Monday, March 23, 2009

Are You Following Me, Camera Guy?

Screw all the philosophical crap, below. I want to talk about advertising!
Have you seen commercials? They're everywhere.
On TV, the radio, the highway, the movie theater, automobile bumpers, guitar cases, the backs of cereal boxes, the dentist's office, the Cleo Awards, pro sports, little league sports, yearbooks, Christmas, the little woman with the cups and toothpicks by the end cap . . .

. . . not to mention comedy.

Yes, professional or amateur, comedy is laced with commercials. How does this happen? Well, first, somebody makes a shitty commercial, like this.
Then, this happens.

It's easy comedy. I mean, the inspiration is bad enough that we've been making fun of it without the coercion of comic aid, already. Now, however, we don't only have a possibly new perspective from which to laugh at the advertisement . . . we've also got a secondary reference, so we're even more sure to remember the product forever. The worst part is that the comedy resulting from a commercial parody is usually sub-par, overly derivative and really dated.

Am I saying that comics are in some sort of crazy cahoot-riddled conspiracy with ad agencies? They might be, but I'm not saying so. But I am saying that you don't have to be Larry The Cable Guy to figure out that the same people who write those "hilarious"Geico commercials probably watch the same sketch comedy shows, online videos and movies that you do. So, it wouldn't be so ridiculous to say that some of these commercial geniuses are banking on their product being parodied by comedians you follow, further lubricating the membrane between your brain and a product placement implant.

So, around the same time that I'm realizing there's way too many Sham Wow parodies on Youtube, I see this commercial on cable television. I'm sure anyone in the developed world is familiar with the Vince Offer character and his current 15 minutes of immorality. Maybe you've even got your own Vince Offer impression. Well, believe you me, he's onto you! He's on to everybody.
Maybe he had it planned from the beginning. His fake-ish Boston accent coupled with his carny eyes and cellphone kiosk polo shirt could have all been part of a decisive scheme to be parodied; comically immortalising the products he sells and his personality as a television salesman. Maybe. Or, maybe, he was just savvy enough to realize the pot of gold dancing in front of his lazy eyes. Either way, we've apparently snagged his barbed hook on our respective scrotums and labia and eagerly tugged the line.
There have been some serious Youtube videos, like this'n, about the Sham Wow ads, but most of those are just as hard to take seriously as their subject matter.
Most of these homemade parodies, however, are like the videos I've taken the time to link and list, below:

Youtube Poop is a sublime and simple phenomenon and I think they always serve to make the best parodies.

Other, more structured Youtube videos are annoying and obviously made by college students who think they have well defined comical sensibilities, because they "lol" at Flight of the Conchords.

Others are amalgamations of clever amateur editing, a good eye and a taste for tedium.

Vince's latest commercial, for the Slap Chop, was seemingly made for parodies both Youtube and otherwise. The name of the product is funnier than "Sham Wow". Slap Chop sounds like a throw-away Bobby Lee character from the worst of Mad TV. On top of the funny name, the commercial is laden with awkward hijinks, like working "bikini" into a rhyme scheme with "linguine". He throws a competitor's product into the sink garbage disposal. He drops a bomb with "You're gonna love my nuts." The man may look a little - let's admit it - retarded, but he isn't naïve. The bastard knows kids are gonna laugh when they're told that they'll, somehow, derive enjoyment from his testicles . . . even if there's a really strong argument that said kids are taking his words far out of the realm of intended context. There's simply too many awkward and funny moments in this ad for me to explain and there's far too many for it to be unintentional.

Well, I say the game stops now. Right here.
I want you to close the Youtube tabs in your web browsers. I want you to get up from your computers. Find a window; open it. Open your window and yell out of it. I want you to scream at the top of your lungs "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna play dumb anymore!"
We're not gonna give Vince Offer any more of our time, or our minds, or our hearts.
We're not going to give any more of these advertisers the backhanded affirmation they're looking to get from our half-cynical senses of humor!
We're not going to give these bastards the time of day!
Yeah, that's right, Mr. Cash for Gold and Mrs. Tiddy Bear, we're on to your game and we're not going to play anymore.
No more jokes, in the office.
No more SNL sketches.
No more witty references on "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!"
No more tongue-in cheek "Daily Show" comments.
No more animated .gif files posted on our friends' Myspace profiles.
No more Youtube videos.
No more blogs . . .

. . . shit

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess.

This blog post is brought to you by Youtube's Slap Chop Remix and has been posted in loving memory of Willard Scott, America's first and greatest commercial clown.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

F(ucked)U(p) B(eyond) A(ll) R(esponsibility)

I was gonna do a really cool blog post, a while back, but never got around to it. It was gonna be all to the point and shit.
Like, "Don't tell me the economy is shit, when the bank parking lots are plowed better than the streets."
But the snow is melted, now, and my hard drive is still inoperable.
Anyway . . .
So, like, I'm sitting on the couch, with my mother and the local news interrupts. The primary annoyance of what was on my screen was the simple fact that it wasn't a local story. I don't live in West Virginia. The secondary annoyance was the bigger one.
Read this story. It's short.
Right when I thought people were done using the word "hero" in any other context than referencing summer blockbusters and video games with gaudy, guitar-shaped controllers . . .
Man, I seriously thought 9-11 burned people out on the whole "hero" thing.
Nobody accepts the title, and we love them for it.
If they accept the title, they're probably an asshole.
How passive aggressive do we have to be? There's far more simple and less media-involved ways to test whether or not somebody has a shred of artificial humility, aren't there? That's a rhetorical question?

But, I suppose, in the current political/economic climate, it makes perfect sense to start calling people heroes.
We Americans hate doing shit.
We'd rather sign away our sanity than take responsibility for anything. We celebrate victimhood and the entitlement that comes with it, like it's a year long holiday. Fuck me, we've got a goddamn cable channel dedicated to it. The bitch even comes with a sexually insulting name, to help the victimization along:

And, why not?
Victimhood is like a self-loading absolution gun with a studded dildo pistol grip. It's a get out of jail free card that comes with a special clause that lets you use your favorite Monopoly piece every time! I could metaphor the shit out of it, until I sounded like a southern politician.

This kind of almost uniquely Western mentality makes the title of "hero" ideal to throw around like semen in the White House swimming pool. I mean, if you call a Regular Jo, who's "Just doing my job" or "what I expect anybody else would have done", it opens the window that you've been looking for, since your parents made you give that dog you never took care of away; run-of-the-mill responsibility is fucking extraordinary!
So, we've arrived at a mob consensus that dictates if anybody is caught being a Good Samaritan, or doing anything that requires serious effort, they're a hero. Sure as hell exempts the rest of us mortals from having to do that shit. We can sit around and not even look like assholes, because that five percent of us that have the will to effect something are so goddamn heroic.
Maybe we should make a TV movie about those guys.
Nah. You're right. I'd rather keep watching Lifetime, too.

Jerk a hero off as hard as you want. In the end, you're still just sucking your own dick for having the cleverness to avoid doing anything.

Man, I hate The News.