I haven’t seen it for a while, so it may be gone — to which I say, “Good riddance!”
It’s the TV commercial for Kleenex, in which viewers (and various apparently willing participants in said commercial) are urged to “let it out” — their feelings, that is — to a “good listener” who has carted a blue couch and a box of Kleenex around the U.S. (to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville and Las Vegas — even Salt Lake City!) to get people to release their bottled-up sadness and snuffle into a Kleenex.
They’ve even trademarked the phrase “let it out.”
You can read all about it at the Let It Out Web site.
I probably wouldn’t have noticed the commercial, except for two things:
1. I’m disinclined to sit on an upholstered couch outdoors, even if it’s covered in 12 layers of Kleenex.
2. I’m not sure it’s always appropriate to offer someone a Kleenex when they’re teary.
I wrote an article about this for my day job, citing a passage from a novel I’d read. I wrote thusly:
“In Internal Affairs, a novel by the late British journalist Jill Tweedie, a client begins to cry during a session with Charlotte, a family planning counsellor.
“Charlotte, Tweedie wrote, ‘suppressed the usual urge to offer the box of tissues.’
“Sounds almost cruel, doesn’t it? This is a work of fiction, but let’s hear Charlotte/Tweedie out: ‘At her two weeks of training in counselling techniques the teacher had dwelt at some length on the dynamics of the tissue box, emphasizing that to give tissues to distressed clients amounted to an unspoken command from the counsellor to cease crying and would be interpreted by said client to mean that tears were unacceptable, that emotion itself was unacceptable.’ “
I then consulted various experts on empathic etiquette and the “dynamics of the tissue box.”
The corker is, when I approached Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kleenex, for a comment, their spokeswoman declined!
I shit you not!
Of course, I wrote this piece back in the Dark Ages – in April of 2000, to be precise – so either Kimberly-Clark has come around to having a position or it’s just found another way to flog Kleenex.