Snuggie, the blanket with sociocultural subtext

Amanda at Pandagon posted an amusing rant about the Snuggie, and its appeal to lazy people who have no taste.

Perhaps it’s the sense that you can have a Snuggie or a sex life, but you can’t have both.  Or maybe it’s just the general lack of dignity inherent to the item.  Given the choice between having a dignified countenance and exposing a small amount of flesh to the air for a moment while you change the channel, the former is going to go every time for a large chunk of my fellow citizens.  If you own a Snuggie, the odds that you wear a fanny pack strike me as extremely high.  It conjures up the depressing image of someone sitting on their couch, remote in hand, flipping back and forth between a rerun of “Friends” and Rachel Ray’s show.

An astonishing 350 comments ensued, either to praise or bury the Snuggie, and many of them accusing Amanda’s rant of being anti-poor, anti-feminist, anti-cold climates and anti-people looking like tools if they damn well want to.

If you don’t own a television, and thus haven’t been subjected to the commercial for it every ten minutes or so since before Thanksgiving, the Snuggie is a blanket…with sleeves! While the ad pushes it as the most innovative invention since the salad spinner, it’s nothing more than a fleece choir robe.  Like pretty much everything else that is advertised as “not sold in stores,” there is no reason for this product to exist.  Any purpose it serves could be duplicated by something you already have in your home, such as a sweater or an extra pair of socks.  It is a ridiculous object that makes people look ridiculous while wearing it, despite the fact that it may keep them warm.

Amanda may occasionally represent the worst qualities of white, liberal, privileged snobbery, but the defensiveness her post caused is baffling.  It’s a bit of a reach to say the least that by criticizing the Snuggie she’s also criticizing poor people who have no other way of keeping warm.  Snuggies aren’t being bought by poor people, they’re being bought by people who get suckered into believing they’re a more convenient alternative to a blanket.  The commercial speaks for itself: it essentially says that using a blanket is difficult, particularly when it comes to the complicated task of answering a telephone.  The look of distraught frustration on the actress’s face suggests that she’s trying to extricate herself from a straightjacket, while hanging upside down and surrounded by starving pit bulls.

Most products of this ilk are marketed in such a manner, on the notion that simple household chores are really much more complex than we realize, thank goodness now there’s something to make it so much easier.  The Big City Slider Station, shilled by Billy Mays, who shouts everything at a volume level that makes me wonder if he used to be a roadie for Iron Maiden at some point, is a mold/cooker specifically designed for miniature hamburger patties.  The difficulty in cooking hamburgers the old-fashioned way is demonstrated by someone actually flipping a patty right out of the pan and onto the stove, like something you’d see in a sketch on I Love Lucy.  Even better than that is the commercial for Pasta ‘n’ More, a microwave pasta cooker.  In the “before” scene, a woman is shown hobbling laboriously to a counter carrying what appears to be the entire contents of a kitchen drawer.  These are supposedly all the tools necessary to boil spaghetti in a pot, when really I can only think of four right off the top of my head, and that’s counting water.  She’s later shown burning herself while testing the spaghetti for doneness, something she wouldn’t need to worry about if she had the Pasta ‘n’ More.  But this is the thing: she didn’t burn herself because cooking spaghetti on a stove is hard, it’s because she touched something that just came out of boiling hot water.  This, like the Snuggie, is a product for people who couldn’t possibly be as incompetent as its commercials make them seem.

I suppose if I understood what would compel someone to buy an item of clothing that makes them look like Obi-Wan Kenobi, and not for the purposes of wearing it to a sci-fi convention, I’d probably be in the advertising business instead of doing this for free.  You can bet that a goodly amount of Snuggie purchases, possibly as many as half, are for the kitschy, pop culture value of it, either given as gag gifts or so you can prominently display one in your home, just for the opportunity to have a guest point at it and say “Oh my God, is that a Snuggie? How droll!” I know that of which I speak, having owned several items, including a velvet Elvis painting, a Dukes of Hazzard board game and a set of highball glasses with artwork inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ on them, that served no other purpose but to show how hip and ironic I am.

The other half of the purchases, I really don’t know, and the fact that people do buy them does not negate the fact that they are ridiculous, or above criticism.  If the fact that a lot of people put money towards something automatically renders it “good,” Nickelback would be as big as the Beatles and Paul Blart, Mall Cop would be the movie to beat at next year’s Academy Awards.  I reiterate, Snuggies aren’t meant for poor people as an alternative to insurmountable heating bills.  The commercial doesn’t suggest that in any way, being that it shows Snuggie users doing stuff like working on laptops and going to football games, neither of which poor people get to do terribly often.  It’s for middle class people who are still lucky enough to have money burning holes in their pockets and who still get convinced by the man in the magic box that they can’t live without certain items, such as a blanket with sleeves, or a microwave hot dog that already comes packaged in a bun, so you can save yourself the ten seconds or so it would take to put it in a bun yourself.  If that’s not worthy of a little derision, then I don’t know what is.

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6 Responses to “Snuggie, the blanket with sociocultural subtext”

  1. priskiller Says:

    Ooh, Dukes had a board game??

    I felt a little miffed by your Amanda comment. I know you care.

  2. Priskiller: I admire Amanda’s tenacity in sticking to her principles, no matter how much shit she gets for them, but she does occasionally irritate me. I guess that means she’s doing a good job. I don’t think I could ever be as big as she is, I’d have to throw my computer out the window after a while.

  3. You know… I’m not just cold, I’m disabled. It can be physically difficult for me to get to the bathroom some days. The funny thing is?

    … I have no desire for a snuggie. I have this thing called a blanket, and it works really, really well. I can cover my feet, or leave them out. I can even wear a sleeved shirt if I want to! How CRAZY is that?

  4. I can honestly say I don’t care one way or the other for this thing. Why? Because I have a similar blanket. It is called a huddle wrap and has snaps making it appear to have sleeves. Yeah, I know I look like a tool but dammit I love it. And at any point it can be worn around my apartment or undone and used as a blanket.

    So in regards to the Snuggie, like every other info-mercial gadget and item, its been invented already and in better ways. The Snuggie is terrible looking and clearly has sleeves that are far too long for even a normal adult. It is a complete design fail. The end.

    But as for Amanda’s rant, it was just a tad off the wall but the comments took the cake. I laughed the whole time. Mostly because, yes this thing is dumb, but I don’t see people all up in arms about those scissors that cut through pennies.

  5. i’m torn between the Snuggie and the Shamwow

  6. Coffee- what if you made a Snuggie from a Shamwow? I think the world might spontaneously wink out in a moment of super-something. I’m not sure super-what, exactly… but it sure would be something…

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