The other night, after staying up too late watching an episode of Rumbole of the Bailey on the Acorn channel on my Roku set-top box, I clicked over to the Vemo channel. Acorn is devoted to classic British TV series, such as the Poirot murder mysteries, Brideshead Revisited, Edward & Mrs. Simpson, and the aforementioned Rumbole, starring veteran British actor (and occasionally scenery devouring over-actor) Leo McKern in the eponymous role. Vevo is an entirely different channel, one that also has a large YouTube presence, as a repository for rock videos old and new. At the start of the week, while listening to Sirius-XM on headphones while working, I heard Aerosmith’s “Jaded” song from 2001 for the first time in ages, and Joe Perry’s riff, which sounds inspired by Jimmy Page’s sharp-suspended fourth riff on Led Zeppelin’s “Dancin’ Days” rapidly became an earwig, playing over and over in my head.
So I thought I’d check out the video for the song, since Vevo generally does a very good job with running the videos in HD with full-range audio. And really – who doesn’t conclude a segment from a 1978 Thames Television show about an aging British barrister by saying, “Well, now that I’ve seen Rumpole of the Bailey, it’s time for some classic Aerosmith!” But I’m me, and that’s how my brain works, after years of having been badly mutated through massive Chernobyl-level overdoses of pop culture.
While Vevo’s clips are free to watch, they’re often preceded by commercials for various products that sponsors believe would be appropriate for a rock video audience. However, in this case, the video was not preceded by a commercial, but by a public service announcement (PSA) designed to encourage young people to stop smoking.
Through the use of the most disgusting imagery possible.
The PSA began with a young man entering a convenience store and asking for a pack of cigarettes. Plunking a five dollar bill and his ID on the counter, he asks the clerk, “This enough?” Whereupon the clerk says, “Nope, there’s one more thing I need” – and proceeds to rip the customer’s front teeth out with a pair of pliers.
As James Lileks would say, pure 100 proof nightmare fuel.
Once the pliers came out, I averted my eyes until Steve and Joe and the boys began playing. I understand that not everyone realizes that excessive smoking can have injurious effects on a person’s dentition — and that Seinfeld is no longer on the air to remind them of this fact. At which point the juxtaposition was grimly hilarious, considering that Steve Tyler and Joe Perry used wear T-shirts in their rock videos describing themselves as “the Toxic Twins” – by the late 1970s and early ‘80s, before they went through maximum-strength rehab, puffs from a Marlboro 100 were by far the healthiest thing they were putting into their bodies.