Sunday, August 29, 2010

Useful Idiots

I guess that here in the good old U.S. of A., there is an unlimited supply of people willing to pretend they don't know they are being filmed for "Hyundai Uncensored" commercials, cluck like chickens for Klondike Bars, or sing "Five Dollar Foot Longs," as long as there is TV face time and a few bucks involved. But you'd like to think that there is some limit to what people will say for a few seconds of fame and a little pocket money.

Apparently, there simply isn't. Because here is yet another in a long line of obnoxious, manipulative, bullshit ads paid for by the multi-billionaires over at the American Petroleum Institute, Proud Sponsors of your next local Tea Party and a major reason why we are hardly closer to a green economy now than we were thirty years ago, when President Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House and asked us to wear sweaters instead of bumping up the home thermostat.

Congress is considering billions in new energy taxes? API to the rescue, determined to preserve and protect it's God-given right to massive profits in the most American of ways- by purchasing Congressmen for large sums of money and everyday clueless slobs with far, far less.

Congress may let the Bush Tax Cuts- architect of the awesome economy we have right now- expire? Well, that' a tax INCREASE (if you make more than $250,000 a year), and how dare you imply that the people who most benefit from paved roads, libraries, police and fire departments, and a strong national defense pay more for those services? Better to invest money in commercials designed to convince the uneducated, fearful, easily-manipulated mouth breathers (I saw more than a handful of them at the National Mall yesterday, drinking in the words of their Lord, Savior and Financial Advisor, Glenn Beck) that THEIR taxes are about to go up. Far better to whip up the masses with the usual bleat "taxes bad, tax cuts good!" and herd them into the public square- or in front of the television camera- with ready-made signs and hats adorned with tea bags.
ANYTHING is better than to ask a small population of the super-wealthy to pay a slightly higher tax out of their unbelievably colossal profits. I mean, what is this, Russia?

But back to the idiots who populate this particular ad. Seriously, guys- have you no shame? Have you no souls? Have things really gotten so bad for you that you are willing to bleat BS off a cue card in order to get your bloated faces on tv and a few extra dollars in your pocket? Do you REALLY think that a slight increase in energy taxes is going to push the economy into the abyss?

Was there ever a time in your life when you valued your dignity at all? When you weren't for sale?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I think I'd rather see these people hitting each other

In a scene that will not remind you of Hill Street Blues, the chief of police warns his staff that the "Autobahn for All" promotion is underway again at your neighborhood Volkswagen dealer, so they'd better keep their eyes open, because people are going to be "driving crazy" in their incredibly mundane, cookie-cutter, looks-like-every-other car on the road German imports.

Ok, so what exactly is the message that Volkswagen is trying to sell us here?

That if you buy a Volkswagen, get ready to be profiled by your local police department as someone who "drives crazy" in it? Why would anyone want to drive a car which attracts negative attention of the police?

That is you buy a Volkswagen, you'll drive in a manner that police will think is "crazy?" Perhaps in a way that suggests that you don't get the whole "Closed Course" and Professional Driver" and "Do Not Attempt" disclaimer deal? Really? I've driven Volkswagens, and other than my 1974 Super Beetle, which kept me alert by freezing me to death in the winter and broiling me alive in the summer, the only emotion they've ever inspired in me is Boredom.

That the police in this ad are so sad, so depressingly dull, that they get excited over commercial clips featuring Volkswagens? I mean, come on- Volkswagens? Get out more, idiots.

And by idiots, I don't just mean the buffoons making a mockery of the Law Enforcement Profession by playing ADD-inflicted police officers in this advertisement. I also mean the people who created the ad. I don't know what the deal is over at Volkswagen's ad division, but it's nothing good. In the past year, you guys have tried a talking Beetle with a "German" accent making fun of Hybrids, a series of commercials featuring people yelling "black one!" and brutally hitting each other, and now "Autobahn for All," which is supposed to convince us that Volkswagens are wicked fun to own because you'll want to "drive crazy" in them, which will really piss off the cops, which is a good thing.

Anyone over there know what they are doing? Anyone at all?

Monday, August 23, 2010

This is just So Very Wrong

Ok, first of all, I can't be the only person out there who is thoroughly sick of the disgusting ageism displayed by these Just for Men ads. According to the makers of this crap, men who let their hair go naturally gray can pretty much give up any hope of dating, working, or getting laid, ever again. On the other hand, if you hide your gray hair, you are going to get dates, get great jobs handed to you by leggy women who "have big plans for you" (wink wink) and get lots and lots of sex.

Look at this commercial. The hot blonde, who apparently thinks it's the year 1955 and she's on an episode of the Andy Griffith Show, rings the doorbell and asks the unseen guy on the other end of the peephole if she can "borrow some milk." She's got an empty glass in her hand, which means that she either thinks this guy only lends out milk to people who can PROVE they are out, or he's got a cow in there and can give her a quick refill.

The slightly-gray idiot asks her to wait a moment- and proceeds to throw himself out the window. This part makes perfect sense to me- he's got gray hair, you see, and the moment the hot neighbor realizes it she's going to run away screaming, so he might as well just end it all now. Except, wait- he's not killing himself. He's going through preposterous, logic-bending lengths to hide his shame before handing over the milk.

The guy manages to get to a store, buy Just for Men Hair Coloring, get back to his apartment, color his hair, get the milk out of the fridge, and open the door before the neighbor notices that he's not responding to her "Is everything oks" or that it's been two hours since she first rang that doorbell. Hey, buddy- if she's this desperate to make eye contact with you, she's not going to care about those strands of silver in your hair, ok?

Naturally, the ad ends with the kind of nausea-inducing punchline that is the trademark of Just for Men- handing the neighbor her milk, the newly-presentable guy asks "anything else?" and gets a thoughtful lip-bite from Miss Patient-Desperate. Ugh. My guess is that we are supposed to imagine the girl jumping into the guy's arms at this point, turning this into a commercial for Axe.

My birthday is tomorrow. I'm going to be at an age when a LOT of men have gray hair. I don't have any. Know what else I don't have? Hot girls offering me jobs or showing up at my place of residence asking if they can "borrow some milk." Maybe it's just me. At least if I had gray hair, I'd have an excuse.

Thanks for nothing, Just for Men.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The High Price of Instant Gratification

I'm going to do something a little different with this clip, because it would be way too easy to snark on Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan shamelessly picking up a few extra dollars shilling for a company that preys on people with crappy or no credit. Instead, I'll note that Aikman and Hogan are really just the cute magician's assistants in an impressive act of Sleight of Hand- clearly, the viewer is supposed to be so distracted by the fact that a couple of washed-up familiar names are talking about Rent A Center to notice how truly horrible the "deal" being offered "for a limited time" is.

Rent A Center is so confident that you will keep your eyes on Aikman and Hogan that they feel perfectly safe in presenting the full financial details of the "deal" in not-so-very-small print for almost five full seconds on the screen. I'll do the work for you- you can rent this awesome 52 inch Sony HD TV for "only" $39.95 per week- that's the part these idiots keep shouting at us. What the little words on the screen tell you is that the television retails for $1599 (this is true, I confirmed it with a twenty-second Google search.) If you accept Rent A Center's "great offer," you'll shell out $4156 over the course of the contract if you want to own the television outright.

So you can save $39.95 per week and have enough money to buy the tv at retail in ten months, or you can rent at $39.95 per week for almost two years, and pay a markup of almost THREE HUNDRED PERCENT- but hey, if you rent, you get the television RIGHT NOW. Like Magic Johnson says in another ad, Rent A Center is all about getting you closer to your dreams, faster. Gag.

I'm going to wrap up this post by pasting a response I made more than a year ago to a question posed at the fine website It may sound rather cold, but I don't think anyone can honestly dispute the points I made in it. The question was "why do people feel justified in complaining about Rent A Center's policies?"

Robert- it's because people with crappy credit see no reason why they should be treated differently from people with good credit.

It's because some people think that saving money and doing without for a while is for suckers.

It's because some people think that they have a "right" to televisions and nice furniture and laptop computers- and they have a "right" to these things at low cost.

It's because some people think that just because they signed a contract and agreed to a payment schedule doesn't mean that they should be held to that payment schedule- and if they are, the people holding them to their agreements are "harassing" them.

It's because some people think it's UNFAIR that just because they have a bad track record in paying their debts, no one will give them a chance to default on MORE debts.

In short, it's because some people are selfish, whiny idiots. Like the people who call Rent A Center a "ripoff."

Here's a clue: You don't need any of the things you rent from Rent A Center. You WANT them, you don't NEED them. If you don't want to make the payments, don't walk into the store and sign the paper. It's really very simple.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Will the people who drive this die amidst thunderous applause?

Here's a quick question: Why do cars need names? They aren't people. Are we supposed to think of them as pets?

Ok, I can buy the name Jeep "Wrangler." Nothing particularly offensive about it, just stupid. But Jeep "Cherokee?" What gives Jeep the right to use the name of an indigenous people? Are we going to see a "Jeep Irish" or "Jeep Chinese" someday? I doubt it. So why is "Jeep Cherokee" ok?

Oh, but then it gets worse, in my opinion. "Jeep Liberty?" What does buying a Jeep have to do with Liberty? I mean, besides the fact that Jeep Owners can pretend that they are rushing med supplies to a MASH unit instead of dashing over to Seven-Eleven for a Heat Lamp Dog during halftime (helps to have a "Support the Troops" bumper sticker, I imagine?) And "Jeep Patriot?" Seriously- "Patriot?" It's bad enough that an XM-Sirius radio channel featuring Mike Church, Mark Levine and Sean Hannity is called "Patriot Radio." Does that word mean anything anymore?

I understand that car companies are having a rough time of it these days- no, I'm not talking about depressed sales and competition from foreign manufacturers. I mean from cell phone companies, which create and market "new" products roughly every three days or so, each of which need to have a cool name like "Curve" and "Storm" and "Hero" (gag), all of which are subsequently no longer available for use with cars. I can't believe that we can't do better than "Cherokee," "Liberty," and "Patriot," though. How about "Waste," "Conspicuous," or "Poser?"

Actually, "Poser" sounds like the perfect name for a cell phone, too. Let's see who snatches it up first.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Why do you feel compelled to rationalize our relationship?"

Here's another one of those "funny" Miller Lite ads in which the guy becomes tongue-tied and hil-ARIOUSLY inarticulate when his Significant Other attempts to get him to use the word "Love" in a sentence without the adding the words "this beer."

This time, the beautiful, long-suffering You Wanted this Relationship, So Live With It female is sitting with the guy in some park which allows the consumption of alcohol when she springs the "Why do you love me?" trap. Unable to come up with a suitable answer that doesn't reveal that he clings to her for sex and beer, this clown naturally stumbles around for a bit, tries to mention something about her hair, and finally falls flat on his face by throwing the question back to her.

She's ready for this. She quickly replies "you're my soul mate."

He's frozen. He answers "ditto," which on the surface doesn't seem to please her- but she doesn't get up and walk away, and it's hard to imagine that his ends the relationship. Which means that, just like all the other women in all the other Miller Lite commercials, she's going to cling to her choad like a tic to a raccoon.

I have a better answer for this woman. Several, in fact:

1. "What the hell does that mean, I'm your soul mate?"

2. "You love me because I'm your 'soul mate?' Well, what makes me that? The fact that I can't tell you I love you back? Have you always had these self-esteem issues?"

3. "You love me because I'm your soul mate? Doesn't that mean 'I've decided that we are meant to be together, so I'd better love you, or live my life in sad misery with someone I don't love?"

4. "If I'm your soul mate, why do I need to respond to your bullshit questions at all? Pour me another beer, soul mate."

5. "Are you honest enough to admit that if I had said 'you're my soul mate' first, you would have called me on such a lame-ass, meaningless, cookie-cutter response?"

Any of these would be far better than "ditto." But then again, who am I to criticize an ugly, inarticulate doofus who has somehow landed a hot bubble-headed enabler willing to overlook Disinterest in Commitment because she thinks he's her "soul mate?" I raise my beer to you, sir.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It Says "don't forget to breathe, and there's drool running down your chin"

This commercial would work as a parody. Because it's clearly NOT a parody, it's just another episode in the natural progression of the cell phone from luxury to convenience to More Essential Than Your Lungs.

Everyone in this ad has settled comfortably into a life of consulting their phones for all of life's answers. Where do I turn now? I'll ask my phone. What should I eat for dinner? I'll check my phone. What would the person sitting next to me- across the fucking table from me- like to do next? I'll check my phone.

Let's all spend our entire "lives" staring at a little glowing screen, afraid to move without getting the OK signal from some electronic brain we'll never meet, but would probably have a more fulfilling relationship with than any of those icky humans who insist on interrupting our phone time every day. Oh, and let's start really early, too- wouldn't it be great if YOUR kid didn't wake you up in the middle of the night because she thought that there was a monster in her bedroom? Wouldn't it be great if she could just call a stranger and get comfort there?

What the hell is the matter with us? How did it come to this? I have a cell phone. I use it to call people, and occasionally text. I don't ask it questions. I don't use it to download videos, or directions. I don't subscribe to twitter accounts because I can't imagine wanting constant updates of anyone's life. I think it goes without saying that I don't Tweet.

I don't use my phone to check out restaurants before I go to dinner, to buy or change plane or train reservations, or to see which amusement park rides have the shorter lines. Somehow, I manage to get to where I want to go without checking my phone every fifteen seconds. If these commercials bear any resemblance to reality, I'm in the minority.

Because it sure seems as if we are raising a bunch of pumpkin-headed, helpless, social misfits who think that life is all about the battery-powered security blanket they can't put the fuck down. I just wonder what relationships these idiots are going to forge with actual people, what kind of basic skills will never be developed because they've been told for years that The Phone Knows All, and how long they will be able to bear to listen to that marble rattling around their empty skulls during those fleeting moments when they have No Coverage.

Is this supposed to be funny, or inspire anyone to buy phones? I think it's just depressing. What a sad, pathetic, self-absorbed pile of putrid rubbish we are becoming, thanks to crap like this. And to think, only a few short decades ago, someone called television our vast wasteland. That person could never have imagined the kind of brain rot offered by today's super-fast, Do Everything But Burp You cellular technology.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

While we are on the subject of offensive stereotypes....

Let's see- we've got African American males hitting each other, calling each other "Dawg," and encouraging each other to ogle African American women. We've got bug-eyed astonishment, greed, and lots of jumping around and screaming, especially by overweight African American women. We've got beautiful women being manipulative toward the men who are ogling them. We've got pratfalls and sexual innuendo and three-word sentences delivered in a dialect which I THINK is related to English and I'm sure is supposed to be hysterical. We've got an all-star cast of very wealthy African Americans who have absolutely no respect for other African Americans or for human beings in general throwing together what looks to be a total mess of a film designed to cater to pretty much EVERY negative image the moviegoing public (which is overwhelmingly white) has toward African Americans.

The result will no doubt be a mildly successful film which does nothing to move society any closer to a post-racial future, but DOES encourage black people to laugh at themselves and white people to laugh at them even harder. All while lining the pockets of a tiny group of African Americans and a larger group of Caucasians, both of which should be ashamed of themselves, if they were still capable of feeling shame.

Meanwhile, for a week or so at least, I have another reason to keep the remote very handy. Thanks for nothing, producers of Lottery Ticket.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How many offensive stereotypes can you count in this commercial?

I have to admit, I'm really at a loss to understand what this commercial is trying to tell me. First, this woman has the most ridiculously annoying voice I've ever heard- my bet is that she's not a Texan, probably not even a Southerner, but the ad guys thought that she did a right-good fake Texas drawl and that girl who starred in The Dukes of Hazzard Movie said No to more commercials for Cable or Cable-related products, so she'd do. So we've got the dumb blonde from Texas. Check.

Second, what's with the old guy. I get the creepy idea that she's supposed to be her husband- so we've got the dumb blonde from Texas who is also a golddigger. Check.

Third, "Troy Barkman?" Really? And he's been trained to hunt down Redskins stuff? Ok, I think we've got dumb blonde from Texas who is a golddigger and is intolerant of non-Cowboys fans. Check. Or maybe just Redskins fan. Or maybe she's just a jackass.

Fourth, what's with the old guy? Sorry, I guess this is kind of a fixation, but- what IS his deal? Is he supposed to be brain-dead, depressed, senile, or what? And what IS his relationship with crazy annoying Cowboys fan? Is this clear to anyone? Could you explain it to me?

Oh, and BTW, Cowboys fan- your team isn't winning anything with Tony Romo as your QB. Just letting you know now.

(I wanted to post on the NFL Direct Ticket Commercial featuring the asshat Packers fan who gave a cheese platter to her non-Packers neighbors, with the cheese slices arranged to form the words "DIRT BAG"- ah, the hilarity- but I couldn't find it. What bothered me most about THAT commercial was the idea that anyone in Wisconsin would actually purchase orange cheese. I'm from Vermont- the "other, smaller Wisconsin," according to MST3K- and I don't know anyone who would go near orange cheese. Pardon the digression.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

They're MY Eggs, and I want that Goose dead NOW!

What's the most obnoxious, depressing thing about this commercial for JG Wentworth, a company which apparently specializes in urging people to go ahead and kill that ol' golden goose and get all the eggs right now?

1. That the guy shown in the opening scene might as well be depicted as having a light bulb go off in his otherwise empty head, as a few words from the tv pitchman has him suddenly realizing that HEY, he's got a structured settlement, annuity or lottery winnings coming, and bills pending, so why shouldn't he have all that money RIGHT NOW?

2. That JG Wentworth has so little respect for it's potential customers that it needs to show us EIGHT morons behaving like brain-damaged contestants on Deal or No Deal, advertising their utter imbecility to the world by screaming "It's My Money, And I Want It Now!" at their innocent neighbors (and in one case, to the poor people stuck in traffic with Mr IQ.)

3. That there are really people out there willing to use JG Wentworth's "service," which involves receiving a one-time lump sum payment in exchange for scheduled future payments, because they are too damned pathetic to get their financial houses in order? I mean, these have got to be the same people who give away a large percentage of their tax refunds for the "convenience" of immediate payment, right?
How seriously stupid do you have to be to want to cash out for pennies on the dollar?

People so fucking greedy and impatient that they are downright EAGER to hand over a big chunk of money to get the rest a bit faster must have read only half the fable- when they get to the part where the guy says to himself "if I cut open the goose, I get all the eggs at once!" they closed the book and thought "yep, I'd do that too. Good plan!"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Exactly as I've always imagined it

If Lance Armstrong really had an office at Radio Shack headquarters, or anywhere else for that matter, what would it look like? I've had it pictured in my head for quite some time, and it looks as though Radio Shack actually invaded my mind to create this ad.

Of course there would be some fat, nerdish supplicant named Alfonse, jumping up whenever Lance barks to do his master's bidding. Of course Lance would be there, peddling away on his endless journey to nowhere- hell, it beats coming in 30th or whatever it was in this year's Tour de France. And most important of all, there would be several framed photographs of Mr Live Strong himself, captioned with one word slogans like "Determination" and "Courage" and "Inspiration" and "Perseverance." Because who wouldn't expect Lance Armstrong's office to be anything less than a shrine to Lance Armstrong?

What's funny is how honest this scene is. Mr Can't Get Out of the Way of his Own Ego wears his bicycle pants to "work" and bleats orders that have pretty much nothing to do with the land of cheap batteries and untrained, minimum-wage cashiers who must be thrilled that their employer, which just cut back on hours, decided to shovel some money into the bottomless Lance Armstrong money hole. Hey, at least they get a discount on those batteries, right?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

At last, a Junk Drawer that travels with you!

This commercial wins on so many levels. First, it provides a great example of my favorite infomercial cliche- the harried woman struggling to negotiate her way through a mass of disorganized papers. When I first saw the opening scene I thought it was going to be an ad for a debt consolidation scam, and was pleasantly surprised to find that nope, it's another "organize your life and then carry it with you wherever you go" product. Nothing but Fun.

So this woman quickly moves from the black and white, full of despair world of disorganized clutter to the magically sensible, "every tool has it's place," colorized world of the Wonder File. Wonder File, it seems, is a foldable file cabinet for every bill, receipt, book, magazine, lollypop or pack of gum you've ever wondered where you cut set aside and easily find later. Just stick it in one of the 38 or so pockets, fold it up, and away you go, with all that once hopelessly scattered crap now packed away in one convenient storage unit. Hooray!

Is it fun to use? Check out the faces of the people who bought Wonder File. Unless these people are recalling the absolutely incredible sex they had last night as they fold away their new toys, yes, this is a VERY fun product to use. I believe it- who wouldn't get a real kick out of owning a filing system which seems to defy the laws of physics themselves by allowing you to store fourteen pounds of material into a carry on which remains flat and light? I mean, this makes the makers of those Buxton Bags (sic)- you know, the ones that hold the contents of an entire living room in 16 different pockets- look like pikers when it comes to creating modern marvels of convenience.

Thank goodness for Wonder File. No home should be without at least two. Just pay extra shipping and handling, and your Closet in a Case will be on it's way. You'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Honest.

(Might I suggest "designer plaid" for the kids? I'm SURE it won't get them beat up at school. No way.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Keep Feeling Utter Boredom

I guess the theory at work here is that

A) ANY 80s tune works fine for ANY commercial for ANYTHING. This would explain why Kingsford Charcoal thought that it would be a good idea to use the completely forgettable "Facination" from the even more forgettable "Human League" in a commercial for carcinogen-spewing briquettes, and

B) The best way to illustrate the sleepy, carefree halcyon days of summer is to take that 80s tune and hand it to someone willing to slowwwwwwwwwww it waaayyyyyyyyyy dowwwwwwnnnnnnn, never mind that your audience is in danger of falling asleep before the fadeout.

What's the real goal here? To hypnotize us into buying charcoal? All this commercial did was make me wonder I where I could go to get those thirty seconds of my life back.

(BTW, check out the caption on the YouTube clip-- "you can't quite place it..." Um, seriously? Can't place "Facination?")

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A very accurate depiction of how cell phone addicts view the world

For smokers, the world is just one big ashtray. I just came back from a week at the beach, and lost count of how many jackasses felt perfectly comfortable blowing smoke in my face (and the faces of their children) before flicking their cancer sticks into the ocean or crushing them into the sand to be shared with the seagulls.

To witless, dim cell phone addicts, the world really is, or at least ought to be, one big signal tower, because GOD FUCKING FORBID you should EVER be without service, EVER. Here's what I saw on a crowded boardwalk as well as right next to the water (I kept hoping I'd see one drop into the ocean and get ruined, but dammit, no such luck:)

1. Countless numbers of beachgoers struggling to decipher what was on their little glowing screens through the sun glare. Naturally, whatever it was, it was waaaayyy too important to wait, because I saw at least one frustrated young woman actually burrow under her blanket to create shade.

2. An apparently infinite number of twentysomethings marching down the narrow sidewalk staring at their little phones, texting away, completely oblivious to the fact that there are other life forms on the planet who have not yet been trained to part the fucking waters as they rush relentlessly past. The sign must always say "Walk" while I text, I must always have all my bars, and obstacles in front of me must melt or fall away lest I be interrupted from my quality time with my best friend.

3. An absolutely SICKENING number of alleged adults with small children who apparently thought that they were having a lovely week at the beach with their phones, which would be perfect if only these damn kids weren't hanging around to keep asking to go for walks, build sandcastles, go swimming, and all those other annoyances kids throw at you when you are trying to stare at your phone. I suppose we've got a generation of kids growing up now who are getting used to being ignored by mom and dad, or at least having to compete for attention (and usually losing) with mommy's I Phone, but Jesus, people, why did you have kids if you weren't willing to put the fucking phones away and give them some of your attention during FAMILY VACATIONS?

(What am I thinking? A lot of these people weren't willing to give up smoking for their kids- they are going to give up their cell phones?)

But back to this commercial. All would be forgiven if only the girl sauntering down the street with her eyes glued to her phone ended up under the wheels of a transit bus. No one can tell me she wouldn't deserve it. And when her family is asked "how did she die?" it would be entirely accurate to respond "she O.D'd."