In ten days, on July 27, a dozen 7-Eleven stores will turn into Kwik-E Marts. The remaining 6400 stores will carry Homer dolls, Krustyo’s cereal, Buzz Cola, Squishees, and pink-frosted Sprinklicious donuts. The Simpsons are coming to visit.
For me, the joke stops here. I used a 7-Eleven when living in Boston. It was a shrine to processed food, bad service, aesthetics without mercy, design without shame. The overlit vacancy of the place gave everything a vaguely radioactive quality.
Some "light at night" is wonderful. (Remember how you used to feel about when you were coming home with your parents as lights came on. Safety. Comfort. Joy.) But light at night can also be terrible in its vacuity. Surely, one couldn’t help wondering late at night in Boston, 7-Eleven is the place that souls come to die. (One of the interesting thing about Hopper’s famous painting of an all-night diner [above] is that we can’t tell which light applies.)
7-Eleven was the only game in town, so we put up with it. But it felt like a place that had managed to capture all that was wrong with the American approach to food, brands and retail. And when you think about it, this can’t have been easy. I mean, how do you get something this wrong this often? Somebody had to work at it. Practice the art. Perfect the formula. There, it’s ruined. Hi-5, everyone, hi-5!
Yes, it’s very Homer, when you think about it. Only he could have screwed a corner store up this completely. But what happens when he comes to visit on July 27th?
Maybe Homer will fit right in at 7-Eleven. But if there is a place that can take the joyful stupidity out of Mr. Simpson, it’s this. Because, you see, bone-headed stupidity trumps joyful stupidity every time.
Maybe Marge and the kids and the spirit of The Simpsons will flourish here. But if there’s a place that can puncture irreverence and irony, it’s a 7-Eleven. You see, places that are aggressively irony-free have a way of prevailing over every other form of human wit and creativity.
That’s the 7-Eleven promise to you.
What I mean is this. 7-Eleven is such a disastrous brand and retail proposition that there’s no way it can save itself with a Simpsons endorsement. Now, if meanings are going to move here, they can only go the other way: from 7-Eleven to The Simpsons.
And how sad is that? One of the most effective enemies of numb skull capitalism will have been damaged by one of the great accomplishments of numb skull capitalism. D’oh!
Schiller, Gail. 2007. Discrmininating? D’oh! Only 4 ‘Simpsons’ tie-in partners. The Hollywood Reporter East. July 6, 2007, pp. 1-2, p. 2.