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Subliminal Smokes (Part 1)

September 17, 2000

In the spirit of the Wilson Bryan Key books, "Subliminal Seduction", "Media Sexploitation", "The Clam Plate Orgy", and "The Age of Manipulation", I present the first installment of my subliminal advertising expose.

In this section, we'll review an ad that appeared in, among others, DETAILS magazine, for the KOOL brand of menthol cigarettes.  Study the ad below and ask yourself what's going on in it.

In the picture are three people in two adjacent cars.  Perhaps you concluded that since the male driver of the car with the female passenger is gazing out the driver's side window of his small car, that they are stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.   At a conscious level, you might also suggest that the female passenger of the small car is gazing over at the male driving the luxury car (note the "power everything" on the Kool smoker's car)with a look of some sort of interest.  Perhaps she is smiling because she's curious of what's going on in our Kool friend's mind...or did our Kool friend just witness a little "exchange" between the two in the sports car?

Take a look at the protruding leg in the sports car.  Is it his or hers?  Sure, they could both be wearing jeans, but since other parts of his similarly coloured jeans are visible, we are more likely to assume they are his jeans, meaning that his legs are sort of spread, and either his car is very small, or his foot is not on the brake pedal!!!

That's right, his foot is NOT on the brake pedal, because he just got a blow job from his female passenger!  There he is, in stereotypical male fashion, taking place in a post-orgasmic ignoring session, instead looking to his left at... the subliminal smoking skull!!!  See it?  The enlargement to your left is a blow-up of the area of the "photo" that the sports car driver is fixated on.  Closer observation reveals that an anamorphic skull can be observed, and that skull appears to be smoking a cigarette, as indicated by the straight line protruding from its mouth and the curl of smoke above it.

For those of you not familiar with Wilson Bryan Key's work, he has pointed out on many occasions that things that are used as subliminals are not always logical on the conscious level.

A skull smoking a cigarette is one of those items.  Sure, it makes sense, since it is no secret as to how unhealthy smoking is, but how is reminding a smoker of the dangers of tobacco use at a subliminal level going to help sell more KOOL cigarettes?

By leaving an impact at the subliminal level from getting your attention with both sexual AND death-oriented taboos, that's how!

Is that it?  Am I a nut like Wilson Bryan Key?  Am I going to find more hidden images in this picture, or what?

You bet!  Why stop there when the driver of the sports car is thinking of a more juicy future than a smoking skull.  To examine this possibility, let's first look at the possible relationships going on in the picture.  We are assuming that the two in the sports car are a "couple" - after all, she does have her arm rested on his leg...and she DID just blow him, right?  We are also assuming that the male (or driver with very male-looking hands) in the luxury car is by himself in the car, since he is smoking (and hopefully not subjecting a family of passengers to a car-full of second-hand menthol smoke).

Unfortunately, we can't tell whether the luxury car driver is married - his ring finger is hidden from our view.  However, the female passenger with the sinister smile can see his ring finger.  She knows more than us, yet continues to smile with that devious grin and raised eyebrow, as if proposing something to the luxury car driver with her look.

Maybe our friend in the luxury car IS married.  After all, there are two sets of power window switches, indicating that he is driving a 4-door car.  Being the owner of two 4-door cars myself, I know that this guy must have a family (possibly a baby to get into the back seat), or he would be driving a sportier 2-door car!

Even though everyone and their grandmother sports some sort of a tattoo these days, Madison Avenue would still like you to equate them with wild, free-spirited individuals.  Hence, our female subject has a tat on her forearm.  Sure, it's a cheesy design that she probably had done at a fair, but it's a tattoo nonetheless!  She's a wild one, and is willing to do such "wild things" as have a go at a married man who pulls up next to her. 

What kind of a "relationship" is she thinking about?  She's probably thinking about a 1-on-1 with Mr. Sedan, as implied by the two flowers on her tattoo.  Her body language suggests, "never mind him, how about us?" as she keeps her arm on his leg while maintaining an obvious glance into the other car.   As for the driver of the sports car, it's not as though he'd notice her gaze anyway - he's busy staring off into space at that skull...or is it a skull?

Not only is the image a skull, it is something much more than that when turned sideways.  As indicated by my crude stick-figure outlining in the second of the two images, it becomes (painfully) obvious that our sports car driver is aware of his passenger's cheating mind, and would like to use that to help him fulfill his stereotypical male fantasy of three-way sex.

Just look at the classic "double penetration" pose that our stick-figure friends are posed in!  Wow!  That's some ad campaign for menthol cigarettes.

 Remember, however, that subliminal messages simply do not exist.  They are the figments of the imaginations of warped minds like Wilson Bryan Key's, the subject of fanaticism and media paranoia.   Never mind the fact that ad budgets for campaigns such as this are much higher than you or I could ever justify on spending on nothing more than a "photo", some "graphics", and a catchy slogan.

Stay tuned for more subliminals in PAPERLESS.  We hope you have enjoyed this one.  

Feel free to send me scans of ads that you believe contain juicy subliminal images - send them to the attention of

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