Posted by: Hannah | 04/11/2012

the internet is weird, or how i made a celebrity mad

When I was a preteen, the only time I could watch cable was at my grandmother’s house. And the only channel I ever wanted to watch – to her chagrin and bafflement, no doubt – was Much Music.

Much Music was Canada’s answer to MTV. Heavy on Can-Con, with the kind of rousing production values one would expect from Canadian television in the 1980s, it was a sparkling leather-clad glimpse into another world, and I was both fascinated and intimidated by it, convinced that such riches as knee-high stiletto boots and purple spiky hair would never be mine.

The face of Much Music for many of those early years looked like this:

source: fashionforward40.com

See that pretty lady in all those pictures with ridiculously young stars (check out Bono!)? That’s Erica Ehm. She was a star. For reals, which was a difficult thing to claim for a Canadian cable TV host. She was glamorous. She was smart. She had that awesome hair. And day after day she sat down with musicians, bigger and bigger names as the years went by, and I wanted her life. She was one of the influences I cited in my application to the journalism school. I kind of idolized her, and when she left Much Music I was sad, and never really felt quite the same way about it again.

***

Fast forward to 2012. We’ve all gotten older. Much Music is still around, although it almost never plays videos anymore, and the hosts are so impossibly young & fresh-faced that it makes me feel like a senior citizen to watch it for more than five minutes. “It just sounds like noise!” I’ll wail, half angry at myself for honestly hating 99% of what I see & hear, and then I grab my walker and stomp off for a nice relaxing glass of Ovaltine because these kids today, what the fuck, Much Music used to be about the MUSIC, man!  (As if you could ever say that Electric Circus was about the music).

Twitter has happened, and I am a slightly-embarrassed starfucker, to use that delightful turn of phrase from Judith Krantz. I do follow celebrities, when I find them. I unfollow them just as quickly if it’s obvious that a low-paid PR hack is writing all of their tweets, but I do try. Secretly (not a secret anymore!) I want one of them to reply to me. Not because I write something like “Hey, John Cusack, it’s my birthday, can I get an RT?!!!??” but because one of them reads something I write, and feels compelled to answer.

So when Erica Ehm not only got a Twitter account but a whole entire website too, I followed it right away. Because it’s Erica Ehm, holy shit.

Last night, when the last kid was finally put to bed and the birthday dinner mess was cleaned up, I was idly browsing through Twitter when she posted a tweet that read: “Pick your battles. How I get my picky daughter to drink milk and eat fruit. Would you do this?: with a link to this blog post entitled “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Drink Her Milk”. For those of you who don’t have time to click the link, it features a picture of Erica’s (?) daughter, smiling next to a giant bottle of Nesquik chocolate syrup. And the post is “proudly sponsored by our friends at Nesquik”. In brief, the article explains that Erica’s daughter is super-picky, and in order to get fruit and milk protein into her, Erica puts chocolate syrup on EVERYTHING. (But it’s the stuff with 25% less sugar, so yay!)

I assumed the whole ridiculous post was written because Nesquik offered sponsorship dollars – and I get it, that’s how blogs make money. Sponsored content is huge right now. Myself, I detest it – nothing gets me to leave a blog post quicker than “my friends at [insert corporate giant here] sent me assloads of free stuff! Here’s how my family incorporated laundry detergent into our trip to the park this week OMG SQUEE CLEANPANTS!!” The whole post – and the tweet that sent me to it, blindly – irritated me.

And so I replied, in answer to her question, “I get that this is sponsored content, but dumping chocolate syrup into / on everything? no way.”

I expected to hear nothing back. Why would I? I only responded in the first place because I felt snowed; because Erica Ehm, my erstwhile idol, had tricked me into clicking on a goddamned chocolate syrup ad.

But then! But then she DID respond, and oh guys, she thinks I’m the most judgmental mom in Canada right now, because here’s what she replied:

“Nothing to do with being sponsored. Its’ what I’ve been doing way before this post!!”

And yes friends, those are two exclamation marks. Two exclamation marks from Erica Ehm, who now thinks I’m criticizing her for getting her daughter to eat by coating everything in chocolate syrup.

(And you know what, I am judging, because I’ve got some pretty definite Opinions about healthy eating and how to make it a lifelong habit for children. I usually keep them to myself unless asked, but let’s just say that while my kids do not lack for occasional wild indulgences, there is no universe in which artificial chocolate syrup, even the lower-sugar kind, constitutes part of a healthy diet.)

However, that’s neither here nor there, really. I did reply with “I stand corrected. the post just sounded kind of “Nesquik sponsored us so chocolate syrup on everything is good!” And she did come back with a thanks and a smiley face, so I guess we’re good? I hope?

And so, my childhood journalistic idol isn’t a sellout to corporate interests – yay! – but she does feed her child in a way that I find troubling, being married to a diabetic. She also, I discovered in researching images for this article, has written two stage plays starring Caillou, the single most annoying children’s character in the history of ever. He’s banned in my house and has been for years. Just like chocolate syrup.

I finally got my Twitter interaction with a real live celebrity, but it wasn’t at all what I hoped.

And that’s why I say, the internet is weird.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Good for you for calling her on that. I’m still not convinced that she’s not a sell-out!

    • I guess the answer is to stop reading her site. I mean, I don’t often find writing there that I enjoy, and there is a whack of sponsored and self-promoting content on there, for sure. It’s just hard for me to let go of Erica. 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you wrote this post. Her response was essentially “this post is sponsored by Nesquik, but I dose my child with sugar for my own convenience, NOT for money.” That’s hardly a high-minded or convincing defence.

    There are two blogging trends that annoy me:
    1. sponsored content on blogs: “monetizing your blog” is just code for bloggers selling a corporation access to their readership (ie ME) via advertorials. No thanks.
    2. community sites where the site’s owner collects ad revenue but doesn’t share the profits with the authors of the site’s content.

    For these reasons I don’t visit Mummy Yummy very often. Maybe I’d find it more palatable if it was covered in sugary, brown syrup?

    (Answer: NO.)

    • Nan: But EVERYTHING is more delicious when covered with sugary brown syrup! Even fruit. Which is already delicious on its own but HEY MOAR DELICIOUS GET IN MAH FACE-HOLE.

      Kate: Hello! Yes, I have this issue? concern? with one of my dayhome clients. Her daughter Pixie ‘won’t’ each fresh fruit, so she is sent every day with those horrible Gerber fruit twists… but she’ll eat fresh fruit here, with every evidence of enjoyment. Unless she’s spotted the fruit twist, and then she won’t eat ANYTHING but that. Kids are smart. Give them the tools to manipulate you, and they will.

      Nicole: My kids get junk-food indulgences, too. Total deprivation is no way to live. My concern with some parents who think things like Nesquik, Nutella, the aforementioned Gerber fruit gums etc etc are healthy because those companies are telling them so – and they use them as staple items. Too much sugar changes a person’s sense of taste – just ask my husband – to the point where they won’t eat anything unless it’s very very sweet. I guess that’s the part of the article I found baffling – you really need to pour chocolate syrup over french toast that’s covered in fruit because otherwise the kid won’t eat it? Damn. That’s intense.

      ***

      Seriously though, my annoyance with this whole thing had more to do with the sponsored content than anything else. I’d have been just as aggravated if the post had *not* been about chocolate syrup. Some folks on Twitter have since pointed out some excellent reasons to go the flavoured milk route as part of an otherwise healthy diet, and that’s fine – I’m not a nutritionist, and I know that my friends who feed their kids, for example, vegetarian diets would probably be horrified at the amount of meat we go through here. So to reiterate and perhaps clarify my two-fold point: the original tweet asked “would you (meaning me personally) serve up chocolate syrup every single meal to bribe a picky kid?” and my answer was “no”. Also, I was questioning the veracity of Erica Ehm’s claims that she did so in real life because it was a post sponsored by a company that manufactures chocolate syrup. Getting the defensive snap-back was frankly completely unexpected – and it didn’t answer my concern about sponsored content at all, but just assumed I was being Judge McMeanypants because her kid eats lots of the stuff.

  3. OMG! Good for you! I had a parent tell me that their child would only eat chicken nuggets for lunch and implied that I should offer him that so he would eat. Um no. Actually, hell no. I honestly think people tell others things like that in hopes it will be all sunshine and rainbows and are shocked when it’s not. Oh well.

  4. Full disclosure: every lunch, I give my kids a small glass of strawberry or chocolate milk.

    But – our meals are almost all homemade, healthy, and full of fruits and veggies. Sure, I let them go hog wild on their Easter chocolate and Halloween candy, but my kids eat healthy, balanced meals on the whole.

    I know this isn’t about food, really, it’s about sponsored content. I very much dislike sponsored content. It is so ubiquitous these days and it feels ugly. I solve this problem by never reading them.

  5. The first time Nicole asked her readers to comment on her blog post for the YMC, I said “I hate the Yummy Mummy Club, but I will do it for you”. Just to be equal-opportunity offensive, I also gave my son chocolate milk at every supper for a long time (I feel compelled to say ‘not bought chocolate milk, but white milk with a little chocolate syrup in it’) and I would like to say I feel totally justified in doing that, but I feel slightly judged by you right now because of it, so maybe I don’t. Sometimes I do find you a little judgmental about how other parents feed their kids, but at least I know your opinions are your own and not sponsored by anyone. Also, I think I might be about to slide into a very dark pit of despair, and yet I’m tripping gaily around the internet leaving borderline-offensive comments because, I don’t know, I don’t hate myself quite enough, so let me just apologize for that right now.

    • Alison, I honestly do apologize for ever making you feel badly, I certainly didn’t intend to. When I do blog about food – which admittedly, I do sometimes – it is in the context of my experiences in the dayhome. And for very young kids, too much sugar and processed food has a noticeable impact on them; on their moods, behaviours, diapers (I know, but yerk) – again, I’m not a nutritionist nor do I claim to be, but I certainly do see a difference in the health of the kids on more balanced diets vs. the kids who get Lucky Charms for breakfast every day.

      And I can be a terribly judgmental person, which is frankly why I included the paragraph about being shocked about All The Syrups. I didn’t want to be dishonest and act like it never crossed my mind to think ‘holy shit, that’s some lot of sugar she’s getting if she really is eating it with every meal’ – but really, my issue was with the sponsored content I clicked through to based on a tweet asking about how to feed picky children. I have picky children in the dayhome! I was hoping for tips! Not an ad for Nesquik.

      I think the food issue is detracting from the real question I have, which is why on earth YummyMummy seems to be successful even though a staggering amount of their ‘content’ is actually ads. I maybe shouldn’t have gone into the food angle at all, but I did. Please believe me when I say it wasn’t my intention to offend anyone, but I clearly have, and for that I am sorry.

  6. Your criticism of the YMC is entirely justified, and I can completely understand how looking after other people’s kids and having that affected by what they feed them gives you the right to have opinions. I mean, you have the right to have opinions anyway. Agh. I try to feed my kids healthy, homemade stuff the vast majority of the time, and honestly, I don’t think I have kids that react to small amounts of additives or processed foods the way some kids do, so that makes a difference too. And I get that tossing off a phrase like ‘dumping syrup all over everything’ is sometimes just that – tossing off a phrase. And that your husband is a diabetic. And that not all of your readers are hysterical oversensitive insomniacs. So really, it’s very kind of you not to just tell me to piss off. xoxo

    • Re: “Dumping syrup all over everything”: Hyperbole is my biggest character flaw. After being judgmental. And assuming everyone hates me. 😉 xoxo

  7. I forgot my piece on the sponsered comments – I find it so annoying when a blog I’ve been reading for a while totally goes the way of sponsers. All the sudden everything is cleaned up (what happend to the F word?!) and then there is the obvious mention of product even when it’s nonsensical (“Do you hate Herpes? Eat Oscar Meyer hot dogs!”) Leaving you wondering what the hell just happened. Sigh.

    • “Do you hate herpes? Eat Oscar Meyer hot dogs!” made me guffaw right out loud. Exactly my point.

  8. I was trying desperately to catch up on the blog, after allt he Twitter mentions, but my 5yo kept begging me to interact with him. So I gave him a cookie to shut him up so I could finish reading.

    🙂

    • Best. Comment. Ever.

  9. I bought a bottle of Nesquik a while back for a treat and was stunned that they load it up with vitamins and minerals and then give you *dosage* information, as though you might use it as a source of vitamins? But then, I don’t sweat my kids’ milk consumption and figure they are getting their protein, calcium, etc in other ways. I am not a huge fan of straight up white milk either, so I encourage the consumption of cheese. My kid who doesn’t eat cheese will drink milk for hours if you give him a straw.

    Vegetables, on the other hand. Don’t get me started.

    Um, wait, but this was about you! Honestly to me, it didn’t sound like EE was that mad. She was just responding, defending herself. I doubt it’s the worst thing anyone has said about her. And I think the smiley definitely makes it all better. 🙂 See? 🙂

    • Dosage information? Wow. The more you know, I guess. The funny thing was, I wasn’t even looking for EE to defend her feeding choices (her kid, right?) I *was* looking for a comment on the sponsored content thing. But I guess I wasn’t clear enough about that. And you’re right, smileys make everything better. 🙂

  10. I think we’re all missing a key point here, which is that Nesquik is GROSS.

    • Even as a kid I didn’t like it much. But then I think Nutella is gross, too. Maybe I’m just weird.

  11. Hi! I thought you might like to know that I just checked out the blog post in question, and your comment was nowhere to be found. I may have missed it, so before I accuse Ms. Ehm of anything other than being a corporate shrill for the Nestle Corporation, you should probably see for yourself.

    Honestly, I never rated Erica Ehm as a VJ. Whenever she interviewed a musician or band I liked, she invariably seemed to know next to nothing about their music. I also hated the way she always mispronounced “Nirvana”. However, if there is anyone who seemed cool during our teenage years worth loathing, it’s Denis Leary: turns out that he stole some of his best material (including the Jim Fixx bit) from Bill Hicks. See YouTube for more info.

    • Gak! Denis Leary? I’d say I’m shocked except for all the goddamn Ford commercials he’s been doing… it’s so much like the Simpsons episode where Krusty starts shilling for the Canyonero that I’d almost think it was ironic.

      My exchange with EE took place solely on Twitter. I didn’t want to bother commenting on the blog post itself because I figured I’d be setting myself up for trolling. 😦

  12. Shill shrill shit! (try saying THAT five times fast) 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: