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Friday, November 28, 2008

Why James T. Kirk Would Hate the GEICO Gecko

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2008 at 2:53 PM

And Why We Should Have the Captain's Back

By Peter Jamison

Help me out here, Constant Snitch Reader: Am I going crazy, or is the GEICO gecko taking over San Francisco? Everywhere I look these days, it seems as though there's an upright tropical lizard trying to sell me insurance. He's there at the corner of 3rd and Harrison as I drive into the city and at the Civic Center station when I board the BART in the morning.

GEICO's press office didn't get back to me, so I can't say with certainty whether the gecko's omnipresent appeals are the result of a concerted marketing blitz. And I admit I've always been a little queasy with the use of spokescreatures: Is it wrong to wonder where the hell Madison Avenue got the idea that customers are more likely to trust a spider or an obnoxious duck than some run-of-the-mill suit?

Plus there's this: That gecko just creeps the shit out of me. When I stare into his viscous black eyeballs, I get the feeling he'd rather rip my throat out with his stubby fingers than insure my automobile. The lizard evokes that sensation which Freud called the uncanny: A vague terror resulting from the coupling of weirdness and familiarity.

At first, I had tough time laying my finger on exactly what was familiar about this lithe green salesman. Then it dawned on me: The GEICO gecko is, in fact, an obvious descendant of the Gorn, the race of reptilian extraterrestrials that had a troubled relationship with the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek. (Captain James T. Kirk had his own run-in with a Gorn in the episode "Arena.")

What say you? Is the gecko out of control, or am I just imagining things? Is it time to bring the crew of the Enterprise back to San Francisco for some derring-do? At least Mr. Spock already knows his way around Muni.

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Peter Jamison


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