Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keeping It Real

Posted by Deirdre Oakley, GDANSK, POLAND – Bill boards are meant to grab the attention of large, locally-based consumer audiences and the three gregarious, middle-aged, swimsuit-clad gentlemen pictured in this downtown Gdansk one certainly do. They are selling klopsiki…meatballs. According to the tag line, meatballs are an invigorating summertime meal. To be honest the bill board didn’t really entice me to run out and buy some Pamapol Klopsiki. But the three Klopsy (Meat Balls) in the picture stopped me in my tracks, put a big laughing smile on my face, and moved me to take a photograph. It also made me wonder why bill boards in the United States are rarely so tongue in cheek, and include such likeable every day characters as the Klopsy. In America, if it's not an ambulance-chasing law or insurance firm that coughs up enough money to purchase bill board space, the most likely bill board candidates are big corporatation-sponsored young, thin, attractive -- airbrushed -- people with nice hair, prominent cheekbones, wide mouths, and very straight white teeth. But characters like the Klopsy are much more interesting because they are real – not formulaic or vapid. And images of real people convey more authentic stories of social life that we can all identify with one way of another. So if that ever youthful, ‘perfect-looking’ Calvin Klein underwear model featured on the Times Square bill board since the 1980s was on this one, seductively holding a jar of Klopsiki against his tanned and rippled abs, I probably wouldn’t have even stopped to look.

Deirdre Oakley is an Associate professor of Sociology at Georgia State University and the Editor of Social Shutter. You can contact her at To view more photographs from Gdansk log on to our Facebook page.

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