Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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October 18, 2012 • Editorials

Binders Full of Women, Bic Pens For Her, and Satire Product Reviews

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Satire is probably my favorite form of humor. Everything and everyone are fair game, from products to Presidents. And with the speed at which social media and the Internet can move, it doesn’t take long for a Tumblr meme or Facebook page to get rolling. The latest trend: fake product reviews on Amazon.com. It started with Bic Pens, and now has spread to binders thanks to Governor Romney’s “Binders full of women” comment. But should Amazon let these spoofs stay live on the product pages?

Context is key here. First, let’s look at the “BIC Pen For Her” reviews. Bic described the pens like this:

Product Description
BIC Cristal For Her has an elegant design – just for Her! It features a thin barrel designed to fit a women’s hand. It has a diamond engraved barrel for an elegant and unique feminine style.

Yes, Bic really did imply that women need delicate shiny pens, because those other pens are just too masculine and big. Not surprisingly, this generated quite a few reviews:

Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long! I use it when I’m swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga. It’s comfortable, leak-proof, non-slip and it makes me feel so feminine and pretty! Since I’ve begun using these pens, men have found me more attractive and approchable. It has given me soft skin and manageable hair and it has really given me the self-esteem I needed to start a book club and flirt with the bag-boy at my local market. My drawings of kittens and ponies have improved, and now that I’m writing my last name hyphenated with the Robert Pattinson’s last name, I really believe he may some day marry me! I’m positively giddy. Those smart men in marketing have come up with a pen that my lady parts can really identify with.

Where has this pen been all my life???

Originally, I went into the office supply store to grab some preciseV7 pens, but when I saw these, I had to get them. The normal black pen casings are just so hard on the eyes. It was like a breath of fresh air to see lady colored pens. For once, I don’t have to grip a giant, man-sized pen just to sign receipts at Saks. And the ink just hits the paper so smoothly, not at all like the rough, gritty man ink in Bic’s normal pens. My only complaint is that they are a bit finnicky. When I was copying down recipes from my neighbor, it worked just fine, but as soon as I sat down with the bills, nothing. It wouldn’t work! But that’s okay, my woman brain gets all muddled trying to figure out finances anyway.

I must say I’m really disappointed that we gave women the power to write. Lately they’ve been thinking they can do things like vote, get jobs, and speak their minds! As if their opinions are worth as much as their husbands’ or something. Quite frankly, I miss the days when the women were at home knitting and cooking and raising the children–not writing. This pen is only aggravating a harmful situation that we ourselves brought upon our society.

I have no sympathy for BIC, or any brand damage that was done due to all the sarcastic reviews. They brought that on themselves with a badly named product and bizarre description. And the reviews are targeting the company and the product, which makes sense.

But what about the proliferation of binder reviews on Amazon? These aren’t because Avery made an offensively named binder, it’s because Governor Romney made a comment that set off the satire alert on the Internet. There have been some funny jokes on Facebook, but should Amazon be ok with all the binder jokes on actual product reviews?

Here’s an example of the reviews for the Avery Durable View Binder with 2-inch EZ Turn Ring:

As a woman, I’m not adept at making decisions that concern me. So when I need the right choice, I turn to the presidential candidate that KNOWS. One with prideful experience in this department. I don’t want to be filed away in an inferior & confusing electronic doohickey that I couldn’t possibly understand. Or heaven forbid, have a man ask for & listen to my ideas! I’d much rather rely on this top of the line, 1980s style, Avery Durable binder. It’s the choice America can trust. My education, my ideas, my opinions, my choices, please PLEASE keep them safely stored away here and far away from the men that might fear them (I mean, want to use them to hire me somedaynever). I’d write more about this most useful product, but it’s time I hurry home to make dinner.

Maybe it’s just my women, but they don’t seem to want to fit into the space I’ve designated for them in this binder. They keep sticking out over the edges, even getting away in some cases. I thought using clear, glass-ceiling page protectors would help, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down anymore.

I’m going to have to resort to more severe three-hole punching, to keep my women in line. And maybe switch to the Trap Her, Keep Her.

As a woman who doesn’t leave work early to cook dinner, I struggled to prove to my employer that I’m worth the full 72% of a man’s pay. How could I, working 16-hour shifts, ever be seen as pulling my weight, when other women were heading home to do their domestic duty?

Thank goodness for this binder. Now, each day when dinner time rolls around, I’m able to select a stereotype-friendly woman from the binder to go home and cook. This leaves me free to fritter away the entire evening at work, while still collecting the full 72% paycheck. And my boss is none the wiser! Thanks to this binder, I’m on Easy Street!

I will be honest: I lost about 20 minutes this morning cracking up at these reviews. I thought it was hilarious, but when I sent it to Dan, he was puzzled at first. It wasn’t until I reminded him about Governor Romney’s gaffe that he got the joke.

This has the potential to be a problem for Amazon and Avery down the road. It’s timely now, but in six months when some office manager is looking for binders for a conference, they aren’t necessarily going to remember, or find this funny any longer. Satire reviews depend heavily on context and timeliness. In the case of Bic Pens, the context is extremely clear, since the “joke” is right in the description. On the other hand, if you haven’t followed the debates closely, or if you simply forgot, this just seems like an odd and off-putting flood of comments that have nothing to do with whether or not the binder is worth buying.

I honestly don’t think the binder reviews are going to stay up much longer. The pen ones are funny and clear, but the binder ones are more likely to drive consumers away from the product (and potentially away from Amazon to Staples or another competitor). They are funny and clever review bombings for sure, but the real question is, will they be funny in six months? If the answer is no, then I think Amazon will have no choice but to trim or remove the reviews.

If Avery debuts a “binder for her” though, then all bets are off!!!

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