Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 02, 2008

there IS a downside to illiteracy!

This just in, news that a British retail chain was forced to remove a product from their shelves because the name they used, the "Lolita" bed for six year old girls, didn't seem quite proper. No one seemed to notice when they introduced the product until some random (and obviously "bookish") Mom pointed it out on a website for mom's.

From the Reuters article:

Shop pulls "Lolita" bed for young girls

In "Lolita," a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the narrator becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter -- but Woolworths staff had not heard of the classic novel or two subsequent films based on it.

Hence they saw nothing wrong with advertising the Lolita Midsleeper Combi, a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard intended for girls aged about six until a concerned mother raised the alarm on a parenting website.

Neither the website (the one where they were selling the bed), nor the store (Woolworths) had heard of the book, but based on the buzz created by the picky bookworm Mom, inquiries were made, Wikipedia consulted, and action taken. The product is no longer available. Apparently the store is now looking into the vendors, to see what they knew. I predict they'll find no one who's read the book. New packaging will likely call it "Shirley," or "Princess," or something equally innocuous.

The crux of the situation, then, is that no one in the product chain understood the reference to Nabokov's immortal character from the book by the same name. No one in the store's merchandising hierarchy, or the website's hierarchy, or the vendor's organization had ever read the book, or couldn't take responsibility to say the product name could be less than apt. This is a sad but predictable state of affairs. I seriously doubt whether ameliorative measures to correct the general trend toward illiteracy of the public will have any effect. It's just too late. *sigh* And here, I thought the British were better than Americans that way. On second thought, I guess I still believe that. Oy.