Thursday, May 14, 2009

Commercials I Hate

I know I've got a lot to blog about, considering that over the past three weeks I've graduated from BYU, performed/hung out in New York, moved back to Oregon, and chopped off all my hair - again - this time in the style of the young boy protagonist from White Mane. That is all great blogging material. I understand this. However, I have also spent a lot of time watching TV in the past week or so, which has led to my taking in a lot of really annoying commercials. Quite frankly, something must be said.

Let's talk, for example, about Old Navy's "Supermodelquin" commercials. Firstly and foremostly, there is the fact that Old Navy seems completely confused about how FREAKING CREEPY mannequins are (1987's Mannequin notwithstanding). It's like they've never even heard the Uncanny Valley. Or, you know, considered how they might feel if all the mannequins that they were dressing, undressing, and literally posing and moving every day were to actually come to life and become capable of real thought and real emotions - emotions like hatred, for example, or sadness, or plain, simple bloodlust - but still somehow remain incapable of any kind of real action. These ad execs never gave a thought to the reality of those plastic creatures existing for years and years, their thoughts and feelings bottled up deep within their shiny, nearly-human exteriors where they fester and grow like some awful internal virus until the day comes when they can no longer tolerate the weight of their own awful repression and they finally find a way to exact revenge upon their unfeeling oppressors and puppet masters. So every couple of commercial breaks the poor, doomed executive minds of Old Navy return, telegraphing their own eventual downfall for all to see while we sit before our television sets, unable or unwilling to do anything to help...and this is somehow supposed to make me want to buy clothes?!?

That, and the commercials are generally unfunny, unclever, and annoying.

I have a similar complaint about the MultiGrain Cheerios commercial, except you have to multiply all my complaints by about a thousand because I straight-up HATE this commercial. It actually fills me with rage every time it comes on TV. Apparently this was originally a British commercial that they re-dubbed with American accents before photoshopping in a new box, which is a real shame because this commercial should never have existed in the first place. It's weird and unfunny - in fact, it's downright depressing. Look at the pale, bluish cast to the picture, leaving us with a world devoid of color or life. Then there's the constantly swinging camera, pulling in far too close to show us the grainy texture of our protagonists' sleepless skin, the hopeless look in their dull, lifeless eyes. If this were the "before" half of a commercial for some kind of prescription medication, it would all make sense. As it is, we are left with the grim vision of a couple on the precepice of divorce - or perhaps, given the way it's been inexplicably fast-forwarded in many TV versions, pure insanity. After weeks of late-night fights that have left them both exhausted and emotionally bereft, Steve and Wife come together over a breakfast of MultiGrain Cheerios. As his one last attempt at some kind of olive branch, Steve asks about the breakfast cereal. After all, he reasons, what more innocuous subject could there be than cold cereal? But his attempts at communication, as always in this relationship, fall flat at the feet of his cold, unfeeling, hopelessly insecure spouse. In the last moment, as Steve finally silences himself before she can do it for him, we peer into the hellish abyss left in the wake of this once-happy marriage and say to ourselves, "Hey, at least that cereal's low-calorie." In fact, it is the shining beacon of that oddly-photoshopped box that hovers over this entire situation, the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak wasteland of despair. It is bright, but offers no hope, creating conflict and then abandoning Steve to find his own way out. Notice that Steve doesn't even eat the blasted cereal in the end, his appetite abandoning him like every other source of joy in his life. The oft-referenced "box" remains, then, a distant and oddly malicious house deity; it is a fascinating but capricious specter that may help you manage your weight, but only by shrinking your heart. Yeah, I definitely want to go buy one of those right now.

All that, and it's generally unfunny, unclever, and annoying.

Look people, I know the ad business is hard. I've known my fair share of advertising students. I've watched that TV show with Eric McCormack and the guy who played JD's brother on Scrubs. This is tough stuff. But some commercials just shouldn't be on TV - even if they do make for really, really good blogging material sometimes.