Ahh, the “joys” of postmodern advertising — and shades of Jabba the Hutt getting frisky with Princess Leia. To understand why I’m inflicting the above Skittles ad on you, it’s only because I’ve been forced to sit through it as well.
I recently added Crackle to my Roku. (Now there’s a sentence that would have been meaningless a year or two ago). Crackle is the streaming video channel owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, and aside from offering selected streaming episodes of Seinfeld, it has a sort of lower-rent feel overall than Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. But in-between the video flotsam and jetsam is some somewhat interesting stuff — Crackle has some rock music-related shows that those other aforementioned video streaming channels lack, which I’ve been enjoying.
However, while Crackle is a free channel (again, unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime Video), the trade-off is having to watch commercials in the program, and not being able to fast-forward past them. They’re usually brief but, as with the example above, occasionally rather weird, bringing new meaning to Woody Allen’s Catskills-era “Boy the food here is terrible — and such small portions, too” riff from Annie Hall.
At Big Hollywood, John Nolte has also seen the above video and wonders why, as the Associated Press would say, everything is seemingly spinning out of control — and into, John believes, bestiality as an advertising device:
You can laugh and say it’s just a joke, but through a war of inches, Hollywood continues its assault to define deviancy down and to normalize destructive behavior. Humor is an excellent way to get us used to and to take the shock value out of something hideous and immoral.
If you don’t think there’s an agenda behind this, you haven’t been paying attention the last 40 years. And if you don’t think that there are those who hold the levers of power in our popular culture that would like to remove the stigma from bestiality, you don’t understand the depths of sexual depravity the human animal is capable of.
I used to laugh at loud at the term “slippery slope.”
Then I grew up.
I’m not sure how much the above ad is a slippery slope to bestiality, so much as an attempt to generate buzz and word of mouth through an ad as extremely weird as their would-be Don Drapers could think up. But weirdness is a slippery slope all its own, and sooner or later, you knew somebody would attempt to top the above ad. So from Skittles and possible bestiality, we go to ice cream and cannibalism. Or as Allahpundit writes at Hot Air, “Bad news: Blogger scarred for life by ice-cream commercial”:
To cleanse the palate, via Metro, it’s strange advertising but is it bad advertising? If you’re a small company specializing in a product with endless mass-market competitors, you need to stretch your ad dollars as far as possible. Showing off the inventory probably won’t make an impression and sexing up the spot with attractive women arguably would make it more generic, not less. This, though? Instant impact. Watch the first three seconds and you’re hooked for the whole 60. And it’s weird enough that some viewers will be tempted to swing by the shop just to check out the vibe. It’s freaky deaky, but maybe freaky deaky smart too.
“Freaky deaky smart” is rarely a phrase one would use to describe the modern day incarnation of the once stately National Broadcasting Corporation, which finds itself in hot water with the same politically correct audience they’ve been cultivating for years, via yet another postmodern commercial, this one an ad for NBC’s upcoming sitcom Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, it was juxtaposed right on top of Bob Costas’ reporting on newly-minted Olympic superstar Gabby Douglas:
[flashvideo file=http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/files/2012/08/costas-2012-olympics-monkey-ad.flv image=http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/files/2012/08/costas-2012-olympics-monkey-ad-title-card.jpg /]
As Steve Hayward writes at Power Line, “NBC Stumbles Into PC Trap”:
Is NBC raaaciiist? They’re getting hammered right now for the juxtaposition of their coverage of Gabby Douglas’s gold medal in gymnastics and a network spot promoting an upcoming NBC show. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving much of useless media liberals. Take a look and judge for yourself. Don’t overlook the comment threads. You can expect the usual full grovel apology from NBC for its “insensitivity” in due course.
Steve’s link goes to a Twitchy-esque post at Buzzfeed that rounds up some of the rather… intense… reaction from NBC’s more dedicated viewers:
While NBC will likely be forced to grovel an apology, even a fake “we’re sorry if you were offended” effort, they also have a chance to push back against this if they want, and remind viewers that:
1. Commercials and the main TV programming they sponsor are two separate entities; if you’re seeing a connection between the two, that’s your problem. And:
2. If you’re associating African-Americans with monkeys — or you think that we do — that’s really your problem.
A decade ago, when a film critic at England’s Guardian was sure that he saw a racist metaphor in the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and wrote, “Dark, slant-eyed, swarthy, broad-faced — it’s amazing [the director] doesn’t go the whole hog and give them a natural sense of rhythm,” Jonah Goldberg responded:
Okay, yes, it’s true. Many of the Orcs (and the super-Orcs) are dark-skinned and have slant-eyes. They are also — how shall I put this? — Orcs! Ya frickin’ idjit!
One is tempted to ask who is the real racist here? On the one hand we have people — like me — who see horrific, flesh-eating, dull-witted creatures with jagged feral teeth, venomous mouths, pointed devilish ears, and reptilian skin, and say, “Cool, Orcs!” On the other hand we have people, like Mr. Yatt, who see the same repugnant creatures and righteously exclaim “black people!” Maybe he should spend less time vetting movies for signs of racism and more time vetting himself if, that is, he free-associates black people with these subhuman monsters.
But between the primary NBC unit and MSNBC, the video divisions of General Electric have been cultivating a politically correct audience for years, and seeing racism where none exists — or manufacturing it out of whole cloth, in the case of NBC’s deliberate and deceptive edit of George Zimmerman’s 9/11 call. Not to mention NBC’s decoding efforts as part of the “Liberal Bletchley Park” to find racism in every critique of Barack Obama.
Additionally, NBC has long intermingled sports and politics, whether it was having PETA spokeswoman Pink sing the theme song for the first season of Sunday Night Football, having Keith Olbermann do reports from the broadcast booth of SNF, or intermingling football and environmentalism. (And who could forget NBC’s ham-handed multicultural rechristening of Turin, Italy, as “Torino” for the 2006 Winter Olympics?)
Having politicized both their news and their sports coverage to a near-unwatchable degree, NBC shouldn’t be surprised when their remaining viewers start viewing NBC’s coverage through their own highly politicized prism — which has in part been shaped by spending hours watching NBC and its sister network.
As for the intent of the rest of the post-modern ads, we’ll give the last word to that learned critic of 21st century advertising, Moe Szyslak:
More: “NBC Caves to Racialists Following Ad Controversy,” Rick Moran writes at the Tatler. “Of course no offense was intended. And you’d have to be an idiot to take offense in the first place.” But taking PC offense at everything, real and imagined, is the worldview that NBC has spent the last 20 years cultivating. They shouldn’t be all that surprised when it risks turning on them.
Update (8/5/12): At some point over the weekend, the YouTube account associated with the unfortunate NBC Olympic juxtaposition was shuttered; it now generates the dreaded “This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated” message. I don’t know if that was due to a nudge from NBC (though I have my suspicions), but it certainly didn’t occur “unexpectedly,” and I replaced the YouTube clip with the copy that I had downloaded Friday night.