But maybe I’m not so crazy after all. It turns out that there is a huge audience for a good mystery. I was reminded of this in class last week. I’d asked my college students to find fun examples of ads that we could use for our rhetorical analyses. One student confessed a penchant for Kentucky Fried Chicken ads. He’s followed the company for some time; somehow he’s amused by the Colonel and his various forms of persuasion. “KFC even put out a mini-movie,” he mentioned casually. “That would be fun to analyze too.”
A mini-movie? By a chicken company? I would have dismissed my student’s interest as downright silly until he told the title: “A Recipe for Seduction.” By then I was intrigued. After class I went straight to Youtube. For the next sixteen minutes I was entertained by a young Colonel Sanders. Hired as a chef for rich snobs, he holds onto his dream of escaping poverty. His ticket to freedom: a winning chicken recipe.
But he has more. A beautiful woman who falls in love with him. The beautiful woman’s mother, who thinks nothing of plotting murder. A rival who thinks nothing of committing said plotted murder to gain favors with both women.
The mini-movie has more as well. It uses a full range of common mystery tropes from oversized kitchen knives to hidden rooms, and greed, so much greed—to tell a tongue-in-cheek story of a humble chicken cook.
It doesn’t hurt that the story takes place in an enviably lush setting where all the attractive actors wear carefully designed costumes or that the Colonel himself is a well-known, impossibly cute actor (I’ll keep it a mystery). But the film is a thrilling reminder that, while writing and reading mysteries might be a ludicrous way of understanding the world, it’s a way many choose. Mystery lovers can’t help themselves. They willingly succumb to mysterious seduction. Sometimes, even to fried chicken.