Sometimes artists and writers turn their attention to the everyday objects that dot our world and the results are a joy. Texan Bucky Miller did so this Monday in the online art publication Glasstire, where he devoted a full essay to a packet of HEB-branded toilet paper.
Miller was in New York, so the toilet paper was at least a little out of place since he wasn’t native. “I bought it on my way out of Houston a few weeks ago, and it’s the most Texan object in my neighborhood,” he tells us. Then he focuses on the packaging. On the product’s plastic packaging are printed two cartoon pandas, carrying a huge roll of toilet paper itself. “Texas Size MEGA ROLL” reads the label.
“I’m fascinated,” Miller writes, “and I immediately have to spend time with these bears. “
So for 1,000 words it does. Pandas, he notes, are a shameless game of Charmin bears, the primary mascots of toilet paper. But there are differences. On the one hand, HEB pandas do not have bear children. “With this exclusion, HEB suggests that their affordable product is suitable for consumers without children,” he writes. “It worked on me.”
Yet the image is undeniably derivative. And that is, for Miller, what is so charming. A bear is sweating. “He alone feels the strain of their task. They do the same thing as all cartoon toilet paper mascots: point out the large size of the roll. But there is a difference, says Miller: These bears have no shame about what they sell. Unlike Charmin’s TV spots, there is no wink. “What makes pandas special is how seriously they and HEB describe the idea of grand. This is the main feature.
In Texas – and in the case of counterfeit advertising – we don’t have to hide our affinity for the bigger, the better. Of course, this is naive. But isn’t that rather endearing? Details: Read Miller’s essay on glasstire.com.