Monday, June 28, 2010
Here's another episode in The Adventures of Awesome Parenting. Soon To Be Obese Brat is happily chowing down on lard-laced faux food- this time, it's "'Chef" Boyardee's Big Ravioli. He thinks it's crap (and he's right) but it tastes good, so who cares?
Dad comes in and does a "bad" thing, trying to tell his son that hey, that mystery meat he loves not only has a full day's supply of fat and salt, but it also contains an entire SERVING of vegetables. Mom is mortified- if Son realizes that sometimes vegetables taste good, he might- umm, what exactly? Become more open-minded about eating vegetables? Can't have that!
So mom witlessly whacks away at the pots and pans in order to drown out the word " vegetables." Oh, the hilarity. Son will be spared the knowledge that "vegetable" does not necessarily mean "yucky," and he'll finish his lunch thinking mom is a freaking lunatic who likes to remind daddy that he has no business talking to her son about anything, especially nutrition.
After all, if dad was encouraged to do a little research, he might discover that the "serving of vegetables" hardly evens out the fact that this stuff is basically poison, and encouraging your kids to lie quietly on the couch and eat Cheez-Its every weekend would be only slightly less neglectful than serving this rubbish. He might start to ask mommy questions like "how did our kid get control of the family menu so completely that the word 'vegetable' is now verboten in MY HOUSE?" or "We obviously have plenty of money- can't we do better than a $2 can of tomatoey sludge for the guy who is going to carry on our family name?" or "Umm...shouldn't we be teaching our child to appreciate fruits and vegetables instead of catering to his childish prejudices- I mean, don't we have some responsibility here beyond making sure he has clothes and a place to sleep?" or "Is this why you insist on being a Stay At Home Mom? Because you were afraid the Daycare would spoil our son with celery sticks, carrots and yogurt?"
Better watch it, dad- Mommy is pretty handy with those pots and pans, though obviously she doesn't use them much for cooking.
Or maybe I've got Mom all wrong- maybe she's afraid that if her son finds out that Big Canned Ravioli is even remotely good for him, he'll demand it at every meal. "Hey, I want my VEGETABLES, Mommy! Get the can opener!" Then all she'll be able to look forward to is seeing Her Precious One on The Biggest Loser in a decade or so. By then, Dad will have snapped under the pressure of Mom's oppression, filed for divorce, and started life anew with a sane woman.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Can I just take a moment to note how much I hate the idea of people having so much damned money that they would choose to have something like this installed in their home? I mean, Jesus, how many thousands of dollars does this gluttonous monstrosity cost? Does it come with a yard sign which reads "the inhabitants of this suburban castle have one of those room-sized showers which allow the user to personalize the water temperature and pressure, so feel free to allow your dog to despoil this lawn?" "The residents found within can be seen in commercials bitching about brokerage fees- feel free to 'brokerage' a window as you pass by?"
"The middle-aged self-satisfied jackasses living inside are delighted with the recent comments of Rand Paul and certainly hope that the Unemployed of the United States get off their lazy asses and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, like their grandparents did?" Although you know, it's funny but in none of the dozen or so Horatio Alger books I've read has the hard-working, frank, honest and dutiful boy risen from the ranks to achieve such a pointless symbol of conspicuous consumption.
BTW, are we really supposed to feel any empathy for these pigs when they realize that the Kohler guy tested the installation by showering? They look mortified at the thought that their beautiful new bathroom has been defiled by one of the great unwashed (no pun intended.)
I suppose that if I just worked a little harder, maybe I could afford to convert half of my living space into a fricking shower. If I wanted to, and if I could first afford to have my social conscience surgically removed. Because commercials like this make MTV's Teen Cribs almost palatable. Almost.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I actually love commercials like this- completely amateurish, featuring people without the slightest hint of acting ability, unabashedly cheesy and apparently proud of it. I'm only including it as a This Commercial Sucks post so I can express my disdain for the dangerous, irresponsible idiots who have to resort to buying auto insurance from a service called simply "The General."
Nice young couple cooperate with a balding stereotype of a car salesman to create a High School Production skit entitled "buying a car." When the word "action!" is barked offstage, car salesman pretends to shuffle Paperwork Important in the Purchasing of an Automobile and announces "all I need now is proof of insurance."
Because this is the year 2010, cute girl (who is apparently cute guy's secretary) pulls out a mini-laptop so that her boss-boyfriend-child groom can "get a quote from 'The General.'" Ok then.
We learn that The General sells auto insurance, and can sign you up regardless of how many times you've slammed your car into trees, fence posts, mail boxes, other cars or human beings, how many times you've been caught speeding, driving on the median, or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, or how old you are. Apparently The General has seen too much carnage in his life to judge you based on a few minor points like other insurance companies do. And for a down payment "as low as $59" (the small print reads that the average down payment is $125) you can get insurance with "low monthly payments." Wow, how convenient. Just like Rent-A-Center.
Except....hmmm. Down Payment? Is that subtracted from your monthly bill until it's paid down? "Low Monthly Payments?" Who pays their car insurance monthly? Oh yeah- the kind of people who have to make a down payment and buy insurance from a cartoon character dressed like Patton who drives around in a convertible with a penguin. The kind of people who can't buy insurance from an established company.
Still- who wouldn't want a quote from The General? Look what it did for Rolling Stone.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here's the second of two annoying new Kraft Macaroni and Cheese commercials, this one featuring the new "Homestyle" recipe which is supposed to appeal not to kids who can be excused for eating what their parents put in front of them and choosing favorite foods based on taste alone, but on adults who really ought to know better. I mean, really- eventually, most people realize that it's a good idea to brush your teeth even though your mom isn't there to make you anymore, regular bathing is important even if no one is dragging you to the tub, and making fatty garbage part of your regular diet is a mistake even if no one is watching and you are buying the "food" with your own money.
Oh, and putting bread crumbs on garbage and baking it doesn't make it less garbage, or more healthy. For the record, a "serving" of prepared Kraft Mac n' Cheese (one cup!) has 400 calories, 29% of the RDA for sodium, 19 grams of fat, and virtually no fiber. Bad enough for an adult, even worse for kids still developing the concept of "comfort food." Way to model good eating habits, idiots.
As for the commercial itself: Just like the previous one, this ad features an inattentive mom gabbing away on the phone in the background. Just like the previous one, it features a "precocious" little girl- this one is trying really, really hard to be a young Christina Ricci- muttering vague threats into the camera. This time, however, Dad isn't the target of the kid's venom. Dad doesn't even make an appearance- maybe he's already been wished into the cornfield. Mom's the one making the icky baked mac and cheese, yet she escapes blame, as the kid prefers to attack Kraft itself. Wednesday Addams's little missive is completed with a rather odd "as an eight-year old without any assets of my own and totally dependent on my parents for support, I'm warning you" declaration and a "please, Hollywood, can't you see I'm perfect for Casper II" eyebrow twitch.
I won't even comment on "Whatever happened to Cheesesaurus Rex, I loved that guy!" because I have no f--ing idea what the hell this girl is talking about. My guess is that she's referring to some lame ad campaign which fizzled out quite some time ago, when the makers of Kraft Mac and Cheese suddenly remembered who actually buys their product- adults with no cooking skills or common sense, and parents with no time or sense of responsibility or taste.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
This is the first of two posts I’ll be providing looking at Kraft’s new “precocious kids v. parents” ad campaign. They are pretty similar, but also different enough to deserve two posts- besides, it’s June and it’s hot and my summer vacation (I’m a High School teacher) is getting underway and I’ve got two weddings to attend in the next two weekends, so I’ll take easy gigs where I can get them...
In this ad, we return to the theme which is to ad agencies the bread and butter of the industry- overly intelligent, mouthy little brat and fat doofus slob dad. It’s SO familiar, in fact, that we “get it” before any words are spoken- there’s the kid facing the camera with way-too-serious look on her face. In the background, there’s dad hovering over a pot of simmering Heart Attack holding a wooden spoon. What comes next could NOT be more predictable (and no, that isn’t a challenge, ad agencies.)
Like all tv children, this one is thoroughly disgusted with her father, who can’t stop adding his personal spittle to the family dinner by constantly dipping the germ factory ladle into the pot of orange “cheese” and macaroni. Like all tv fathers, he’s a fat slob who has no idea he’s being panned by his offspring.
The final line- “dad, you’re embarrassing yourself” is a little more harsh than usual for these “let’s pick on the fat male in the room” ads, but not shockingly so. But here’s what I find particularly unsettling– just a few years ago, this could have been shrugged off as a “kid saying out loud what she’s thinking” slice of life. Today, it’s entirely possible that this little creep has activated her laptop’s camera and is filming the next episode of “My Fat Disgusting Father” for YouTube, and that dad really is embarrassing himself- in front of the whole, voyeristic, insane “privacy? what’s that?” modern world.
All that being said- that’s one nasty little creep you’re raising there, Dad. Time to have the “Daddy makes the money, Daddy buys the Mac and Cheese, Daddy skims off the top and is nice enough to share what’s left with Daughter” talk. And fast.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Where to start?
1. This commercial features rank sexism. I mean, there is simply no way that an ad agency could sell a commercial featuring a good-looking guy ogling a prospective female employee, wondering if she's got both the "experience" and "energy" to "do the job." This guy is being assessed like a piece of meat- the interviewer isn't even asking him any questions.
2. This commercial features rank ageism. We are supposed to assume that this interviewer is perfectly comfortable with the idea of rejecting the white-haired guy because- well, eww, he's like, old. I mean, who wants grampa hanging around the office eight hours a day, even if he can "do the job?" Has Just for Men ever heard of these annoying things called Age Discrimination Laws?
I suppose we should be grateful that the good people at Just for Men at least had the good sense to cut out the last few seconds of the original ad, in which the slimy interviewer with the hot legs takes her New Hire by the arm and leads him away cooing "I've got big plans for you." Again- See Objection No. 1. This would not fly if the sexes of these two people were reversed. Not for one minute. Because this isn't the 1950s, and this isn't a commercial for Ad Men.
We should also be grateful that at least this ad doesn't include a cameo by Keith "Home Run!" Hernandez or Jerome "Your Beard is Weird" Bettis. Very grateful. But still- why does Just for Men insist on insulting our intelligence like this?
It's the 21st century, people. Ready when you are.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
There are a lot of these eTrade "baby" commercials, and they are all truly hideous. First, they suck because they appeal to the lowest common denominator in the audience- the drooling, knuckle-dragging morons who who type "LOL" and "Ths is HLARIOUS!" in the comment section on Youtube. Yes, babies whose movements are manipulated by removing and re-arranging frames and whose "speech" is provided by off-camera narrators is just SO F--ING FUNNY OHMIGOD LOL, if you are A) drunk or B) under thirteen years old, that is.
Second, they suck because of what they are selling. "The eTrade computer triggered my stop losses, saving me a pantload?" What the hell? Most of the people in this country live with a NEGATIVE savings rate. That means that Stagnant Wages + Rising Prices = Using your credit card just to keep your head above water. Showing us babies yakking about "stop losses" and "managing investment portfolios" just doesn't sit very well these days. Like the obnoxious little twerps who can't stop bitching about broker's fees over at Schwab ("Ask Chuck") there's nothing especially appealing about the thought of kids who still need their diapers changed pushing their excess money around with their laptops- while "catching the Red Eye after a bachelor party," no less. Damn, I hope that plane slams into a mountain -- or at least, hits enough turbulence to knock this little prick's milk glass all over his computer.
Heck, I'd settle for another bubble bursting all over his portfolio.
There will be a lot more of these ads, because there are a LOT of people out there who will never, ever use the service being advertised, but just love the babies and (OMIGD DID YOU HEAR THAT?) the "funny" lines given to them. Twenty years after Look Who's Talking, this crap still sells. Because a lot of people are still really, really stupid.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
What's the most amusing aspect of this commercial? Is it the fact that
A) it features a creepy, lovesick stalker who doesn't seem the least perturbed that the Object of his Obsession doesn't know he exists ("she's my destiny...she just doesn't know it yet...) or
B) that creepy, lovesick stalker has created a Shrine to his Beloved on the internet, or
C) that creep, lovesick stalker is willing to share his obsession with the world by creating a NASCAR tribute to his "Soul Mate?" or
D) That Toyota feels it necessary to provide us with a full-camera shot of creepy, lovesick stalker's late-model SUV (Jesus, what is this kid, sixteen? My sympathy for this loser, never very high, just fell off the chart)?
E) That in the end, Toyota feels it necessary to let us know that the object of this kid's fixation doesn't even know his name? Ha ha, what is more hilarious than unrequited love, after all?
Maybe Toyota thinks this is "funny" because it's familiar- we've all been through what the "star" of this commercial is going through. But being "familiar" is not the same as being "amusing." It's not funny that this kid longs for this girl- it's sad. It's not funny that he spends a great deal of his life collecting photos of his imagined "soul mate"- it's pathetic, and more than a little disturbing.
And again- what's with the SUV shot? Pardon me if I don't give a crap about this kid's "problems"- he's driving a 2010 Toyota SUV to school. Whatever his personal issues, I'm sure it's nothing that an updated cell phone and a summer in the Hamptons can't cure.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Sigh. Man of the House sits on the couch watching The Game with his close friends (VERY close friends- jesus, they might as well be sitting on each other's laps. Maybe the couch needs to be moved farther away from the tv?)
Double sigh. Woman of the House- you know, the one that keeps the place from burning down, which it definitely would if she left the asshat man-child she legally locked herself into a relationship with in a moment of inexplicable delusion to his own devices for more than a few minutes- notices that the carpet is COVERED in muddy footprints. She's a regular Adrian Monk.
Her husband, and his friends, are eight years old. In other words, they are typical tv males.
"It was the pizza guy!" her child--err, life partner-- lies. He's backed up by his cub scout troop-errr, male friends from the neighborhood.
Desperately clinging to the hope that for all his clumsy, careless, childish cluelessness her husband MEANS well and at least would never LIE to her, Wife accepts his word. This is amusing to us, the viewers, because we know he IS lying.
Let's cut to the chase- moron husband left the pizza box on the table, revealing that there was no delivery guy, and in the final scene we see that he and his friends are on their hands and knees scrubbing the muddy footprints from the carpet while Wife eats the rest of the pizza and entertains herself by reading the box. Because women don't watch tv, I guess.
I've pretty much given up hope that the "Men are disgusting, clumsy morons" theme will ever be abandoned by our beloved ad agencies. I guess it's just too easy- Idiot man + smart, exasperated woman= commercial which writes itself. I just wish the people who make these commercials didn't feel the need to shovel the message down our throats. There could have been ONE muddy shoeprint, not two dozen. The box could have been found in the trash, not on the table.
I mean, give me something.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Sometimes, the snark just seems superfluous. Really, what else is there to say about this ad that isn't already right there on the screen? Here's a twenty-something ass who has clearly devoted a great deal of time running his finger around a keypad, and has become an "expert" at it. Now he's going to get some certificate from the good people at Guinness Book of World Records which says that until some 13-year old teenager takes his "crown," he's the fastest texter in the world. He no longer has to settle for having that reputation among his "friends." He no longer has to attempt to dazzle the people around him with his supercharged reflexes and hope that they notice (god knows he's not going to attract their attention by being interesting, witty, or worth paying notice to in any way.) Now he's got a certificate to wave in our faces- Look at Me, I can text really, really fast.
Here's my advice for this guy, free of charge:
Quick, contact the first grade teacher who told you that if you didn't settle down and pay attention during class, you'd be held back. Find the High School Guidance Counselor who told you that if you didn't put your phone away and concentrate on your studies, you'd never get that 2.0 GPA up, and you would be lucky to get into DeVry. Track down that girlfriend who dumped you when she got sick of you spending 90 percent of every date updating your twitter account at the speed of light. Let them know what you've accomplished here. Success is the best revenge, after all.
Above all, contact Mom and Dad and tell them that Their Son has made his mark in the world. No, he didn't get that job. No, he's not moving out of the basement quite yet. Yes, he's still going to need help making his car payments. But look how fast Their Son can text!
And to think that your parents wanted you to put the X-Box away before 2 AM on school nights. Shows what they knew about parenting, doesn't it?
I think that "award" from Guinness will look good next to the G.E.D., don't you?
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
It's epic! It's massive! It's Rosa, a dim bulb with a cute face and a phone who has been chosen to find out if those 800-plus losers who took five seconds to add their names to her "Social Network" (snigger, condescend) are really her "friends." Well, why the hell not, if it's on someone else's dime? It's not like Rosa has a lot going on with her life right now, right?
After all, with Rosa, it's all about her phone and the internet. Thank God, they've been combined- no more long nights stuck in front of the laptop, updating what isn't going on in Rosa's "Social Life" (cough-loser-cough) beyond leaving messages for other anonymous potatoes she's "met" online. Now Rosa can stare at a slightly smaller screen while she sits on buses, sits on trains, sits on park benches, sits in class, sits in her car narrowly avoiding sideswiping me as I was just trying to get to work, dammit-- all the while gazing at the 21st century's version of the Idiot Box. Good for you, Rosa.
And now she's off to actually meet the carbon-based life forms she's been aimlessly texting as the years of her youth have flown by. And finding disappointment. Eww, this one wants me to come to his condo to watch some documentary. Eww, this one doesn't respond to Rosa's "aren't I as hot as the picture I posted for every sexual predator on the planet to see?" query with the enthusiasm Rosa has come to expect from her largely imaginary "friends."
Bottom line- the end result of Rosa's Epic, Massive Journey of Personal Discovery is the confirmation of her theory that people are basically smelly, obnoxious, fat little lumps of sweaty paste who really ought to be experienced through screenames and tweets, not in the flesh. Online, "friends" are always there for you- God Knows they are never without their phones, and thanks to Kin, this means that they'll never be offline, ever. In 3D (the thought is actually quite frightening, don't you think?) "friends" are way too real, and talking to them face to face is awkward, confusing, and more than a little icky. As Rosa might put it, its just eww lol. I mean, you know how hard it is to just sign off on someone when they are sitting across the table from you?
I'm pretty sure that this is the real message of Kin- Cyber Friends are the only kind of friends to have. Real people suck. Rosa has learned his lesson, so you don't have to. Besides, just try to make 800 friends in the real world! I dare you!
I never thought I’d live to see advertisements for hard drugs. In this commercial for Acid, we see an adorable little cartoon family, clearly zoned out and defeated by life and more than willing to embrace the sweet release of death, suddenly cured of their ennui by dropping just a little of the magical hallucinogenic (I’m not sure I would actually encourage the taking of LSD while driving, but hey, that’s me. Call me a prude.)
Now look how happy everyone is- flying through the air, carrying huge sandwiches, dancing with gyrating gas pumps, landing on toilets. I mean, this makes the imagery of The Yellow Submarine look subtle. The makers of this ad leave no doubt- Acid is simply awesome, and the world will look so much better, so much greener, so much more pale-yellowish than you ever dreamed possible once you’ve consumed some. Yes, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was forty years ago- but the promise, the possibility, the dream lives on.
What? This commercial isn’t about the joy of doing hard drugs? Come on. What else could it be about?
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Every year, I spend the first week in June in Louisville Kentucky, grading Advanced Placement history exam essays. I also manage to see a few things highlighted in this Ad- Fourth Street Live is across the street from my hotel and the Kentucky Convention Center, where I spend eight hours a day for six days with 1200 other teachers grading, is connected by a walkway. The Louisville Slugger museum and factory is pretty cool. The water park down by the Ohio River is fun, especially since it's usually in the low-90s each day I'm there. And I go to pretty much every Bats game scheduled during my "working vacation"- this year, I'll get to watch them take on the Pawtucket Red Sox four times, which will be great.
I guess this ad was made before the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, which highlights Lincoln's youth in a series of statues and plaques. Too bad, because that's one of my favorite spots in this nice little town.
And yes, Louisville does feature some of the more mundane things shown in this commercial- women walking down the street yakking on their cell phones. And fat people. Lots and lots of fat people. Heavy, greasy food is popular in Louisville. At the Bats game, you can get a basket of ribs and fried chicken sitting on a pile of french fries for $9.95. I don't know you eat that when it's humid and tipping 90 degrees, but I've seen people do it. And wash it all down with a milkshake.
I got a chance to go out to Churchill Downs my first year, just so I could say I did, and drank a mint julep. Not really worth a return trip because I don't know anything about horseracing. The Muhammad Ali Cultural Center is interesting though, and I had a beer at a small tavern once patronized by Charles Dickens and which was the site of a duel between two Civil War generals.
The waterfront is the best feature of this town- beautiful running paths, parks, and views of real steamboats moving up and down the Ohio River. It should get more attention in this ad.
Anyway, this is where I will be until the 9th, which explains why there won't be any new posts until then. See you all when I get back!
Kayaking! Deserts! Motorcycles! Deserts! Rafting! Deserts! Swimming! Golf! Come to Utah, where it's possible to cram some activity into every moment of your day in a panicked rush! Where whatever you are doing will hold your interest for such a short period of time, you'll feel compelled to call out "what's next?" before dad's VISA transaction has been approved. Are these people on speed, or what?
Seriously- "what's next?" Why not just have the actors mutter "Now What?" It means the same thing, Utah Department of Tourism. While it appears that these people are having a good time, it's also clear that what looks fun on tv gets old really, really fast. It's fun to jump off a boat into a pristine lake ringed by ancient rock formations- once or twice. It's fun to drive an ATV around in the desert- for about five minutes. It's fun to play golf- but we can do this in the other forty-nine states, too.
And the underlying message woven into pretty much every scene is- Come to Utah, We Have Lots of Big Orange Rocks. And tourists with ADD.
No, not the idea that anyone would WANT to use a big screen TV to "twitter, access YouTube, or update your Facebook" ( wasn't anyone paying attention to the All-Wise Betty White on SNL? Facebook is a huge waste of time, people!!
No, not that an alleged grown-up and co-head of household can find no way to express his "amazement" than to repeat the word "boom."
No, here's the unbelievably depressing part- that this guy knew that even though his two children and wife were within ten feet of the living room, all three would have their eyes and attention fixed on a little glowing screen, and that his best chance of distracting them long enough to notice that the "family" has purchased a shiny new toy was to "tweet" them.
That even beats out the fact that none of these people- NONE- show even the smallest of vocabularies. All they can do is grunt with pleasure at the bigger version of what they were already looking at before the big, older guy who bought this junk pulled them away from their "social networking" (gag, please- there's nothing "social" about typing messages, ok? Go out and talk to people face to face, spuds-for-brains!)
But on second thought, it may not beat out this little nugget- now the entire family gets to watch as Little Brother updates his Facebook account instead of doing his homework. Except- we see that each member of the family already has access to all these "services" already. What is the POINT of being able to do this on your tv, unless you are a friendless loser with your own apartment and no actual social life beyond the imaginary one you built with the help of Fios?
Don’t you just love it when you see an ad which should include a little disclaimer at the beginning: “if you aren’t one of the Gray Flannel Suit set, running around like ants to feed some insatiable money monster in the hopes that some of the money you push around might end up in your pocket, ignore the following message?”
I mean, what the hell is going on in this commercial? Assuming that these people are equals in whatever bloodsucking corporation they shuffle papers for (it’s a big, heartless corporation dedicated to the fundamental principles of Uber-Capitalism, that’s all we know- and we only know that because these two figures are emerging from a row of Grecian columns that would do the Parthenon proud,) why did one employee know about the “problem” with the “effective tax rate” while the other was left in the dark? Not only has the female employee here heard all about the problem, she also knows that it caused some guy named “Reilly” to hit the roof, that the solution- “bringing in BPO”- has already been agreed on, and that “the partners” are already “on it.”
“People who know...trust BPO.” And the people who DON’T know what the hell this is supposed to be selling? None of our damned business, I guess. I do think it’s funny that this guy’s contribution to the conversation is to mutter “good” at the conclusion- as if anyone really wants his opinion on the subject, whatever the hell it was. Problem discovered, problem discussed, and problem solved without your input, Mr. Widget. See how important you are to the firm? Feel more secure in your job now?