One of my favorite things about Slate is the weekly Ken Jennings news trivia quiz. I usually do quite well and, on occasion, can be as good a guesser as Ken. I often learn news of the weird type things while taking the quiz. That’s how I heard about this tasteless, tacky, and other T words promo campaign from a tour company in the Big D:
A Dallas tour company drew criticism after an image of one of its buses featuring a controversial design floated around on social media.
Dallas City Tours’ design consisted of a photo of former president John F. Kennedy with the line “Big Things Happen Here,” which critics said was an inappropriate reference to Kennedy’s 1963 assassination in Dallas, according to WFAA News 8, a Dallas news agency. Critics also found the placement of the metal door handle—in the middle of JFK’s forehead—offensive.
The tour bus conducts four tours each day, and makes several stops along city landmarks, many related to JFK’s assassination. Some viewers found this to be an acceptable explanation of why the former president’s image would appear on the bus.
The owner of Dallas City Tours told WFAA News 8 that the slogan was intended to be on the other side of the bus, as it was in the original design he sent to graphic artists, and that he regrets how the design turned out. The owner said he will cover up the current design while a new one is prepared.
Offensive? Yes. Tacky? Yes. But more importantly, this is dumb and exploitative. I understand that people make a Big D deal about seeing Dealy Plaza, but JFK’s murder is one of the most searing tragedies in our history. This company seems to treat it as akin to a ghost tour or something.
I get tourism. Tourism is the life’s blood of the New Orleans economy. It shouldn’t be, but that’s an argument for another day. There are all sorts of tours cashing in on some of the grizzlier and more tragic aspects of our history. But pairing an image of President Kennedy with the slogan “big things happen here” makes the NOLA misery bus tours of the Lower Ninth Ward look tasteful in comparison. The placement of the door handle makes it worse but it’s not the only problem.
If this was a stunt to get attention, it worked. But it also proves while that T is for Texas it can also stand for tawdry and tacky. Here’s a picture of the not so magic bus via Frontburner D Magazine: