Like a mayfly

Today’s Bizarro:


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Appropriately for May Day, this strip is ephemeral: this month, if you keep up with popular culture, it’s wryly funny, but a year from now, almost no one will understand it. (Yes, I’m going to explain it.)

But first, from NOAD2:

noun ephemeron: an insect that lives only for a day or a few days. ORIGIN from Greek, neuter of ephēmeros  ‘lasting only a day.’

noun ephemera: things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time;items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity: Mickey Mouse ephemera. ORIGIN late 16th century: plural of ephemeron. Current use has been influenced by plurals such as trivia and memorabilia.

adj. ephemeral: lasting for a very short time: fashions are ephemeral.

Then, on the mayfly, from Wikipedia:


Mayflies (also known as shadflies or fishflies in Canada) are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemeroptera. This order is part of an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies. Over 3,000 species of mayfly are known worldwide, grouped into over 400 genera in 42 families.

Mayflies are relatively primitive insects and exhibit a number of ancestral traits that were probably present in the first flying insects, such as long tails and wings that do not fold flat over the abdomen. Their immature stages are aquatic fresh water forms (called “naiads” or “nymphs”), whose presence indicates a clean, unpolluted environment.

… Mayflies “hatch” (emerge as adults) from spring to autumn, not necessarily in May, in enormous numbers. Some hatches attract tourists. Fly fishermen make use of mayfly hatches by choosing artificial fishing flies that resemble the species in question.

… The brief lives of mayfly adults have been noted by naturalists and encyclopaedists since Aristotle and Pliny the Elder in classical times. The German engraver Albrecht Dürer included a mayfly in his 1495 engraving The Holy Family with the Mayfly to suggest a link between heaven and earth. The English poet George Crabbe compared the brief life of a daily newspaper with that of a mayfly in the satirical poem “The Newspaper” (1785), both being known as “ephemera”.

And, finally, on Pepsi. From the NPR site, “After Uproar, Pepsi Halts Rollout Of Controversial Protest-Themed Ad”, on Morning Edition on April 5th, by Laurel Wamsley:

It was about unity, Pepsi explained. But the company’s new ad, set at a protest march, was quickly called out for being tone-deaf, offensive, and perhaps worst of all for the brand: not “woke.”

The ad, which stars model and Kardashian sister Kendall Jenner, had been slated for a worldwide release. But Pepsi announced today that it would halt any further rollout of the ad. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said in a statement received by the Associated Press. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”

The company removed the ad from its YouTube channel on Wednesday afternoon, where it had garnered at least 1.3 million views in two days.

[You can view the ad here, on the Slate site. The Slate posting also has a snarky critique of the ad.]

The ad features a diverse cadre of young, happy protesters holding signs splashed with calls for peace, love, and in one odd instance, to “Join the conversation.”

In the ad’s key scene, Jenner hands a can of ice-cold Pepsi to a police officer, who accepts it and takes a sip, to raucous cheers from protesters.


But on the Internet, the reaction was fierce. Many saw the ad’s climactic hand-a-cop-a-Pepsi moment as referencing – and exploiting – an important image from the Black Lives Matter movement — when a woman calmly, summer dress fluttering, stood before heavily equipped police in Baton Rouge, La.


In general, Pepsi was accused of trying to sell soda using the setting and symbolism of recent protests, such as those against police brutality.

AdAge reports that the spot was created by Pepsi’s in-house creative team, Creators League.

The company initially stood behind the ad. Earlier, Pepsi told Adweek in a statement: “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”

The soda company may not be the last brand to try to invoke the protests and “resistance” ethos that are hallmarks of this political moment. But this ad may be one textbook example of what not to do.

… which brings us back to the Bizarro strip, in which the protest seems to be profoundly trivial, and you need a permit to protest without Pepsis for the cops. A fairly gentle swipe at the Pepsi ad.

But the ad’s been withdrawn, and the furor over it will almost surely be ephemeral. So the strip is funny at the moment (if you know about the ad) but will soon become incomprehensible.

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