Monday, February 12, 2024

Super. Stupor.

As I get farther and farther away from the standard utterances and issuances and masturbatory mania of what used to be the advertising industry--as Jerry Della Femina called it, 'the most fun you can have with your clothes on,'--the more clearly I can see it.

Sorry, Jerry.

Maybe this is jealousy on my part because I don't, again, have a spot running on the Super Bowl. In fact, I never did.

Even when I was at the pinnacle of my career, my commercials never ran toward the mainstream. And I was more about expressing an idea--heaven forfend, a reason to believe--than I was about constructing a spectacle with celebrities, too-loud rock 'n roll, or some faux touching story of a love regained.

Not that ideas and spectacle can't be blended. Carol Reed was no slouch. Though I think he'd be a second-tier creative these days. Restraint. Subtlety. Intelligence. No high-decibel dancing.

But more of my view of the industry is colored by the incessance of our chatter around the spots that will air and our hubris in promoting these things clients spend millions on and people care little about.

Soon, someone smart in the industry will have an idea. They won't merely have teasers for ads next year. They'll create teasers for the teasers for the ads. And the year after that, teasers for the teasers for the teasers for the ads. And so it goes, as Billy Pilgrim dirged.

The industry is like a CVS drugstore. The Halloween candy will come out right after Memorial Day. And it will all be stale by July 4th. Like the rest of our trumpian wet dream.

The Super Bowl is the only time the industry feels vital to the business community. We'll look at it like a new born baby set loose in a topless bar. It's the good ol' days.

But as I see ad after ad--before the game--and teaser after teaser, before the ads before the game--it all feels like a high school production of Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues." 

Our fanfare about what we do and the noise we make about it is solipsism not with just a capital S, but a 144-point capital S. In other words, the importance and influence of our work is minimal.

Sure, we've created an analytic industry to prove the creative industry is still viable. But I'm not sure who all that data convinces except for people whose jobs depend on believing all that data.

I saw the homage to bygone America from VW. I saw the paean to mayonnaise. I saw a repellent 90-foot dorito in Las Vegas, and can barely imagine another thing more likely tp produce vomit enhanced by artificial coloring.

I saw the Christopher Walken spot for BMW. And this might be part of the problem.

BMW dealers--BMW is a hot brand now, they're selling more cars than ever--so their dealers suck worse than ever. I can't  find anyone to repair my car and give me a loaner--which they're obliged to do.

I think part of the issue with advertising--and the world--is there's a giant and ever-widening gap, a subject-object split--between the world portrayed in ads and the world we live in.

You see this in politics too. A divergence between truth and the party line. 

In Norman Lear's New York Times obituary, I remember this bit:

Believing in advertising today, or politicians, is a bit like believing in the salutary effects of crack cocaine. It's not smart to focus on only the highs without the inevitable lows. Look at TV spots and it's "which Tina do I want to be," not the world is burning, my kids are on tranq and my neighbors are neo-fascist wannabees.

"The message that was sending out was that we didn't have any problems."

I dunno.

We're living in a post-trust world. A world riven neatly in two where one-half cannot even fathom what the other half says, believes or how they live.

We have no agreed upon truths. 

Fair is foul and foul is fair. The battle is lost and won. 


The re-establishment thereof is all we should be examining. Not the effects of gamma rays on man in the moon corn chips and piss-water beer.

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