast of burden.
As the leader-schmeader of the Rhinos, part of my burden was to come up with an economic development plan for the territory that is larger than California, with a population of about 30,000.
RHINOS WOULD BRING HIPPOS TO THE YUKON, screamed the front page of the Whitehorse Star on the day we revealed our plan to boost tourism. That august news organ quoted my silly self as saying (or slurring, more likely), that we would make the Yukon a tourism hotspot by “genetically modifying exotic animals so they can live in the Yukon, and battle it out on the streets of Whitehorse. This will also give us an opportunity to answer that age old question: Can a polar bear kick a lion’s ass?’ Every day, five o’clock, lion versus a polar bear, tiger versus a grizzly bear, kangaroo versus a moose.”
Since coming to India, I’ve met a half dozen international tourists .who came to West Bengal in the hopes of seeing tigers in Sunderbans National Park.
None of them saw so much as a single tiger. When I asked some of the locals if they knew anyone who had seen tigers in the park, they said, “No.”
That can be very damaging to the tourist trade, obviously, if the disappointed tiger tourists report their disappointment en masse, online. So, I have a solution. Star telling the world that Sunderbans is the home of the smartest tigers on the planet! The big cats have learned that humans are nothing but trouble, so they disappear whenever the two-legged meatsticks with cameras, and guns come around.
Which is funny,
but even the most braindead of the two-legged metsticks will catch on, eventually. In the fifteen years since I first championed the idea of manufacturing genetically modified animals to draw hordes of tourists to the Yukon the science behind the idea has gotten stranger. Much stranger.
I have no doubt that beasts like that would draw millions of tourists, but the primitive, superstitious natives would be thoroughly wigged out They would gun down and est them faster than we could pump them out of the lab/factory, resulting in a massive loss of money. So, I have another idea (surprised?).
This one should be palatable to one and all. It goes like this.
Once upon a time, I knew a little boy. He was six years old. He LOVED to EAT!
Before long, he grew a nice little Buddha belly (he also shrank and got an unreal tan!).
When he had finished stuffing himself, he would hike his shirt up, pat his belly, and giggle, “My so fat!”.
He had no inhibitions about his little Buddha belly.
But, after a couple years, he became ashamed of his belly. Apparently, he had become ashamed of his belly. It was not a huge belly. He was not obese. Unlike this poor victim of child abuse,
the boy of whom I write was not unhealthy. But he had become a victim of fat shaming, all the same. At the age of eight, he had already developed a neurosis.
I don’t want to get into a discussion about what is, and is not, healthy for children. I bring you this story because I have been thinking about that little boy since I came to West Bengal.
I have been thinking of him because Bengalis seem to have no shame about not having what many in The West would consider a less than optimum body mass index. Bengalis are not ashamed of being… plump. Or, dare I use the word… fat?
That’s great! Again, I do not want to enter into a discussion about what is, and what is not, healthy, other than to say that developing a mental disorder over one’s weight is very unhealthy.
In The West, there are many advocates of what it known as the Body Positive movement.
And corporations are buying into the message.
Since Bengalis are body positive, why not lay out the welcome mat for overweight tourists? Their money is just as good as anyone else’s, right?
I am not talking about a large advertising campaign that basically says, “Yo, fatsio, come over here and give us your money!’ I’m talking about one test ad, that is so honestly, yet tastefully placed into a much larger message that it will not be considered crude and crass.
Here’s the idea for the ad, which could be the start of a much larger tourism marketing campaign for West Bengal.
It opens with scenes of Bengalis eating,
They are all enjoying themselves immensely.
Then, a voiceover comes in:
“We don’t care if you’re fat.”
And there it is! The dirty word. FAT. In The West, you can’t say someone is fat. You have to find another word for it. I can use it, though, because I am fat! My so fat!
So, just by using the word once, in an ad with a much larger, far more important message, thee will be controversy. There will be a debate about whether or not it is okay to say some people are fat, even if you are saying you don’t care if they are fat. Even if the people saying it are fat. And the people on the screen will be fat. All sizes of fat. And they will be laughing and shaking their heads in agreement with the narrator.
Then the narrator says,
“We don’t care if you’re fit,
“We don’t care if you’re black,
or even green,
just so long as you’re not mean!’
“We don’t care if you’re Muslim,
“In West Bengal, we LOVE you all!”
The scene on the screen is of smiling Bengalis nodding their heads in agreement.
(the scene on the screen is the Benaglais holding their arms open)
“to the HEART OF INDIA.”
(he scene on the screen is an outline of India, with a beating heart where West Bengal is)
I’m just “thinking out loud” here, but this could be the start of a marketing campaign to brand West Bengal as the most loving place in the world. Branding.
Next time I’m gonna tell you to turn West Bengal’s empty coal mines into gold mine.