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I just watched this entire season so far of Parks & Rec on Hulu and I've seen the same set of five or six commercials over and over and over. I don't normally watch commercials, so I'm not desensitized to them anymore. Observe my perplexity.

Buick LaCrosse I'm almost impressed by the shameless unnecessariness of the features this car boasts, like Bose speakers and a heated steering wheel. No mention of a single relevant car feature.

Infants' Tylenol "We lowered her fever. You raised her spirits," a gentle wise-sounding female voice intones. After a bit more of this, she concludes, "For everything we do, we know you do so much more." While ostensibly admitting that PARENTS are more important to children than Tylenol, the whole function of the commercial is to put them on the same level. "Parents are more important than Tylenol" is the overt message of the commercial so you can't object to it, but it should not need to be said, and by saying it, they are implying that there is any comparison. Clever and gross.

Mobile banking of some kind A woman announces she needs to go deposit a check, so it's the uncle's turn to take care of the baby. The uncle stutters, panicked, as the mother deposits the baby in his arms. She steps away for two minutes, pushes some buttons on her phone, and returns to take the baby. The uncle, now gently smiling down at the child, says he's got it. This is cute enough, I guess, and the idea that mobile banking makes your life easier than it was in previous generations comes through, but the voiceover explanation that follows makes so little sense that it drives me crazy. It's something like, "Simplifying your life so you can create a bond that will last a lifetime."

The whole point is that the mobile banking shortens the time the baby has to be with the uncle! If the mom had had to go to the bank, the uncle would have had to baby-sit for real, not just hold the kid for ten seconds. I guess maybe the idea is that if the mother had actually had to leave, she would have had to find a real baby-sitter for the baby, since the uncle is clearly unprepared. "Capital One... Creating obligations on your phone that are not quite distracting enough to require a real babysitter but distracting enough that you shouldn't really be alone with your baby, so you can rely on semi-competent caretakers with abandon."

The one has nothing to do with the other, is what I'm saying. You can help your brother bond with your baby without mobile banking.

Planters nuts This one is just plain annoying. Claymation Mr. Peanut tells us, in a voice that reminds me a bit of Paul trying to be as smarmy and irritating as possible, "At Planters we know how to hold a great Holiday party... no matter who shows up." A nutcracker shows up and tries to bite the Planters nut. It's a little disturbing, although no more so than the whole idea of Mr. Peanut. I can't think of him without thinking of this tweet: Is there anything more capitalist than a peanut in a top hat and monocle selling you other peanuts to eat

Best Buy This series, one of which features Maya Rudolph, does that obnoxious but common Christmas thing of combining old-fashioned, epic style elements (like fairy-tale type language, fake reading from a giant leather book, and Carol of the Bells/Harry Potter soundtrack type music) with modern techie jargon to confuse people into thinking that words like "mobile carrier plan" are necessarily associated with Christmas. That tactic is familiar to be (though it still makes me feel itchy and greasy). Here's what bothers me specifically.

The commercial where the dad is trying to find phones for his twin daughters is told in rhyming couplets, mixing fakey "Twas the night before Christmas" language with embarrassingly out of touch slang like "mad quick" (but I guess this is a commercial meant to appeal to dads of teens, not teens themselves). At the end of the commercial, the dad concludes, "If I wrote these lines myself, they wouldn't be this... be this..." He trails off.

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? Are they implying that he did write the lines himself, and he's betraying himself by not being able to think of an ending (or not wanting to conclude with the logical ending, "bad"?) But why would he even start a sentence with "If I wrote these lines myself," then? And if he expects us to believe that he didn't write them, why does it matter if he says they're bad? I thought the whole point of distancing himself by claiming someone else wrote them was because he was aware they were bad. And if he didn't write them himself, why is he unable to complete the sentence? Is he too polite to insult the writers? I DON'T GET IT IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Aflac A PA is helping the Aflac duck run through his lines. The duck keeps saying Alfac in different gimmicky voices (Southern belle, various racist black voices, etc.) Each time, the PA praises the duck, then says a snide remark under his breath: "I LOVE IT! (I hate it.)" The duck finishes the commercial by banging his head against the mirror in self-loathing while the PA mutters, "I am so fired." This is an oddly heartbreaking picture of an actor duck in crisis. Why is the PA being such a yes-man? Obviously the duck is looking for some genuine direction here. He is keenly aware that his efforts are not panning out. He doesn't buy the PA's hype. He's blindly searching for some way to improve his craft and receiving no guidance. The PA is also aware that his current strategy is not getting him the results he wants--the duck isn't happy, he's not happy, he fears being fired. Everyone is miserable and nobody knows how to escape from the hell they've created for themselves in their hopeless pursuit of showbiz.

Wait, why is any of this supposed to make me want to buy car insurance?
There is 1 comment on this entry. (Reply.)
 
posted by [personal profile] mattevt at 03:25pm on 10/03/2014
I'm so excited I found this blog. I used to read your articles at L&E, and I LOVE your writing style and sense of humor. I'm glad you are still writing like this.

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