Andy Griffith: Farewell to the Last Great American Shill

Andy Griffith has died.

This news in and of itself is not a shocker as the man was 86 years old. Predictably the Twitterverse has lit up with tweets from all corners of the country. So far my favorite tweets range the gamut of emotion –

From the heartfelt:

To the quizzical:

And finally, so we can be reminded once again that the Twitter is actually ran by 12 year old girls:

Andy Griffith was an accomplished musician, never blue comedian, gifted actor,  sometimes political activist, and highly effective corporate shill.  Now don’t take that word out of context.  Webster defines a shill as one who ‘acts as a spokesperson or promoter’ .  Yes the term is normally presented in a negative light, but this post is meant to praise Andy Griffith while slamming todays promosluts like the Kardashians.  I have nothing but the deepest respect and warmest memories of the man whom to many people around the world epitomizes American culture.

Click Here to Tweet Andy Griffith:  Farewell to the Last Great American Shill

Like many of my brethren that were raised on a rural route, I grew up watching Andy Griffith on television. Reruns of Mayberry RFD and The Andy Griffith show were staples in our house during my formative years and while my mother loved the Matlock series, true to form, I didn’t pick up on it until it was also in reruns when an extended gout attack had me bed ridden for a few weeks. Andy was also one of the finest non blue comics I have ever heard and I still laugh out loud when I hear ‘What it Was, Was Football’. Hell, I think I still have the original 45 rpm recording of that comedy bit somewhere. My favorite country music video is ‘Waiting on a Woman’ by Brad Paisley which also prominently features Mr. Griffith as the titular character. Yes, hearing Andy’s voice automatically transports my always crowded and frenzied mind back to a simpler time in my life. In typical Hollywood form, it is true that our RFD lives were never quite as interesting nor were the resolutions quite as comforting as they were in Mayberry but our lives did share many traits that are direly missed in the hustling and bustling city slicker life I lead today.

Yes there were vicious rumors that he was difficult to work with; crotchety, a perfectionist, just an all around general ass with i’m-better-than-you-itis. So what? So am I. An entertainer, whether that be a actor, musician, comedian, or deejay, should be remembered by they way they made you feel while plying their trade. I refuse to buy into celebrity culture and much like how I’m sure you really don’t want to know how a hot dog is made, I don’t really care to know what had to happen in the Hollywood kitchen to come up with the entertainment I’m about to consume.

So where am I going with this? Well, quite simply, not only has our world lost a fantastic entertainer, it has lost one of the best corporate spokesmen America has ever known. A quick YouTube search can find Andy shilling away for Nabisco Ritz Crackers, Post Grapenuts, Gaines Burger Dog Food, AT&T Long Distance, Kraft Cheese, Shoney’s Restaurants, A1 Steak Sauce, and much more. Andy was a trusted family member [youtube width=”500″ height=”350″][/youtube]that we welcomed into our home to sell us stuff we probably didn’t need. His corporate messages were delivered perfectly with that soothing homespun southern drawl and resonated within our minds and stuck with us for ages. I’m 43 years old and it has been over 30 years since Andy last spoke his signature ‘MMM… MMM… MMM… That’s a Good Cracker‘ and I still hear his voice each and every time I pick up a box of Ritz crackers down at the Kroger.

Tell me one celebrity corporate shill today that we will remember in 30 years. For that matter, is there a single celebrity corporate shill that not only makes you interested in a product, but actually make it feel like it is your duty as an American to purchase said product? We live in an age where all you have to do to get famous is fuck (literally or figuratively) someone famous – no discernible talent or skills required. Would you buy a Ritz Cracker from Kim Kardashian? Grapenuts from Paris Hilton? Kraft Cheese from Snookie? Car Insurance from Norm MacDonald? (ok bad example, I still won’t buy insurance from him but I think both he and the commercials are hilarious)

I know times are changing and this post is coming across as a geriatric get off my lawn moment, but I miss the days where the real talent cream settled on the top and wasn’t blended into a smoothie with sex tape reality star artificial non talent whip on top. Andy Griffith was one of the last of a soon to be extinct genus of celebrities who actually used their own hard work, dedication, and talent to climb to the top. Although Andy leaves behind an exhaustive body of work, he will be dearly missed by both the public and the corporate citizens of the world.