Friday, March 13, 2009

Welcome to the future

Imagine for a second that you are watching this commercial as part of a 1984-ish Sci-Fi flick cautioning us about the dangers of technology.

The droning, uninflected lyrics (The use of words like "Elation", "Sensation" and "Shivers" with no hint of the actual feeling). The humans staring into the camera with a helpless, unaware gaze. No two humans are shown interacting.

But the digital world is so alive. So vibrant. That's where the action is, friends.

I saw this a few days ago, and was flash-chilled to the bone.

Is this a commercial Comcast or Second Life dot com?

Sure, Comcast is wont to parody itself, and I am more than happy to partake in the miracle of the internet, but this feels like a candy-coated entreaty to plug the Matrix right into my head hole.


NotNits said...

I apologize, but I love this commercial.

Some lucky copywriter got to rhyme "screaming yelling" with "R-O-T-F-L-O-L-ing." We don't get to DO that enough. (Someday I will share with you "The Awesome Song," which I wrote for Head & Shoulders, about the joys of being a guy. It was fun to write, and it was well-loved by agency and client alike, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day.)

And the whole thing is put together so expertly.

As for the dead-voiced singing style, I think you can safely blame the movie "Juno." That said, it works for me because it portrays a bunch of "regular people" in a down-to-earth attitude. (That's probably what the ad agency put in their PowerPoint presentation, anyway.)

Blue pill, please.

-j-j- said...

You make a compelling argument.

Of COURSE you would like this ad for those reasons.

And were I not so colored by my initial reaction, I might be able overcome the ice in my spine and see the skill of its authors.


That said, I cannot deny the craft involved in producing such a thing - even with the monotone influence of "Homeskillet Rock".

(It is now my objective to plant aspirin in your Coke and make you sing the Head & Shoulders jingle...)

joe g said...

jj, was that a Grease reference I just saw you drop?

@Notnits: I agree with you; The Juno soundtrack has taken over every mood piece, concept video and anthem film we've done for awhile now. It's nice to not be using the same 2 songs from "The Natural" and "True Romance" though.

My response to the ad is that I'm thankful Comcast has gone away from its thoroughly infuriating strategy of calling out its competitors for the same shit they themselves are guilty of. I'm specifically thinking of the campaign where they said you shouldn't get your cable and internet from the phone company
because that's outside the phone company's area of expertise...while at the same time pitching Comcast phone service...

Beyond that I dunno. I'm more than a little sick of the damn talking turtles though.

Termatin: the active ingredient in termites.

-j-j- said...

Actually, the Juno influence here seems more carried by the contributions of Kimya Dawson.

The soundtrack's practiced bid for cool is full of Belle and Sebastian, Velvet Underground, and The Kinks. These are great bands, great songs, lots of life. (I believe Sonic Youth's Superstar is on there too, a fact that I did not realize until just now.)

Then we come to Kimya Dawson who, in an effort to return to childlike authenticity, takes a very simple, nearly monotone approach to her singing - almost talking. The music itself is positively Amish, with no buttons or zippers, bells or whistles.

It drives me a little nuts.

I'm all for simplicity and lyrics that combine childlike observation with an adult's knowing (See Daniel Johnston). But anymore this type of music is used as shorthand for "authentic".

It also communicates to me a lack of emotional involvement. This style has been used to great effect by the aforementioned Velvet Underground and Daniel Johnston (the casing of the lyrics and simple chords holds in a wellspring of feeling threatening to erupt). But now other bands look to copy that style and (like a copy of a copy) it has devolved into a series of lyrics about skinned knees and fire ants and is absent of the "adult's knowing" that propels the style.

Which brings me back to the Comcast commercial. They certainly capitalize on the perceived authenticity this type of music delivers. What I find most disturbing about it is the lack of feeling – and the fact that they all look a little drugged and expressionless. Like they’re mainlining Soma.

I have to stop myself here. I have a treatise on this type of music and how it is reflected all over pop culture (through idiot savant Holden Caulfields), but perhaps I should save it for a blog entry.

A Grease Reference? The aspirin in Coke? Not directly. I just saw the movie Metropolitan again recently and it exists there.

Metropolitan is on of my all time favorites, by the way. I’d recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but then I’m afraid, upon watching it, all my sturm und drang above would be rendered nil.

joe g said...

I should narrow the focus of my statement above, then--what I should have said is, that Kimya Dawson track has taken over advertising...

Incidentally, during a recent show in Baltimore Kimya Dawson said "oh, by the way, I had nothing to do with that f___ing stupid Comcast ad that sounds like me."

Please do expand your treatise into a blog entry; I'd like to read it.

-j-j- said...

You asked for may take a little time - I've been wanting to write something along these lines for a while. It's one of those essays I don't want to toss off at 8am and hope it makes sense.

And Notnits - I'm not trying to pee on your balloon about liking the commercial. You see it from a totally different perspective than I do...I feel a little bad, wishing I could appreciate it more without being all JESUS, CAN'T YOU SEE THIS IS THE WHAT PHILIP K. DICK WAS WARNING US ABOUT?

I can see that I'm a little alarmist.

joe g said...

Alarmist or no, I think this calls in part for a larger discussion at some point about the role and function of advertising in the world.

NotNits said...

You see it from a totally different perspective than I do...

But you see it from the consumer's perspective, which is what it should be written for. If a commercial has all sorts of creativity and craft poured into it, and its audience is repelled by it, then it is a bad commercial.

"Pee on your balloon?"

-j-j- said...

True enough. But I don't think I'm a typical consumer in that regard since I am predisposed to aggravation.

Re: "Pee on your balloon?"

I first started saying that as a stupid combination of "Piss on your parade" and "Steal your Balloon." Then I realized that "Peeing on one's Balloon" seems in some way far worse and more humiliating than its antecendents.

But that was probably rhetorical, huh?

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Lord.

Mrs. Snrub and I were talking last evening while the TV was on when this abomination came on. First time I've ever seen it. Ever.

Yet, I stopped about halfway through, halted our conversation, turned to her and said, "Jesus Christ, I hate this fucking commercial. I just...gggah! Stop! End this fucking thing. GodDAMmit!"

So weird that you wrote about it today. Hm. it's good to have company in the visceral response category.


Ed R said...

I just think it's funny and telling that these people are gazing straight at us, monotonously extolling this product while COMPLETELY MISSING the bizarre, interesting and freaky shit going on around them in the world of the commercial.

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