Stop It, Commercials

From the Director of “Raging Bull” Comes ABSOLUTE NONSENSE

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on September 19, 2011

Fashion commercials are inherently ridiculous. Models are not actors, they are physical ideals. They are fortunate faces and crafted bodies. They are eyes that have to speak, because the mouth rarely can. Forcing models to play-act borders on cruel, so the shots are kept simple and cinematic, literally moving pictures: always lovely, rarely connected.

Now throw in one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and a French actor whose one American credit is a forgotten “Silence of the Lambs” prequel, and watch shit get holy shit enraging.

This commercial, apparently released a year ago but just now getting major airplay, stars Gaspard Ulliel (A Very Long Engagement, Hannibal Rising) and was directed by Martin Scorcese (you don’t need credits, because its THE GODDAMN MARTIN SCORCESE). Along with the commercial, there’s a 4-part YouTube series on the making of this commercial. It’s mostly Ulliel struggling to express himself in English, making obvious and inane statements about whatever location they were shooting at (particularly inspired is his joy at shooting on a subway, of all things). Scorcese never even acknowledges the making-of camera, and might have been filmed without his knowledge or consent.

Apparently, Chanel thought they had an event on their hands. They’ve got a recognizable actor (in France) and a world-class director. Essentially, they’ve got the same winning formula of Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal.” Chanel relied exclusively on pedigree.

Now, the commercial. Famous guy is at a press conference for …something. He gets asked a question by an old flame that he struggles to answer. In his struggle, he starts flashing back on his life. When asked if he’d like the question rephrased, he makes an unconnected statement, the walls collapse, and he leaves.

What the hell is going on??

Who is he? What has he done? Why is there a press conference? How did this girl get in? What question did she ask? How does “I’m not going to be the person I’m expected to be anymore” answer anything? If she’s so important, then why does the room fall apart and he just walk away?

Not one of these questions are answered at all. It’s opaque garbage, and at the end of the day, all you’ve got is the same as any goddamn fashion commercial that didn’t drag out Gaspard Ulliel and Martin Fucking Scorcese: pretty pictures strung together. Glamour. Style. Charisma. This was directed by a man whose career is built on redefining genres (boxing movies, gangster movies, concert films), but he was brought in to be Martin Scorcese pointing a camera at things.

Ralph Lauren gets commercials. The Polo commercials, with the same ultra-handsome gent doing stuff you’ll never do like play polo, go yachting, or reasonably wear driving gloves, played over swelling, orchestral music. These commercials are arrogant as fuck, but who gives a shit? Anyone who has bought clothes know how clothes advertising works. Anyone who has ever tried to manipulate their image and surroundings through style knows what works and how it works (whether consciously or unconsciously). Chanel may have shot for the moon here, but it was with a sawed-off shotgun in the middle of a crowded street. This commercial is loud, abrasive, unnecessary, and doomed to fail.

Unless Chanel sells way too much Bleu, in which case fuck whatever I say, I guess. Maybe it smells good, I don’t know. The commercial is full of shit, is what I’m saying.

There is No Joy, but for Persistent Fear

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on July 18, 2011

If you live in Southern California, or anywhere within reach of Universal Studios Hollywood, then perhaps you have been inundated by this crime:

Based on this spot, “intensity” is an industry buzzword for “severe emotional trauma.” When grandpa wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, the family will know by the terror in his voice mixed with him choking on his tears that he was remembering this one time at the amusement park.

“Why does grandpa always scream?”
“Just nightmares, sweetie. He sees a gorilla whenever he closes his eyes.”
“Did grandpa go on safari?”
“No, he went to Hollywood.”

Bam. Got ’em.

Seriously, is the allure supposed to be, “Come to Universal Studios Hollywood, see this attraction and spend the rest of your waking days in a consuming fear”? They flew way past the idea of an attraction being thrilling in a fun way and instead landed on selling a need for severe medication and countless hours of therapy.

Even apart from the core idea, this commercial is grating. First, no one wants to hear a monotonous sound for 30 seconds. It pisses people off, plain and simple. Make any noise and extended it for half-a-minute and see how quickly anyone around you gets put off. Hell, even a world-class singer holding a note for 30 seconds would, at the very least, cause any listener to check out. That is why professional musicians do lilts and change tones, because that’s how music works.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

See? Even written, it’s fucking stupid.

Also, the morphing. The Uncanny Valley exists and it is pure and simple. If someone falls into the valley, no one else will be satisfied. The realism this morph goes through is also thoroughly unsettling. Not only does he lose his hair, he grows all sorts of wrinkles and liver spots, clearly designed by someone  who was bent on showing the inevitability and misery of impending age.

And why does the hair have to float off?? Could there be any more details to remind us of death??

So come to Universal Studios Hollywood, kids, and leave thinking about when death will finally reach out to you. Soon enough, you’ll be begging for it, as every night, your brain is on fire from the horror that has enveloped your entire being and consumes every rational and productive thought that tries to break through the wall of your damaged psyche. Just off the 101 at Buddy Holly Drive.

“Fuck everything about stupid people!”

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on May 11, 2011

This just about sums it up.

Aw, Dammit to Hell, Government!

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on February 19, 2011

There they go again, those bastard politicians. Detached, unaware, alien creatures floating in the abyss that is Government, dictating our lives. They aren’t fascist, they aren’t socialist; they are just fucking assholes.

This ethnically non-descript lady agrees.

I mean for Cup of Christ’s sake, look at her cart! Pineapples and fruit and vegetables and shit! LET HER BUY SODA. SHE JUST WANTS THE FUCKING SODA. And flavored water, what the hell??? I was a child once, and flavored water was there.

Case. Fucking. Closed.

Everything I do is perfect and must not be taxed. This lady’s anger is similar to mine, meaning I’m right. Remember that time they tried to tax tanning?? Fucking police state! If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

I know this woman. She lives down the street or has kids or something. The point is she looks familiar. Hell, I bet she attends town hall meetings and says things, things that might be on the news. She might have been on the news! And she might be black, so I’m obviously cool with that since I agree with her. GOD EVERYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH ME IS A FUCKING DICK.

Follow this lady’s example: attack any politician you see. If you ask them questions, you win, game over. Politicians aren’t used to strangers talking to them, so be a stranger and talk to them! They’ll get all uncomfortable and mealy and you have won democracy. You can’t spell “self-righteousness” without “right.”

2nd Annual Super Bowl Commercial Round-Up

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on February 7, 2011

Super Bowl commercials have a power. As the most expensive advertising spots in the history of the planet, produced for one of the largest television audiences, this power can be summed up in “I’m only watching for the commercials.” People treat these spots as legitimate entertainment, as signifiers for the state of our consumer culture. These ads are not only bell-weathers for what the masses are buying but who these masses are or perceive themselves to be.

This year’s standouts, for better or for worse, were from companies with multiple spots. Let me begin by mentioning my easiest punching bag, beer commercials. I have to give credit, these commercials were not the atrocities one would expect. “Here We Go” is still a terrible slogan from Bud Light, and the one where the director stumbles upon the idea of product placement (because we apparently live in a world where “product placement” is a wonderful insider secret) was annoying. However, I gave props to a later Bud Light spot where a dog-sitter hosts a party and employs the dogs, because dogs doing things is funny.

Before we get to the winner and loser, some stray observations:

Worst line: “Babe, don’t hurt my dog.” Brought to you by Doritos.

Roseanne got hit by a log in a Snicker’s spot. Is this funny? I’m legitimately uncertain.

People thought Groupon was mocking Tibet. This might have been true if the commercial made an ounce of goddamn sense.

GoDaddy.com: still awful.

“Cram it in the Boot”: FUCKING WHAT

 

 

Honorable mention for this year goes to Volkswagen, with two charming spots (“Darth Vader Kid” and “Beetle”) that were clever, well-made, and entertaining. However, they lose points, because they had hardly anything to do with the products. “Darth Vader Kid” could have been done with any car that ever had keyless entry. Plus, people pull that type of shit on their cats, so it’s weird doing that to a child.

 

And now, the winner of the year: Bridgestone.

Last year, Bridgestone, on the whole, was terrible. The commercials were aggravating and not nearly as clever as they thought they were (everytime a fake Aussie says, “I said ‘life,’ not ‘wife’!”, a new cancer cell becomes aggressive.) This year, however, was incredibly redeeming, particularly this spot:

I see tires doing their job. I see relevance. I see a coherent, but brief, story. I see an anthropomorphized beaver. I see a good commercial. It was entertaining while selling the product, and it also made sense. More on that coming.

 

Here’s your loser, followed by the expected litany of offenses:

What was that? Antiquated sexism?? How refreshing! Ladies like marriage and kids and The One! Dudes like sex! These are all they think about. No one talks on dates, they just have telepathic conversations, I guess.

In addition to the lazy stereotypes, this commercial loses for two larger reasons:

1) Pepsi Max was one of the stand-out series, becoming progressively awful as the game went on. It started with an irritating commercial where a nagging girlfriend attacks her boyfriend’s standard of living, because women or whatever. The next one featured a guy getting hit in the crotch as pretty much the only punchline to a joke that was hardly even there.

Then there was this clunker appearing toward the end of the game. The production value looks like something like 5-hour Energy was behind it, not one of the largest corporations in the history of the planet. This could have been made in my basement an hour before the Super Bowl with me phoning in direction from my day job, but no. This was made by PepsiCo, and featured some of the worst combination of writing and acting this side of a middle school one-act festival. If I was on a date with a woman who with every unspoken thought made a different face, I’d think less about sleeping with her and more if she were having a stroke.

 

2) This commercial was representative of a problem experienced by way too many spots this year: it didn’t make any sense at all. A lot of commercials threw things together and declared them spots that were clever, when they were really just perplexing, like the Wendy’s spot where a guy is hit in the face because he asks about a sandwich or the aforementioned Groupon ad which mentioned Tibet’s crisis, because, you know.

But this one right was downright incoherent. It was so baffling, even one of the characters was confused. The Pepsi Max comes to the table, because one of them ordered a can of Pepsi Max, apparently? The guy seems surprised by the requested drink, and thinks about how he wants one. The girl then responds (mentally) that he doesn’t have a chance, and the guy, like the audience, has no idea what she’s referring to. Can she hear his thoughts? He responds like she can. And is she responding the to Max or the desire for sex? But more importantly, CAN SHE HEAR HIS THOUGHTS?? Are they telepaths? Is that the gimmick?? There’s a gimmick somewhere.

 

The double-whammy of incoherence and idiocy makes Pepsi Max the WORST OF THE YEAR.

Brief Update (lest anyone give a shit)

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on February 7, 2011

Updates have been few and far-between lately for two reasons:

1) I have other occupations which require more immediate attention.

2) I’ve not been watching nearly as much TV, and as such see less commercials, and as such see less commercials that I hate. Honestly, the only things that consistently piss me off are those persistent Miller Lite “Look at the dude doing something effeminate! The hot bartender makes fun of him and denies him a better-tasting beer!” spots. DO NOT WORRY: those commercials are still despicable, but formulaic. I’ve already attacked the formula.

That said, there will be an update today for the 2nd Annual Super Bowl Commercial Round-Up. Due to work obligations, I was only able to watch the second half of the game last night, so I missed most of the major commercials. I’ll be watching them on Hulu (something that’s becoming part of the tradition, though I have electricity this time), and get back to you.

Again, assuming anyone cares.

PANDERING: America invented it (and everything else, too)

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on November 17, 2010

The recent elections showed us all some shocking realities, not the least of which is this: people vote during elections.

The recent elections showed us all some vastly exaggerated possibilities: every single person in this country fits in the box labeled “Republican” (some go in the corner of that box labeled “Tea Party”). The walls of this box are built of various bits American iconography and certain typically-conservative ideals.

Upon discovering this box, ad agencies did what they’ve always done: sold shit to that box!

First is a relatively old commercial for something called CTIA (a trade group that represents practically all brands of wireless communication):

Get it? It’s an American song. Statue of Liberty. Red, White, and Blue. Children. Pilgrims. Blah fuckity blah blah.

This commercial combines the aforementioned pandering with another topic touched upon in previous posts: “We know what you do.” You post pictures online. And videos. And you search on the internet. CTIA made a collage of all these glorified mundanities into a lazy reference to American ideals. Not to mention how some of the YouTube videos featured represent the vanity and manipulation that plague self-production (as seen in the woman clearly filming herself singing and the children in simple Thanksgiving garb look off to the side to make sure they’re singing to the camera correctly, respectively).

This is freedom, apparently.

Oh, so is this:

Sweet Lincoln, do I hate this fucking commercial.

I hate discussing politics, since they are personal and mine often clash with others (ultimately, I just want to be left alone and not told what is good for me). However, this commercial made itself political. Oops, it was accidentally released in an election year when a large chunk of the voting public adopt typically American icons as their own (one of the biggest issues during the election was “the Constitution”) and make themselves a noticeable faction of the population.

To top it off, the Dodge Charger is a repeat offender. Remember that Super Bowl commercial that listed all the things that “women” want “men” to do and that “men” agree to do? It was a Dodge Charger commercial. The message was that since men suffer through women (who clearly do not understand suffering), this loud, dickish car is their birth right.

George Washington driving a Dodge Charger with a 13-star flag, taking down the British is a pathetic appeal to people who shamelessly use the term “Obamacare” (almost as annoying as people mocking Bush with the word-he-never-used, “Strategery”). Cars and freedom. Fuck you.

I’m sorry for the nature of this post, but I cannot express my anger for commercials like these. They are unclever comments on the state of society, attacking individuality in ways good advertisers strive to avoid. It’s like the old “Simpson’s” bit:

“Abortions for all!”

“Boo!”

“Okay… abortions for none!”

“Boo!”

“Fine. Abortions for some, tiny American flags for others!”

“Hooray!”

Additionally, they are guilt-trips. If you do not respond to the iconography this car represents, you’re a goddamn traitor. If you don’t support the Dodge Charger, you’re stabbing your country in your back. “Us vs. Them” should not be used as a fucking sales tactic, so stop supporting it.

Beer commercials attack intellect, social liberties (again)

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on November 11, 2010

It’s been several months since we’ve updated, but as football season has come back into full swing, there are new commercials that have staked their claim and deserve destruction.

Let’s return to a favorite target: fuckin’ beer commercials.

It must be clarified: we at Stop It, Commercials do not hate beer. We rather enjoy beer, in fact. For the most part, we don’t even discriminate against the beers mentioned here (though they are rarely a first choice; there are equally inexpensive beers that treat their drinkers with class instead of contempt, such as Yuengling or Sam Adams). However, if they continue making commercials like this, it starts becoming clear that with every pitcher bought, there is a haunting echo of derisive laughter floating along the wind.

This is not the only spot of this kind, there is a series. Nor is this the only awful one (in some ways, to be fair, it’s one of the least awful ones). However, it exemplifies the whole gamut of intellectual crimes being done by beer advertisers.

These commercials are disasters for multiple reasons:

In each spot, the bartender is a traditionally sexy woman with enough cleavage to require ropes and carabiners. The women all behave cruelly toward their customers as if they don’t work for tips. They emasculate a man-boy who doesn’t care about how his beer tastes (none of these people would give a shit, but when the question is, “Would you like the beer that tastes better?”, no one would realistically say, “No.”). This is sexism, people. It’s thinly veiled sexism. Essentially, the woman acts like a man and calls the man a pussy (you can’t say “pussy” on TV; you can, however, say “woman”). The implication is that anyone, regardless of gender, who acts like a woman is inferior. Women are cool, so long as they behave like a dude.

This particular spot was chosen, because it has a different element. Look at everyone. The mama’s boy, the mama, the friends, the bartender. See a trend? While you’re just as unlikely to find a black person in any of the other spots, this is pathetic damage control. They’re diverse, because there’s black people. There’s no integration, but there are black people. The rest are all white, but people get angry when there are not black people. Let’s get a bunch of black people together! Black quota, served!

This commerical, and this string of commercials as a whole, embrace antiquated notions of discrimination through a modern eye. But no matter how much you Febreze it, bullshit is still bullshit.

Dumb one!

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on April 6, 2010

So you know how people are assholes?

I opted to use this commercial as an example instead of the more ubiquitous one featuring Stevie Wonder having super powers and mysteriously hanging out with Tracy Morgan, because it hones on the major issue with this campaign:

The punch-buggy game is annoying as all fuck.

We all know the person who loves this game. It’s the same person who laughs at their own jokes, and laughs at them loudly to make passersby think that more than one person is laughing, ergo everyone’s having the best damn time in the world. Except no one is. Except the person punching someone and laughing. Hint: don’t punch back. In your irritation, you will punch them way too hard and their outlandish amusement will shift to pitiful anger faster than a bipolar pregnant woman.

It’s clear why Volkswagen is pushing this game. It’s been Volkswagen’s M.O. for generations: we’re the car of the people (hell, it’s in the fucking name). People do play this game, focusing in on our cars, so why not make money off of it?

It’s also dumbshit of them. It’s an unfortunate side effect of Volkswagens, not a selling point. It’s like Grey Goose Vodka showing a static shot of a toilet dripping with fresh, liquid vomit, proclaiming “Another great night brought to you by Grey Goose!”

Additionally, as pointed out by the person who suggested* I write on this commercial**, VW gets the fucking game wrong. You punch when you see a Bug, hence “punch-buggy.” If you punch for every Volkswagen on the road, you’re not just a jerk, you’re a stupid jerk.

*Thanks to Nick Philpott for suggesting this one.

**A note on suggestions: I’m more than happy to take them. There are a lot of commercials out there, many of which are disastrous, and I can’t possibly watch as much TV as I’d need to in order to give them all justice (amount of money from this website: none; amount of money from job: more than none. Job wins), so please, if you hate a commercial, send it my way. I can’t promise I’ll write on it, though. This isn’t to say your commercial isn’t awful, but usually to say I can’t articulate what isn’t working with the commercial. Or I can’t find the video on YouTube, some bullshit like that.

Disgusting Commercials

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on March 27, 2010

Today, we’ve got a three-fer going – three supremely foul commercials that stimulate the gag reflexes more than anything monetary. I mean, I guess I can pay in vomit. Would I make that compromise?

First, something repellent both in subject and in style:

This commercial successfully combines the grotesque realities of aging with the celebratory candor of tampon ads. For that matter, it’s about time I bring up a daytime cable mainstay like this one. I mention this to acknowledge that the commercial is clearly not aimed at my demographic. Still, do they have to be so proud of solving their denture troubles? Personally, I’d take more pride in growing new teeth. The point is, of course, SeaBond replaces gummy, awkward paste, which is fine. However, they’ve taken that simple message and dipped it in the Early Bird special at the public golf course. As a member of a younger generation, I feel like I am forced to visit and endure advice about women delivered with abrasive elderly irony more suited for 7-year-olds.

Next is another ad frequenting cable as of late, infecting it with a type of misery you can almost taste and smell, like driving past two skunks fucking.

Of the three I’m looking at today, this is the most disgusting, possibly the most disgusting 30 seconds I’ve experienced on television (remember about 10 years ago when late at night, TLC would show graphic sex ed programs featuring live birth? This commercial makes me want to eat that for dinner.) Everything is horrific. Everything. Look at the asshole drinking the carbonated energy drink. I want to punch that jacket. I want to fight it in a fucking alleyway. The up-coming belch is so dead-on, the stakes are so high that it goes beyond showing what it wants to show and instead evokes sense memories. I watch this commercial and remember the deep-seated burps that might actually (God forbid) be puke sneaking its way out in a loud mouth-splosion. And then, to top it off, he goes from being someone people no one imagine themselves as to being the type of wretched slob people pray nightly they are not. Here’s the motherfucker of the commercial: 5-Hour Energy is a good product. Damn good. It ain’t a cup of coffee, but if you need that sort of clear-headed bump, take the fucking shot. You’re getting an energy drink anyways, might as well get this one that tastes less like devil semen. But one thing 5-Hour Energy has in common with all energy drinks: It’s got holy-fucking-shit-God air! Bitches what?? Inhale a shot of anything, be it whiskey, chocolate milk, or glue, and you are going to burp. Not the sphincter-clenching burp the commercial shows, but a burp all the same. 5-Hour Energy just told you a lie. A disgusting, hate-inducing lie.

Finally, a newer, classier one for the Primetime crowd:

While not as foul as its predecessors, it follows trend with the 5-Hour Energy commercial in that it made things so much more unpleasant than necessary. “So many things your hands can do,” apparently all of which involve dipping your hands in straight-up gook and swirling them around. These hands aren’t just dirty – they are caked in the sort of uncomfortable muck that drive some people to tears. These are things that don’t come off easily, that clog drains when they do come off, and are awful in general. Let’s play out a scene:

“Ugh. I’ve been bathing my hands in rubber cement for like 4 hours now. Apart from the fully crusted layer on the skin, there’s a good pound of wet stuff on the outside. How dreadful! Better wash ’em. Ah! A faucet I don’t have to touch with my hands. Thank God this remarkable mess only goes up to my wrists (like all remarkable messes of the degree shown.) Fuck! Fuck it fuck! Hot! How do you change the temperature?? Jesus! Goddammit, there’s no pressure either!”

Enter someone else, hours later, finding the first person adhered securely to multiple surfaces, sobbing uncontrollably.

Also, as my mom pointed out, “Our sink can turn on with no hands; just use your elbow like that to lift the lever.”

These commercials know how disgusting they are and do not need the likes of me to tell them. They meant for them to be like that, to demonstrate that with their product, these disgusting problems are no more. No more sticky paste; no more digestive discomfort; no more messing up the sink with messy hands. The major problem with these commercials is how far over the fence they hit these fouls. They wanted me to relate to feeling gassy when I drink energy drinks, but instead made me feel like a fart that refuses to come out. Watching these commercials should not be visual equivalent of heart burn and I should not be rushing to the bathroom, laying my face on the cool tile next to the toilet, waiting for the misery to pass.

Let me also reiterate, just to make it nothing short of crystal: I would love nothing more than to set that jacket on fire and beat that man with the flaming pile of crap he wasted segments of his life to own. I would then douse the jacket with stagnant water, extinguishing the fire. The jacket will beg for sweet, sweet death and will be summarily denied. Fuck. That. Jacket.