Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How will the world end?

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

There's a thoughtful movie review in today's New York Times of two movies that portray the end of the world, "2012" and "The Road."

It starts this way: "Bang or whimper? Fire or ice? Happily, holiday moviegoers interested in pondering the end of the world can select scenarios far more elaborate than those simple, traditional choices."

The review praises "The Road," based on Cormac McCarthy's grim novel but chides the movie for being sentimental when it could be more real or chilling. The movie review ends this way: “The Road” is engrossing and at times impressive, a pretty good movie that is disappointing to the extent that it could have been great. Is this the way the world ends? With polite applause?"

It's the last two sentences that get me vis-a-vis the advertising industry. So often it seems to me we pull back from the genuine and visceral (so as not to offend) and we wind up with the communications equivalent of a processed cheese-food product. It might look like something but it tastes like nothing and has no nutritional value. You know, the type of work that gets polite applause, a gentle chuckle and touches, moves and motivates no one.

Lincoln: "Four score and seven years ago...
Focus group: "Too complicated.
Lincoln: "87 years ago...
Focus group: "That sounds, like, so old...
Lincoln: "A long while ago...
Focus group: Still old...

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