Friday, January 29, 2010

Does Matthews even watch his own show?

I hate it when people attempt to make commercials for their own tv "news" shows. They are always so incredibly self-important, and I never fail to marvel at their almost unnerving ability to blow their own horns. But no one on television can spread the Check Out How Amazing I Am bullshit like aging MSNBC bloviating talking head Chris Matthews.

"I think I'm unique in this business, in that I really enjoy a good argument" Matthews begins. Oh, PLEASE!! Anyone who has ever watched Hardball knows what Matthews thinks a "good argument" is: It's Matthews asking a question, interrupting the answer three seconds later to add to the question or repeat it, interrupting five seconds later to restate the question, and finally interrupting five seconds later to answer it himself. Matthews asks questions for one reason and one reason only-to hear himself talk. Getting the answer from the guest? Not important.

"I especially love it when I Outsmart somebody." To Matthews, "outsmart" means "outtalk." It means interrupting, changing the subject when things aren't going the host's way, and getting in the last word (which is unsurprisingly easy when you are the host of the show.) Anyone who has watched Matthews over the years knows that he couldn't "outsmart" a box turtle.

"What I love most is when someone tries something that's worked on someone else, and it doesn't work on me. And I nail 'em. I love that." I've never seen this in perhaps a thousand viewings of Matthews' various shows over the last decade or more. Unless "nailing 'em" means "Oh Come On!" or "I don't believe it!" or "ok, that's your opinion!" I suspect it does- which helps me understand why Matthews clearly thinks that he's always by far the smartest man in the room. The bar to "winning an argument" is set so very low.

Here's what you really need to know about Chris Matthews: He was a huge cheerleader for the Iraq War, which he now calls a debacle and anyone who supported it a fool. He has suffered in the past from very public and disgusting man-crushes on George W Bush, Mitt Romney, and others, obsessed with shoulder width ("you could land an airliner on Mitt's shoulders!") and successful play-acting ("Bush looked AWESOME and so MANLY in the flight suit, men love that, he looked like he REALLY COULD fly that fighter!") He is obsessed with Hillary Clinton and is always ready for a quick Bill Clinton snark, no context necessary. He enjoys waxing poetic about times that never were, when "tough Irish boys and tough Italian boys played stick ball on the streets and grew up to be police on the beat, and Mayors." He's a failed politician who I KNOW continues to fantasize about himself in the White House, and is bitter toward people who succeeded in achieving HIS boyhood dream. And he's the only person on television who thinks that "brokered conventions" are still political possibilities and that having worked on Capital Hill thirty years ago gives him some kind of current "inside knowledge" to how things "really work up there."

In short, he's a loud-mouthed, rude, witless punk whose time came and went roughly twenty years ago, and his abrasive asshattery comes through loud and clear in his ads. He needs to just STFU and go the hell away.

Oh, and Chris? Take Joe Scarborough with you. Please.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Miller Lite: It wasn't funny when Fonzie did this, it sure as hell isn't funny 30 years later

A twentysomething guy with the requisite moused hair and two-days beard growth (seriously, when is this fad going to end? It's been YEARS since I've seen a guy under the age of 40 with a clean-shaven face on a tv commercial) is sitting with a cute girl in a bar. He's finishing some story involving "a bag full of monkeys"- whatever.

Then the cute girl springs it on him- "there's something I've been meaning to tell you. I love you." Did she decide that Tonight was the Night she was finally going to let him know? Did the Bag of Monkeys story remind her that she loves this guy? Who knows? The point is, we now get to the hideous punchline- the guy responds by attempting to return the sentiment, but he can't get the word "love" past this lips. "Well, I luhhh.....I luhhh...I mean, come on, look at you you're gorgeous, I luhhhhh....."

Naturally his date just looks on quizzically, waiting for him to spit it out, once even muttering "you're so cute!"- I assume because she thinks he's kidding. He's not kidding.

"Would you like another Miller Lite?" asks the waitress. "I'd Love One" the guy easily responds.

Oh ha ha ha, this is BEYOND funny. This guy is terrified of commitment, get it? He can't say the word "Love" to his girlfriend, because that means the relationship has become serious. He can only use the word "love" in reference to beer- and, I'm assuming, buffalo wings, Avatar, fantasy football, and his new Droid.

When I was a kid, there was this show on television called "Happy Days." Henry Winkler played Arthur Fonzerelli, who started as a rather ancillary character but gradually came to dominate the show, ultimately ruining it. Late in it's run, it included a regular bit involving "Fonzie" attempting to say "I was Wrong"- and being incapable of getting the word "Wrong" out of his mouth. It was supposed to be funny. It wasn't. Not even once, and certainly not the fourteenth time we saw it.

Miller Lite- not that you need to be told that you are out of ideas, but- when you reach back four decades for a joke, you are really, really out of ideas. How about just telling us it's good beer, and settling for that?

Oh right- those pesky Truth in Advertising Laws. My bad.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

They're both thinking, 'this has to work, 'cause I'm not going through this shit again.' commercial- cute blonde girl is staring at herself in the lady's room mirror, checking her teeth for food particles. Narrator: "She's thinking, 'this date is going really well.'"

Average-looking guy is staring at himself in the men's room mirror, picking at his limp hair. Narrator: "He's thinking, 'what is with my hair?'"

Cute girl and average guy synchronize their exits from the restrooms perfectly- and fall into a passionate kiss. Right there- right in front of the lavatories. How romantic.

Narrator: "They are both thinking, 'this is the beginning.'"

Ugh, Ugh! Where to start? First- from "this date is going really well," I think it's fair to assume that this is their first date. They've just eaten at a restaurant. During the meal, they probably got to know each other a little bit- common interests, hobbies, some insight to what drove them to risk utter humiliation and emotional ruin by signing up with, etc.- and they seem to have some level of chemistry. Yes, it's going really well.

But I'm sorry- no first date carried out by ordinary human beings includes a fall-into-eachother's-arms-in-front-of-the-restroom passionate kiss. One of these people is the kisser, the other is the kissee. The kissee got what may or may not be a nice surprise. The kisser just announced how desperate he or she is to make this the Beginning of not A long-term relationship, but THE long-term relationship. The LAST one. EVER.

That kiss just screams "I'm done looking. There's nothing after It's the Supreme Court of dating- the final say. If this doesn't work out, I die alone. I'm not dying alone. So here's your lip-lock. Consider yourself Mine." Scary.

In real life sane, rational people don't make a "ok, this is it, let's go pick out rings tomorrow" gesture during a first date. Unless they are my former students ;>).

(Sorry, inside joke there.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Anything" doesn't mean what it used to

Here's a nice young couple, gushing over their new little bundle of joy. Clearly, she's the center of their life. But just in case we aren't convinced by the playing and the beaming smiles, proud daddy tells us that "we'd do anything for Cloe. That's why we went to Legal Zoom."

Jesus, Seriously? Your only child is so important to you that in order to protect her future you went to some website for legal documents? You really thought that this action was above and beyond the alternative- actually sitting down with a real human being with property and family law degrees and having a serious discussion about how to protect Cloe in the event of a tragedy that may cost her the support of one or both parents?

"Anything for Cloe" meant downloading One Size Fits All legal documents and just assuming that Mommy and Daddy know what the hell they are doing when they sign here and initial there?

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that "anything for Cloe" might include taking her financial security seriously enough to discuss it with a qualified attorney, even if it does cost a few extra bucks. But what do I know? These people probably think that buying Brand X diapers at Wal-Mart constitutes going the extra mile for Cloe, too. "No Target diapers for our daughter, thank you very much. Nothing is too good for her!" Weird.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time to part the fools and their money again

It's January again, which means that W-2 forms are filling mailboxes and millions of people are once again confronted with the Great American Dilemma: "how do I get my refund?"

Which means it's time for another rash of "Let us prepare your tax returns for you" ads, aimed primarily at the expanding population of low-income, paycheck-to-paycheck workers who are most likely to welcome a quick refund- in fact, may be relying on it to maintain a roof over their heads. That these tax-preparation agencies- which I will not mention by name, because they have a lot of money and I don't need the headache- target the most vulnerable among us makes them loathsome enough. That their ads feature grinning morons waving fans of cash in our faces make them even worse.

Here's the latest:

Gullible Moron: "I don't got my W-2 form yet."
Narrator: "No problem! We'll download it for you!"

Gullible Moron: "How much money I gonna get?"
Narrator: "We can give you an estimate within minutes!"

Gullible Moron: "When I gonna get my money?"
Narrator: "With our refund advance service, we can put the money in your hands the same day you come in!"

Cue delighted Gullible Moron driving off waving fan of cash- yay! That was so fast and convenient! These people were so nice, so helpful!

Except, let's get serious. Want your W-2 downloaded? That's going to cost you some money. Want an estimate of your refund? That's going to cost you some money. Want the money right now? There's no such thing as a "refund advance." The tax preparer who offers this is giving you a percentage of your expected refund- minus interest, minus fees, etc.- and taking advantage of what is either cluelessness on your part, or just plain desperation. When you drive off waving a fan of cash, you really ought to suppress the smile, because there's no reason to be happy about being financially abused by a company that specializes in kicking people when they are down.

These people are not being nice. They are not being helpful. They are being vultures, except that vultures actually provide an essential service by keeping nature free of disease-spreading carrion. So I'll just call them scumbags instead, and continue to wish that Congress would pass a law abolishing the "services" they "offer."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 I mean, How hard can this be?

The guy on the latest commercial really cracks me up with his matter-of-fact dismissive tone toward the "competing" blind date (excuse me, "life partner-finding") websites.

"This site guaranteed that they'd help me find my soul mate. But if they were so sure, why'd they insist that I sign up for a whole year?"

Jesus, great point, buddy. Because we aren't talking about investment sites or fantasy baseball here. It's just paying someone to find the person you should plan on spending the rest of your natural life with. It's not rocket science- why should it potentially take an entire YEAR?

Come to think of it, what's with these monthly fees? If these sites are so great, why should it take them an entire MONTH to hook you up with the woman of your dreams? I can get a latte at Starbucks in (slightly) less time than that! I mean, you GIVE them your weight, height, and a page or so of personal information- why doesn't the name of the girl you are going to be sharing your life with just pop up as soon as you submit it? Rip off artists!!

This guy is just too much. But maybe I can help him out here: Maybe the other match sites realize that people who have given up hope finding someone by conventional means- you know, through family, friends, work, school, stalk-- um, school-- might require a FEW hits and misses over several months before they find someone willing to be with them more than once or twice (even if the pool of people being culled for you is made up of hopeless, socially disfunctional twits who have also decided that they'd rather let a computer program throw them together with someone than risk dying alone.) Just a thought.

And here's one more- how pathetic is this guy, who is willing to spend money to let strangers match him up with other losers, but not too much money over a period of time? "Sure, I'm willing to spend twenty dollars to find my dream girl in the next month- but $240 over the next year? No way."

As someone who decided quite some time ago that he'd rather die alone than submit to E-Harmony,, or any of the other soulless "dating sites" which specialize primarily in separating sad people from their money, I guess I should have a bit more empathy for this guy. Except that, in the end, he does sign up with So he's not just a loser- he's an impatient, cheap loser.

What a great catch- I can't believe he's still out there!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Loathsome People, Unsupportable Claims

1. Gigantic weird geek doofus tell us that Windows 7 was "his idea." His proof? Well, turns out he was standing in the shower one day (wearing his glasses, because if he takes them off in the shower like every single person on the planet who wears glasses does, we might forget for a moment that he's a weird geek doofus) suddenly gets a brainstorm- "Make It Simpler."

Wow, what a brilliant "idea." Make it simpler. How does Microsoft go about "making it simpler?" Doesn't say. Seems he's the idea guy, not the application guy. After all, you can't expect too much from a guy smart enough to come up with the brilliant plan to "make Windows simpler" but not smart enough to take his damned glasses off while in the shower.

To ratchet up the Geek factor, the guy's wife tells us "he called his mom." To ratchet up the Weird factor, the guy's wife is roughly one-third the geek's height. I mean, what the hell? Did this guy's ego pierce his pituitary gland? Is his commercial "co-star" three feet tall?

2. Here's a fat, middle-aged choad who tells us that no, actually, Windows 7 was his idea. Proof? Well, he suddenly had this brainstorm that this laptop (the one he's carrying) really ought to work with this laptop (the one sitting on his kitchen table) which also ought to work with this laptop (the one being used by a kid I take as his son, who is sitting in a sunken living room in front of a 60-inch plasma tv.) "I don't want to brag" he tells us, "but hey, it's my house!"

Jesus, it's not enough that you can afford a palatial suburban estate, complete with at least three brand-new laptops and a tv bigger than the one at my neighborhood multiplex, you've got to claim to be the inventor of Windows 7, too?

Let's cut to the chase, shall we? "Make it simpler" is not really a patentable concept. Neither is "make it work with other technology." And if "I'm giving myself credit for something I didn't do" is patentable, it's been done already, many, many times over.

"I'm a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea." Good luck with that. I notice you don't claim that these commercials were your idea. And I don't blame you. Because they are really stupid.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And on the Sixth Day, G-d Created Debt Counselors.

The latest VISA commercial takes us back to a bygone age, an age before people carried pieces of plastic representing thousands of dollars in potential debt in their pockets, an age where people only bought what they could afford, and saved for the rest.

You know, the Dark Ages.

"Once upon a time, there was a thing called paper money..." yes indeed there was. When you had it, you decided whether you wanted to save it, or spend it. You created things called "budgets." If you are like me, you were handed a little blue book from your local bank when you were in first grade which had a quote from William Jennings Bryan on the cover- something about the words "We Cannot Afford It" being the most valuable in the English language. You brought your bank book and a dollar into school every day and it was put into a pile with the bank books of your friends. When you got the book back, you were thrilled to see the bank's stamp next to your deposit amount, and your eyes glowed at the increasing balance and the magic of Interest.

Thank goodness, those horrible days ultimately gave away to the glorious era of "Digital Currency." Watch now as everyone scans and swipes their way through life, so much more convenient than messing with that ugly, dirty old paper. As the Medieval Period gave way to the Renaissance, so did the days of carrying hard-earned cash (or even checks representing money you actually had in your account) give way to the era of taking out a Digital Loan every time you buy a pack of cigarettes or a roll of TP. And it's so much better now!

After all, using your own money to buy things is really overrated. I've noticed that you can buy much more if you use VISA's "Digital Currency," simply because VISA as more money than I do! And they are so happy to let us borrow it, why would anyone EVER use their own money, ever again?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to look into stopping these Harassing Phone Calls...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Owen Wilson's Brother's Lame Bait and Switch

Here he is again, everyone's favorite AT&T shill, that guy whose brother played Hansel in Zoolander and some tiny cowboy dude in two Night at the Museum flicks. This time, Owen Wilson's brother is standing under a huge map which I guess has become the phone company's new logo, "popping up" in front of big-screen tvs, in malls, etc. etc. Hoping that the commercial audience is distracted by the safety hazard hanging over Owen's brother, Owen's brother delivers a spectacularly illogical answer to Verizon's "charge" that it covers more people and more places than AT&T:

"Verizon's been telling people that they provide more coverage than AT&T. But when you look closer, their story really doesn't hold together." Bits of the giant map over Owen's brother begin to fall off. "Doesn't hold together"- Get It?

"But lets take a look at the facts. AT&T covers more than 230 million people. With AT&T, you can talk and surf the web at the same time. And, AT&T has the coolest phones."

The rest of the map collapses all around Owen's brother. "I'm glad I could clear that up."

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Non Sequitur Theatre! Despite the giant map and the crashing red marble things coming down, I couldn't help but notice that the magician never did manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat at the end of the ad. Owen's brother pretends to take on the charge against Verizon- then changes the subject. AT&T covers more than 230 million people- is that more than Verizon? Mr. Wilson doesn't say. Does Verizon claim that it's phones allow you to surf the web and talk at the same time? No. Does Verizon claim to have the "coolest phones?" Well, maybe, but isn't "coolest" kind of a subjective term?

What Verizon did claim was that it provided more coverage in more places- and Owen Wilson's brother never even attempts to dispute this claim. He just dismisses it by pointing out the attributes of the cool, web-surfing AT&T phones. Total fail.

Let's try this on for size:

"You know, my neighbor says his car gets better gas mileage than mine does. I'd like to set the record straight. My car gets great gas mileage. Also, it's blue, and has XM radio. I'm glad I could clear that up for you."

Maybe I should just give this guy a break. I mean, its got to be tough to be the lesser-talented Wilson brother. Especially when it's becoming increasingly clear that My Super Ex-Girlfriend II doesn't appear to becoming to a theater near me anytime soon.

Maybe Owen will let you hand him his spurs in Night at the Museum III?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Next week, look for Tracy to be sporting her new Patriots Jersey

Sprint's "Now Network" commercial: A woman in a Steelers jersey is sitting with two "friends" on a couch situated roughly 18 inches from the tv set. Like all sane Americans, this woman and her "friends" are shouting at the tv, waving foam fingers, etc.

The disembodied voice narrating the commercial arbitrarily decides that Tracy Palmer, the female in question, isn't having enough fun with her friends, and tosses her a new Sprint phone with the "Now Network." Now she's saying "hey hey hey, goodbye" to the old "restricted" service which condemned her to an afternoon with these particular people. She's popping out of the bubble and doing something much more fun than watching tv- "she's calling every NFL fan in the country to talk a little smack about her team."

And not just talk. Tracy is using every cliche'd gesture in the book, jumping up and down, lunging, etc. as she calls one unsuspecting cell phone owner in the United States to rave about her team. At the end of the commercial, a talked-out Tracy shuts the phone and walks off into oblivion.

Here's what is especially funny about this ad- that Steelers Jersey. I wonder, during which of the Steelers five straight losses was Tracy Palmer "talking smack about her team?" I wonder why she's still "talking smack" about the golf course-bound Steelers this afternoon, during the Bengals-Jets game (what do the Bengals and Jets have in common? They are two AFC teams in the playoffs. Unlike the Steelers.)

So go ahead and talk your smack, Tracy Palmer. Call every NFL fan in the country. When you get to me, I'm sticking it right back in your face. Your team is sitting home today- maybe you would have noticed their exit, if you had stuck to watching tv with your friends instead of giving in to the impulse to brag on your team as it flushed its season down the toilet. My guess is that Sprint is scrambling to photo-shop you into a Colts, Patriots or Cowboys fan even as we speak.

Worst. Segue. Ever.

"If you don't think leaks can be a big problem, you've never taken a trip with your grandfather as he acts like a test pilot for adult diapers."

Old Man Voice: "(groaning) Houston....we have a problem!"

Ugh, ok, a couple of things straight off. First, are we supposed to be amused at the thought of grampa on a car trip, struggling with his own incontinence? Second- "Houston, we have a problem?" Next to "we're not in Kansas anymore," is there any hackneyed, long-since-ready-for-the-scrap-heap cliche out there? Does anyone actually make any effort at ALL when writing commercials, screenplays, etc. anymore?

But wait, it gets much worse. Turns out, this commercial has NOTHING to do with bladder problems, automobile trips, or dead-horse throwaway eye-rolling cliches. Because next thing we hear is "at Dura-Lite, we take leaks seriously. We are experts in providing Charge Air Coolers for all your trucking needs..."

Good freaking lord, I wish I was kidding. We got a lame joke and old man groaning that he's in the process of wetting himself as a set up for a product that (I guess) is used to stop leaking in your truck's air cooling unit. They both involve "leaking." Get it? GET IT?

Here's what I get: The makers of Dura-Lite either hired the "B" team to write this dreck, or they decided "hey, all commercials sound alike anyway, how hard can it be to write one?" and did it themselves. Either way, it was a bad decision, because what they end up with is a juvenile piece of rubbish that barely touches on the identity of the actual product (I had to look it up online, and after a quick glance at the website I'm STILL not quite certain what is being sold here.) If in fact the product stops air coolant leakage in trucks, that's fine- but how the hell does that rationally and logically connect to grampa wetting his pants in the car? I mean, is this really the best you can do?

If so- would you buy a "Charge Air Cooler" from people who listened to this commercial, said "yep, go with it, we want our product associated with this?"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's not Delivery, as you'll realize the moment you take a bite

These "It's not Delivery, It's DiGiorno" ads have been around for a long, long time- over a decade, in fact- and they've always struck me as being a really pathetic attempt at brainwashing through repetition. As in, "if we tell people that this frozen pizza tastes like delivery pizza often enough, the stupid viewing public will actually start to buy it."

The commercials themselves have always veered from mildly stupid to just plain asinine. Some years back, we were "treated" to the sight of a half-naked loser singing the praises of his straight-from-the-freezer stuffed-crust pizza, only to be interrupted by his rightfully mortified wife- "the delivery guy didn't see you like that, did he?" More recently, we've seen a commercial featuring a guy and his friends watching a football game in the back yard. The guy calls inside the house and talks to his wife as if she's the local pizza place- she ultimately responds by turning the sprinklers on the jerkwad. Disfunctional families are ALWAYS funny, aren't they?

This most recent one might just represent the low point for the good people at DiGiorno, however. At a dinner party in what looks like a very upscale penthouse apartment, the host inexplicably prepares to present his guests with a pizza which, we are shown, is so heavy with toppings that when it's placed on the coffee table, the floor under the table collapses, dropping floor, table and pizza directly into the apartment below. The whole destructive mess lands neatly in front of two guys doing what two guys are always doing in apartments- sitting on a couch, staring straight ahead.

Please, save your questions until after class.

Totally nonplussed, the two guys instantly pick up slices of the pizza which has magically appeared before them, ignoring the pleadings of the pizza's owner, who is far more concerned about gettting his eight-dollar hors'deurves back than he is about the lease-smashing structural damage he's just inflicted on two apartments. Nor is the former owner of the pizza at all concerned that anyone has been hurt. Nor is he concerned that his guests have apparently only narrowly avoided death by either A) not happening to stand at the place where years of mold rot have given the floor the strength of a soggy graham cracker or B) collectively weighing less than a DiGiorno's pizza. Nope, he just wants his damned pizza back.

Ok, I get it. This is supposed to be a fun, exaggerated illustration of how superawesomely massive DiGiorno's pizza is. It doesn't work because the situtation is just TOO bizarre. the claim is just TOO overblown and, most of all, because I've eaten DiGiornio pizza and know that while as frozen pizzas go it's not half bad, if you can be tricked into thinking it's Delivery, you really need to stop ordering from Domino's.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Flo-TV throws down the gauntlet

I was beginning to think that the makers of cell phones were going to be left to ravage society and destroy its last vestiges of decency all by themselves. I was beginning to think that when nothing was left of our civilization but a smoking crater, the vampires from Verizon, AT&T and Apple would be standing over our shattered remains, sharing the credit for the ruination of all that was once Good and Pure.

But then, I was blindsided by the sudden re-emergence of an almost-forgotten old-timer in the Hate Brigade, Television. It seems that TV has decided to invade the realm of the cell phone and take back some of the territory it once called exclusively its own. There's a New/Old Kid on the Block, and it's name is Flo-TV.

We see a very nice-looking, young mother of two handing her sweet little boy a glass of milk at the kitchen table, and giving her equally sweet-looking little girl a head rub. Suddenly she notices the time and realizes that hubby is about to come home from work (10:30 in the morning? Whatever...) and she turns into a modern version of Joan Crawford, knocking the glass of milk right into her son's face, dashing the toys on the kitchen table everywhere, and dumping a bag of flour over her kids. The look on her face tells us that she's roughly thirty seconds from dragging these kids to the bathtub and pulling an Andrea Yates.

Hubby walks in- suit, tie, briefcase (again, home from work at 10:30 AM.....sorry, I have a fixation on this.) He stops short and looks at the carnage.

"I just need an hour" moans his lunatic wife.

Next thing, we see Mommy Dearest sitting alone in a park, yelling "Oh Come ON!" at a little screen in her hand- a Flo-TV unit which is displaying a football game (Ok, so it's the West Coast, which would explain why there's a football game on in the morning. But that also means it's Saturday or Sunday, so why was hubby coming home from....oh, never mind.)

The hate just keeps coming, doesn't it? This woman has to scare her family and trash her kitchen-- to justify getting an hour to herself with a television? We've become so horrified by the thought of sharing space with people that we now need to run out and buy $249 television units and pay $14.95 per month to watch programs we can watch for a fraction of the cost in our living rooms (oh but ewww, there might be other people there...) The concept of "alone time" now means "time to watch television?" Wow, we've really advanced since the age of "TV dinners" and other excuses to sit in front of the boob tube, haven't we? Now we can take the tv with us- if only we can convince our spouses that we are on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

(Hopefully, Daddy will be spending that hour reassuring his children that while Mommy is sick, she's going to be getting help, and no matter how horrible she acts or how clearly she hates them, it's Not Their Fault. And now it's time to pack and take a fun trip to Grandma's house for an extended stay, because we love Grandma's house, don't we?)

(Ok, so on the fourth viewing, I now see that it's not 10:30, it's 5:50. That makes more sense. Doesn't explain the blazing sunlight streaming into the kitchen, though- or the fact that his woman then spends the next hour sitting outside in the sun.)

So take that, cell phone companies!! You aren't going to be allowed to destroy society all by yourselves after all! The glowing box that's been part of every American household since the 1950s is back and ready to take you on!

It's your move! I know you won't let me down.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Only in your dreams, Toyota

How big and exciting is Toyota's latest new car deal? Why, its so exciting that Toyota has decided to recycle a commercial from last year which features a crowd of escaped lunatics knocking each other down as they race madly through a Showroom in a desperate attempt to claim "their" Toyota.

Here's a guy splayed all over the hood of a perfectly average-looking Corolla. Here's another clown, perhaps well-respected in his place of employ where his coworkers don't realize he's an insane ass incredibly susceptible to lame marketing gimmicks, entering his choice of vehicle via sunroof. Here's a woman hurling herself through the (unfortunately) open driver's side window of what looks to be a Tercel (seriously, though, what difference does it make? It's a Toyota) and then locking the door to prevent anyone else from "disputing her claim." I doubt that the Oklahoma Land Rush featured as much crazed mayhem.

At the close of the commercial, we see a single poor slob standing in the now-empty showroom, weakly raising a hand and announcing "um, I didn't get one?" A burly, "this is way too easy" salesman steps up and gives him a re-assuring touch on the shoulder. "We've got more" he confides, using his thumb to point off-screen (my guess is that he's pointing outside, to the dealership's lot. Why do I figure this? Well, maybe it's because that's where 99% of the cars offered for sale by every auto dealership in the United States can be found. )

This commercial features a theme which is all-too-standard in car ads: the drooling, way-too-eager customer whose only real concern is availability. We see these smiling, jumping-up-and-down-as-if-they-really-dropped-in-just-to-use-the-restroom doofuses leaping into cars and seeking out salesmen as if they aren't really the least bit interested in monthly payments and interest rates, just where they sign their names so they can drive off with their shiny new autos. None of the customers depicted resemble anyone I know, or anyone I've ever seen at a dealership, or anyone I would want to count as a friend, or anyone I wouldn't disown as a relative. Only in commercials are people thrilled out of their minds at the prospect of buying a car, and in constant terror that this month's "big sale" will "pass them by." The sensible people I know wouldn't think of walking into a dealership with anything more than a "I'm just looking, and may buy at a future date" attitude. Because nobody I know enjoys paying more than they need to.

And in the age of 10% unemployment (actually more like 17% if you count those who have simply stopped looking, or whose benefits have lapsed) there's something just a little gauche about showing starry-eyed morons knocking each other over to plant their flags on Toyotas.

If the way cars are purchased on television bore any resemblence to the way they are purchased in real life, I'd quit teaching and apply for a sales position tomorrow. Because it looks like the easiest job on Earth.