Quality Control

Wisegeek.com describes quality control as:

…a process employed to ensure a certain level of quality in a product or service. It may include whatever actions a business deems necessary to provide for the control and verification of certain characteristics of a product or service. The basic goal of quality control is to ensure that the products, services, or processes provided meet specific requirements and are dependable, satisfactory, and fiscally sound… The goal of a quality control team is to identify products or services that do not meet a company’s specified standards of quality. If a problem is identified, the job of a quality control team or professional may involve stopping production temporarily. Depending on the particular service or product, as well as the type of problem identified, production or implementation may not cease entirely.

Through the course of decades in business, thousands of brand names purveyed, and millions of products carried, Forbidden Planet has encountered some of the best Quality Control the geek world has ever known. Manufacturers/publishers such as Nintendo, Fanatgraphics, Fantasy Flight Games, Ultra Pro, and Kotobukiya are reliable stalwarts whose products’ mere mention provoke an assured mental picture of quality, dependability, durability, etc. In a world of “buyer beware” such lofty standards are all too commonly thrown out the window in service of greed, or laziness, or a quick easy buck.

While this column is often concerned with shaking up the Yoo-Hoo can, jumping into the plasma pool, and acclimating us all to changing this entropic world, there’s something very positive to be said about knowing whatch’re gonna get out of something. That one can be secure in a purchase. The kind of knowledge that when one buys a “Super Mario” game one is pretty much assured A) it ain’t gonna break on you, nor will it be defective out of the box and B) the value in what you’re purchasing is worth it. That Mario game’s almost assuredly going to be be fun, and give you many hours of pleasure it has that nifty little Nintendo seal of quality.

Remember: Quality control.

So, didja watch the Giants of New York win the Super Bowl? Helluva game. While I’m more of a baseball guy, I nevertheless got real kicks watching football this year. And the season’s climax was, like I said, one helluva game. Some friends and family and I got together to eat a mountain of crappy food, consume many flagons of mead, have a few laughs… just as many a household did this past Sunday. I’ll even admit the spectacular win by Big Blue was enough to warrant a few high fives from gentlemen not normally of the “High Fivin’ White Guy” ilk. Namely me.

The commercials, as much a draw as the actual game itself for most viewers, were however a great source of consternation and disgust for me. One, produced by Dan Wieden and David Kennedy, more so than any I’d suffered in a long time. One in which the Thanksgiving Day balloons of Underdog and Stewie (from Family Guy) vie desperately for a balloon Coca-Cola bottle, its refreshing goodness and sugary caffeine nectar so desirable as to send them bouncing around the city recklessly. All of a sudden a third character rises from the concrete jungle to win the prize.

Charlie Brown.

The commercial ends with him catching the Coke. You could say I was shocked and appalled. You could say dogs and cats living together. You could say mass hysteria.

Now, I’m under no illusions that the Peanuts characters’ likenesses have been lent out to endorse millions of items before, but I cannot recall their character ever having been so soullessly compromised- never so callously, odiously- in the service of corporate advertising. Charlie Brown never kicks the football, doesn’t grow up to marry the Little Redheaded Girl, and sure as shit doesn’t get the Coke!!! Charles Schulz never intended him to win.

Am I outraged by the applause and accolades ignorant TV/Commercial pundits (and a nation so obsessed with the underdog coming out on top that they must proclaim “nobody believed we could do it” as inspiring motivation for damned near everything as simple as breathing) have heaped upon this abomination? Yep. Should I lighten up on this one? Maybe. Do I wish everyone involved in this commercial (including whoever on the Schulz side signed off on this) had better respect, judgement, and quality control of the charge the property’s late creator bestowed upon them? Betcher bottom dollar.

You gotta have standards, kids.

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