If there’s one thing New Mexicans probably know very little about, it’s how we attract tourists to our state. I guess that makes sense—we’re already here, so nobody has to focus on getting us to come.
Recently, my favorite The New York Times columnist, Gail Collins, in a piece headlined “My State’s Prettier Than Yours,” mentioned that our tourism slogan is “New Mexico True.” Since that phrase struck me as meaningless gibberish, I thought surely Gail got it wrong.
But no! I went to our tourism site. It turns out we are luring tourists here with precisely that theme.
“We are all travelers. We seek what is true and we push past what we know to be false,” one of our tourism videos informed me.
Really? Try doing this: Pretend Rod Serling is reading those same lines at the opening of a Twilight Zone episode. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Pretty goofy stuff, huh?
Just to be clear, the tourism campaign is correct about New Mexico being a fabulous destination. This place is full of wonders. So full, in fact, that we should not have to present ourselves as somehow being “true” while other places are “false,” whatever the hell that even means.
I do question why we’re trying to attract people who are vacuous enough to fall for this sales pitch. I guess it’s because their tourism money is as good as anybody else’s, and we needn’t worry about them overcrowding our Mensa meetings.
“New Mexico isn’t about plastic replicas, papier-mâché attractions, or contrived adventures,” our tourism website explains. The implication is that you don’t want to waste your time at destinations like that papier-mâché Grand Canyon in Arizona or at that plastic Alamo in Texas.
The New Mexico tourism ad I watched recites its narrative as we watch stunning images of scenic vistas and giddy kayakers. It shows people enjoying tacos—real ones, not the plastic kind they serve you in other states. It even shows hikers posing with happy llamas—you know, the animals, not the Buddhist clergymen.
“Where is true found…and false forgotten? Where? New Mexico True,” the hogwash goes on.
Really? False forgotten? So not only is our state true, but we can mess with your memories and make you forget false places such as Rome and Paris and New Orleans and Nantucket. Those memories aren’t real; they were just a bad dream.
“Where is the place that will speak to us, crystal clear, in a voice that is familiar and kind?” the commercial asks.
Okay, this is just getting weird. A voice that is crystal clear and familiar and kind? It sounds like they’re saying Jesus wants me to come to New Mexico! “Hey, I’m already here, Jesus! I’m up at the Santa Fe Rooftop Pizzeria! In the yellow shirt! Can you see me, Jesus?”
I would think a campaign like this could backfire. Badly.
“Hey, kids, it’s time to plan our summer vacation! You want to go kayaking and hike until you drop and look at miles and miles and miles of real pretty scenery? Doesn’t that sound a lot better than those plastic places like Disney World and Universal Studios and Dollywood?
“Doesn’t it, kids?
“Well, doesn’t it? Um, you don’t need to answer right away, kids…”
Robert Basler’s humor column runs twice monthly in SFR. Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org