Posted tagged ‘capitalism’

When Did Commercials Get Super Weird?

May 12, 2010

Can it be it was all so simple then?

Has anyone else noticed that the average commercial is super friggin’ weird these days? As a product of the 80s, I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side believing that the entire point of a promotional tool was to get the consumer to purchase a product. These days, as the mega-conglomerates would have you believe, not so much. They just want your attention and want you to think it doesn’t matter whether you buy it or not because they’re just that cool. Did it begin with the Quizno’s hideous Sponge-Monkies or Pepsi’s strategy to trap children in their bottles? Regardless, we’ve become a generation who wants whatever weirdness on top of weirdness you can throw at us in order to fork over the hard-earned cash we don’t have for your awful product that we don’t need. Quite frankly, this is why we are all dead on the inside the greatest country in the world. Here’s some example of how far into the abyss we’ve descended.

Pledge “Glass Box”

Beginning our journey is a reminder that modern commercials exist with the rational of the irrational and completely illogistical logistics. Without delving too far into NYUnicorn cultural studies post-modernist “othering” rhetoric, you’ll most often find cleaning products ads targeted toward women. Therefore, what better way to remind them of what they were put on this Earth to do than make the act of cleaning the most demeaning task possible? In a commercial that had to be directed by Sardu, a woman is “trapped” in a glass box and forced to clean it without so much as a protest or a plea. While this isn’t as bad as the one where a woman is screaming to be let out of the box at the end of it (not a joke), which has conveniently vanished from YouTube, the disembodied male voice gives the entire spot a bizarre misogynistic repressive sadomasochist vibe all from cleaning allergens. Did they really need to say the woman was “trapped?” At the risk of sounding oversensitive, when a woman is trapped in a glass house I have to throw stones and ask “Who is this supposed to appeal to?”

The Chicas Project “Sharing”

Whereas the last commercial brought up the possibility of the commercial not having a clear target audience, this one for Mun2’s The Chicas Project appears to be deliberately pursuing the wrong one. I first caught this in the summer of 2008 while channeling surfing and the image of siamese twins caught my attention. Two girls who enjoyed partying enough with each other to SURGICALLY SHARE THE SAME BODY?! This is the stuff that great 70s exploitation films are made of. AND THEY CHOKE EACH OTHER OUT IN FRONT OF THE PIZZA MAN? Sign me up, ring the alarm and sell me a t-shirt – I have a new favorite show. Even the name The Chicas Project gave the whole thing a jovial but morbid edge. Imagine my disappointment when the promo turned out to be just an attention-grabbing one-off for another reality show about two girls trying different crazy things! Im sure for what it is, this show on the youth-orientated Telemundo sister-station is fine, but it’s saddening such a bizarre premise seemingly raised on so much organic free-range awesome has gone to a 30 second waste.

Old Spice “P-P-P-P-P-POWER!”

Just when people thought time-tested deodorant Old Spice couldn’t go any further off the creative deep end than their I’m On A Horse Super Bowl ad comes this series, directed by the ambassadors of absurd Tim Heidecker and Eric Weirheim. Starring one of my Honest-to-Gosh favorite actor’s, Terry Crews AKA President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, Tim and Eric at least want to convey to you that Old Spice’s body wash is a quality product. What’s crazy is, unlike their Absolut ads, this isn’t a viral campaign. This is a nationally prime time syndicated commercial seen by every single demographic. While I love these ads, as does my Father who coincidentally was born a generation before me, I have to wonder if these are really going to catch on with everybody the way a Wasssssup or Can You Hear Me Now did and if so, where do we go from here?

I'm so gaffing the pilot episode for this series.

If anything, my greatest hope is that such outside the box factory thinking can expand beyond commercials into more standard programming. Sometimes cult followings crossover, and when that happens we’ve historically been all the better not only for better art, but the seeds planted for future generations that continue to defy convictions while managing to not suck. Abbbbbbdominals.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

What is Circuit City, but the People? (J.I.L.S.)

March 17, 2010

The Circuit City of Angels.

Editor’s Note – As part of our ongoing Journeys in Liquidation Sales series here at Popular Opinions, it only seemed right to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Circuit City’s demise where much of JILS‘s inventory came from. This piece originally appeared somewhere else but I decide to have it remixed and digitally remastered with pictures, spun-back cusswords and the most nostalgic and absurd Circuit City clips the internet had to offer, including the in-store only complete Circuit City rap seen below.

“All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim.” ~ Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins

“I have a CD in stores, just in time for people to not give a kcuf about CD stores anymore.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

In three more days Circuit City, once the second largest electronic retailer in the United States, will close its doors forever. The latest mega-conglomerate to collapse, its slow burial beneath six feet of unsold Hancock and The Dark Knight DVDs has been met with an almost ‘told-you-so’ indifference and bitter obscenities due to, at a time when the store hasn’t received any new product for a month and has its entire inventory marked to 80% off, Johnny McBargainBin’s anger that he can’t find any of today’s hottest hits. The “Everything Must Go” signs adorn the walls like funeral wreaths, as EuroJungleHouseTrance echos an ominously repetitive requiem.

It’s March, 2009. Every industry, save tent manufacturers and repo men, is struggling. With the entertainment industry continuing to have problems, this latest loss is almost eclipsed by the announcement last week that Virgin will be closing all of its stores by June and Best Buy, while not closing, will be shutting down almost two-hundred locations within the next month. It’s hard to believe that just nine years after the industry (as well as downloading) hit an absolute pinnacle, the game shows no real hope for any commercially available physical media.

Circuit Breaker Heartbreaker

As much as I love the 29 CDs and 4 DVDs that I got for a combined total of under $100.00 during this retail trail of tears, it deeply saddens me that (without hyperbole) the physical music business is truly coming to an end. It’s over. Done. Ghost like Swayze. Outie 5000. And it all went so fast, too. I remember the summer of 2000 when the Mall of America had 5 different flourishing music stores inside of its gigantic singular complex. When I returned two years ago, all that remained was an single FYE that had bought out the last Sam Goody in the entire state and was having a “going out of business” sale. I felt a similar shock when I realized that since moving to New York City four years ago, 15 local music stores closed down. Come June, that number increases to 20 with Manhattan solely relying on FatBeats as its only non-electronics based music outlet. Otherwise we have J&R (who are probably not going anywhere as in 1971 they flatout bought the property for their location) and Best Buy (who are also doing-away with their music section but will be gone soon too) and that’s it.

But instead of placing blame, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of the great things Circuit City did. When Tower Records, the last strictly-music chain (Tower Video was always a separate entity) fell in 2006, music fans with a taste for more than “today’s hottest hits” were forced to find a new source for our more obscure cravings. While it never came close to Tower’s cornucopia of regional-rap, Circuit City did stand out for its emphasis on 1) selection and 2) catalog titles. New York does have its hip-hop stops, but with the East Coast bias nobody will admit to, and even Minnesota’s own hesitance on getting it’s hands dirty with some of the filthier parts of the south, Circuit City allowed a nationwide accessibility for everything from Eightball & MJG’s debut to Turf Talk and Lil Boosie mixtapes to every single project Cappadonna attached his name to.

They also were the only chain to reach out to the larger indie and overlooked major-label artists for nationwide promotions. The Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury was given a ridiculously discounted price, drop taken as a hit to the store, its first week of release and thus moved the bulk of its units there. It’s also the only store major OR mom-and-pop I know of that offered free t-shirts from the like of T.I., Scarface AND Tech N9ne if you purchased their albums the week of release. And unlike Best Buy, “The City” (As it’s unfortunately titled pedestrian-friendly 2007 makeover redubbed it) kept its prices low, even after it had buried its competition. To its dying day*, new releases were $11.99, recent hits were $12.99 and extended catalog titles were $9.88. Did this policy drop help or hurt it? Who knows? The bells have been tolling since the industry eliminate the maxi-single in 2001 and the dominos have been falling ever since.

So, what can be done now? I’d suggest we ride the wave back to the shore. It’s labor day weekend, and we have a long autumn ahead of us. All CDs/DVDs are 80% off and there’s some quality stuff you might have your last chance ever to get in there. You may never have another opportunity to get Tech N9ne, Project Pat, UGK and BG’s entire discography for under $50.00 combined. So g’head. Remember as a kid when you saw the Nickelodeon Toy-Run Sweepstakes? Now’s your only chance to live it. TOO LATE! SEE YOU IN HELL! FROM HEAVEN!

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*Or at least until it was put on Death Row.

Know What’s Awesome about Christmas? Presents.

December 4, 2009

Ahh Christmas. The season of giving. And receiving. And watching people give and receive. And to spit and retrieve cause I give and receive because I wanna. Yes, the good will toward men is great, as is the feeling of togetherness with friends and family. Lights are cool, snow hasn’t worn out its welcome and the meals are like a do-over of Thanksgiving, only highly customizable so you can have whatever you want. Know why? Jesus was born. Happy Birthday Christ, thanks for the turkey and garlic cheese bread!

But seriously, presents are awesome. All the “I don’t like to get presents” nonsense is nothing more than the mantra of people who can’t give good gifts. Stop being a self-righteous sadsack and step your game up, Eeyore! As for the rest of us who openly acknowledge that getting presents is fantastic, we get just as great a feeling when we’ve NAILED that perfect gift for someone.

What makes the perfect gift? I believe it’s something thoughtful that shakes someone down to their Christmas core. It’s what melts their icey hearts into Figgy Pudding and makes them feel like they just ran down the stairs in footy-pajamas to get what they’ve worked hard for all month at school by not being mean to the fat smelly kid. It’s something not necessarily nostalgic, but rather momentarily returns someone to their idealistic Christmas sensibilities.

What I’m talking about is making grown folks do this:

I stumbled on that clip a few years back looking for some awful Power Rangers Christmas special and it has delighted me ever since*. Being a product of the 80s and a child of the 90s, I was fortunate to have the Ninja Turtles Christmas, the X-Men Christmas, the Power Ranger Christmas, the Nintendo 64 Christmas etc., so I had the warm glow of Consumerism to help me hang ten on a Yule Tide all year round. Honestly, that’s a good thing. It’s not that I needed such things to feel complete, rather it was the joy of having cool stuff that gave me hours of enjoyment and, years later, realizing that I had been part of a movement. These cultural snapshots representing who I was and what my generation was into at the time.

As disconnected as we all get from childhood interests and the more independent our tastes become, our wishlists vary more and these snapshots become a lot more personal. These gifts we get, whether a movie, a CD**, a hooded sweatshirt, a car etc., all represent extensions of our interests. And it’s those gifts that will always remind us who, at that point in our lives, observed those aspects and cared enough to cater to them to give us that extra “holly jolly” around the holidays.

Yes, we’ve had it ingrained in our heads that liking presents is somehow “selfish” and “bad,” and we should faux-reject every gift with “you shouldn’t have,” but let’s be completely honest with ourselves:

Know What’s Awesome About Christmas? Presents!

Until next time, let’s agree to agree!

*I’m pretty sure I’m the reason the Fellini/Chesty Morgan clip is a “related video” too. Sorry kid, but when my highbrow meets my lowbrow it also makes for some holiday cheer.

**In 2009? HA! See you in Hell!