Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Geico Jumps into the Racism Pool

Look, I'm not the kind of person who screams "Racism" every five minutes, or walks around with a massive chip on his shoulder and blood in his eye, waiting to take offense at everything and anything, just looking for a excuse to feel slighted so I can spout off at some imagined insult.

But every once in a while, Racism just reaches out and slaps me across the face.  In more than 700 posts in the past three years, I've commented on it maybe four or five times.  It always draws a crowd to this site, and stirs an argument- my post on State Farm's "Perfect Girlfriend/Perfect Boyfriend" commercial has drawn more than 8500 hits and 37 responses to date.  I'm not trying to stir anything up here, but damn it, I have to call them the way I see them.

There are several of these stupid Geico "taste test" ads out there nowadays.  In one, a pregnant woman happily consumes an unknown, unidentified liquid handed to her by an anonymous dullard in the middle of a mall (this one really astounds me- would  a pregnant woman really do this?  Without even asking the ingredients of the strange liquid? Really?)

But this particular episode in Geico's latest ad campaign really annoys me. Someone please explain to me why the black guy is transformed from a perfectly articulate, sensible-sounding consumer into a dribbling idiot incapable of expressing his distaste for the "Brand X insurance" by using a vocabulary he demonstrated moments before drinking whatever mystery liquid he was offered.  Someone tell me that while the willing dupes in every other ad maintained the power of speech after being told that Geico was the better bargain, this guy can only manage to coo some stupid, juvenile noise- what the hell is this, anyway?

I'll tell you what it is.  It's Fail on an Epic scale.   The black guy can't speak after drinking the "wrong insurance" because it's "funny" to see "those" people acting like clowns for our entertainment.  If this commercial went on another minute, I think we might see this guy break into a tap dance.  Maybe juggle. Because "they" are so silly AND musical, you know.

Come on, Geico.   I didn't think it was possible for you to sink lower than Cavemen, stupid talking lizards, or stacks of bills with eyes glued to them.  Actually, I didn't imagine you'd even try.  But you manage to pull it off with this commercial, which just makes me cringe and lunge for the remote whenever it comes on.


  1. Oh. Yeah. Stepin Fetchit of the 21st century. I'd have rather they explained what the GEI means instead.

  2. Racism: The belief that ones race is genetically superior to others.

    This is a very grave term which applies only to people such as Adolf Hitler and Margaret Sanger. However, the term has been (sadly) diluted to refer to Racial Bigotry. I will assume this is the context which you used.

    In reality, every detail of the finished commercial is not necessarily in the script. I rather doubt that the script refered to the taste-tester as "black guy". I don't think anyone cared what "race" the guy was. The guy who showed up and could do the part best(in as much as Best could be used to describe this nonsense) happened to be black, that's all.

  3. "This is a very grave term which applies only to people such as Adolf Hitler and Margaret Sanger."

    Do you mean that unless one wants to exterminate a race of people through murder or abortion, that person is not a racist? Really?

    I'll stand by my take on this ad. In every other "taste test" commercial, featuring non-blacks, the "consumer" uses his/her vocabulary to express his/her opinion. In this one, the guy just squeals. This suggests to me that the people who made this ad believe that blacks are inferior to whites, and can therefore be presented as silly, inarticulate children. I have a problem with that, you don't. That's fine.

  4. You're confusing racism with plagiarism.

    The second I experienced this foul smelling pile of déjà vu, I instantly recalled an old YouTube video. You know the one where the African American TV newscaster laughs in the exact manner after an embarrassing live report?

    Did the Geico ad executives not believe somebody would seize on that? Were they beaten with stupid sticks as children? Their spurious brain cells are obviously too cretinous to even bother and change the race and sex of the person.

    This fake frosting of pilfered plagiarism also conceals a pound cake dating from the Pepsi challenge era. How in hell does Geico reckon their insurance tastes better? I'm waiting for Progressive to counter the ad with a "true" test that demonstrates less haggling with an insurance company. Perhaps, one that doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth following a collision?

    But lets focus back on Geico's lack of spontaneous brilliance, shall we?. I'll dispense an infinitesimal amount of my genuine imagination to help these idiots out with a "believably absurd" taste test.

    Suppose we're selling synthetic motor oil. In one fell swoop, we cover all the bases by including a handful of backyard mechanics from both sexes and various demographics. Our study group really knows taste as they naturally flavor their moonshine with twigs, June bugs and grasshoppers. We fabricate two cups from beer cans that contain regular and synthetic oil. Following our "scientific" taste analysis, we interview the testers. The women claim the synthetic oil tastes "light and dreamy," the men "smooth and slippery," the religious person "sinfully close to godliness," etc... Since the viewer is familiar with one of those descriptions of taste, synthetic oil must be superior to regular oil. Hell, even I would be convinced if I saw a commercial like that, but oh, how I digress.

    Regardless, Geico's real slogan should be "We're so desperate to get you insured, even a cave man can get it."

  5. I don't think they honestly care what "race" this guy is. Find the script. If it says "black man",then I do indeed have a problem with it. I think that this is just another product of a post-racial America; not only can blacks become president, they can be the idiot Geico commercial's star.

    P.S. Racist is believing that your race is superior on a biological level (think "less evolved"). Attacks on intellegence fall under bigotry.

  6. As far as I can tell, the commercials are real.

    "Someone please explain to me why the black guy is transformed from a perfectly articulate, sensible-sounding consumer into a dribbling idiot…"

    Because he tasted something really bad.

    When we're confronted with deeply visceral reactions like that, they tend to bypass our analytical mind and go straight to the brainstem. That's why if I blindfolded you and told you to describe what you're feeling, if I ran silk over the back of your neck you'd probably say something like, "It's soft... kind of tickles..." and if I banged your finger with a hammer, instead of saying, "Well, it's sort of a really painful throbbing, not sharp like a pinprick, but still very intense," you'd probably instead simply yell, "Ah, fuck!" Regardless of how articulate you'd just been moments before.

    P.S: Yes, I think a pregnant woman would do that. There is an reasonable expectation that one is not getting toxic sludge when being invited to take a taste test at an upscale shopping mall (and also that it's not alcoholic). The venue, as well as signing media release forms, etc. confers an air of legitimacy giving one little cause for alarm. HFCS aside, how dangerous for your fœtus can a couple cups of fruit punch be?

    On a vaguely related note, there was some show on PBS (BBC?) where they were showing how hard it is to get something that smells horrible to everyone. I wonder if it was similarly difficult to get something that would be universally considered disgusting for the taste test.

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