04 February 2012

Consumer Product Review: ‘Glee’ Valentines from Hallmark

The collection includes little stickers and a teacher card.

As a public service to my readers, I have purchased a box of Hallmark Brand Glee-themed Valentine cards at a major national retailer, with a view to telling you what to expect if you buy them.

The Glee Valentines are designed for schoolkids, presumably somewhat younger than those depicted on the TV series but somewhat older than I was when I went around buying inexpensive cards at 32 to a box — so that I could give one to every kid in my class. In my day, we didn’t have Valentines with pictures of popular TV stars on them (can’t you just imagine the Partridge Family and Brady Bunch Valentines!), but the cards were corny nevertheless, and they provoked terrible anxiety.

Matching the card to the right classmate was nothing less than an ordeal. This message was too romantic, that one not romantic enough. This picture was too girly, that one too boring. And then came the teacher card: there was only one. What if you made a spelling error? Not only did it say “Teacher,” it was larger than all the others, and so she would know if you gave her one of the regular cards. What if you had 35 friends and only 32 cards?

Can you wonder that I was such a nervous child?

Four to a sheet, recto-verso.

The Glee Valentines are manufactured in the spirit of the cards I used to give, and they’re reasonably priced, at $2.50. My customer satisfaction isn’t high, however. The cards themselves are printed on lightweight paper, four images to a sheet. There are only four designs, so too bad for you if you don’t like one of the slogans. No envelopes are included, which may be a good thing: after all, the glue on those old envelopes was cheap and never stuck, and the envelopes would be thrown out almost instantly in any case, which, in the days before recycling, amounted to needless waste.

More satisfactory are the stickers, squares emblazoned with hearts in which are printed photos of Rachel, Finn, Quinn, Puck, Mercedes, and Kurt, four different shots of each character; as well as about 10 stickers with graphics, including a heart-shaped G clef and slogans proudly advertising “I’m a gleek” and “I [heart] glee.” It’s a bit tough to peel the stickers off the paper backing, however, but the adhesive seems to be of decent quality. I put a sticker on an envelope, and it’s staying put.

And now the Consolidated Edison company will know that I’m a Gleek.

The teacher card is folded in half and only slightly larger than the student cards. With pictures of Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester on the front, it reads, “Teachers: The good. The BAD…,” and then on the inside it completes the thought, “…and the awesome: YOU! Happy Valentine’s Day.” So even if your teacher doesn’t watch Glee, he or she may understand that you meant to say something nice. Or anyway, you didn’t say “ugly.”

Among the student cards, the first design features Mercedes, pointing her finger at the viewer, and Kurt, looking quite pleased to be presenting such an inclusive image. Look, kids! Black people and homosexuals can enjoy Valentine’s, too!

Well, the actual message on the front is, “What you got is HOT, Valentine!” Turn the card over, and the follow-up inscription is “Stay sizzlin’.” On this as on all the cards, there’s plenty of room to write the “to” and “from” names.

The next design features the hunky straight boys from the show, with Finn pointing at the viewer now, backed up by Puck and Sam. “One Valentine’s Day just ISN’T enough …” reads the front, and the back continues, “…for THIS much cuteness!”

Here, I can imagine how my anxieties would rage — hell, I can almost feel ‘em coming back to me. To whom could I possibly give this card? I couldn’t give it to a boy! And how many girls would want to receive a picture of cute boys from another boy?

At the very least, might this not suggest that I thought I was excessively cute? And at the very worst — have I mentioned that I grew up in Texas?

The anxiety mounts with the next card, which features Rachel grinning cluelessly while Quinn and Puck flash the “loser” L behind her. “Happy Valentine’s Day…” reads the front, and the back continues, “To somebody who is SO not a loser!”

That’s a backward compliment, I must say. To whom are you going to give this card? If your Valentine is not a loser, why do you need to say so? If your Valentine really is a loser, will your condescending, cheap little reassurance really mean anything?

Imagine, if you will, that Lisa Simpson gives Ralph Wiggum this Valentine, instead of that adorable little train that says, “I choo-choo-choose you.”

“I’m so not a loser! Lisa thinks I’m not a loser!” Ralph says happily, before stopping short. “Wait, you mean somebody else does think I’m a loser?” he says, heartbroken. And suddenly the whole episode is ruined. Do you really want that on your conscience, Fox?

The final design shows the auditorium stage, as Artie, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina Chang, and Finn stretch out their arms “taa-daa” style, showing at last that Asian–Americans and kids in wheelchairs also enjoy the holiday, while Rachel falls face first down the steps. “Have a fantastic Valentine’s Day…” reads the front, and the back continues, “…or ELSE I’ll sing.”

That, at least, is a Valentine that I might have distributed freely at almost any age.

My advice to diehard Glee fans is to buy the cards but keep them “mint in box.” These things are the definition of ephemera, and if you can keep them in their original condition, they might be worth something in about 40 years — not unlike the corny Valentines I used to give when I was a boy. Too bad I didn’t hold onto those things.

1 comment:

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Consumer Product Review