Don't Ask Jeeves
Warning: Mini-rant coming!
I saw another one of the new Ask Jeeves TV ads last night. This one features a harried mother carrying a child as she wades into a wetland toward a bearded, bespectacled older man who is covered in cattail leaves and is wearing an Elmer Fudd hat with a mallard decoy on top of it. The woman says: "I need a recipe for lasagna." The man looks at her, then squats down in the cattails and blows a duck call. A voiceover says: "Don't ask a bird watcher for a recipe. Ask Jeeves."
Didn't anyone tell the Ask Jeeves marketing people that bird watchers do not fit the oddball, absent-minded professor stereotype anymore? This is far worse than the Folger's commercial of the 1980s where a couple, totally outfitted in safari gear, tiptoe deep into the woods where the woman whispers breathlessly to her husband: "There it IS honey! The red-winged blackbird! Now let's go have some crappy instant coffee!"
I thought we'd buried that Miss Jane Hathaway image of bird watchers long ago. I guess no one told the folks at Ask Jeeves. Perhaps they had no place reliable where they could get an answer to the question: What is today's bird watcher like? Or is it offensive, even slightly, to make fun of people pursuing a certain hobby?
Well they could have asked me or any one of the million or so other avid birder/bird watchers in North America. Call me hyper-sensitive, but birding is both my hobby and my profession and I've been a bird watcher for 35 years. I remember when bird watching was socially unacceptable and embarrassing. It's a huge relief not to have that stigma about our favorite activity.
I know one thing. The only question I'll be Asking Jeeves anytime soon is this:
Excuse me, Jeeves! Could you please shut up?