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February 05, 2007

Teh Ghey: NYT Advertising Expert Sees Super Bowl Ads As Subliminal Messaging About Iraq, West Side Story

Whatever. Supposedly this is a business column. And supposedly it's written by a dude.

A lot of people are going to claim this is a homophobic slam, but I don't think it is. It's just a can't-really-miss-it-even-if-you-try recognition that the NYT oddly chose to assign one of the most femme men on its staff to cover the commercials in the most guy-oriented event of the year. And, having done so, they can hardly be surprised that the subretard level quality of article they got out of him.

There are gay guys and then there are GAY!!! guys. Either this guy began psychically channelling the spirit of Paul Lynde while writing this, or he falls into the latter, ahem, camp.

Super Bowl Ads of Cartoonish Violence, Perhaps Reflecting Toll of War


No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.

More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.

For instance, in a commercial for Bud Light beer, sold by Anheuser-Busch, one man beat the other at a game of rock, paper, scissors by throwing a rock at his opponent’s head.

In another Bud Light spot, face-slapping replaced fist-bumping as the cool way for people to show affection for one another. In a FedEx commercial, set on the moon, an astronaut was wiped out by a meteor. In a spot for Snickers candy, sold by Mars, two co-workers sought to prove their masculinity by tearing off patches of chest hair.

There was also a bank robbery (E*Trade Financial), fierce battles among office workers trapped in a jungle (CareerBuilder), menacing hitchhikers (Bud Light again) and a clash between a monster and a superhero reminiscent of a horror movie (Garmin).

It was as if Madison Avenue were channeling Doc in “West Side Story,” the gentle owner of the candy store in the neighborhood that the two street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fight over. “Why do you kids live like there’s a war on?” Doc asks plaintively. (Well, Doc, this time, there is.)

Ahem. Look, I don't have any problems with gay guys, but is this sort of supra-gay type dude the best person possible for reviewing Super Bowl ads? He's referencing West Side Story for crying out loud.

Even Gay Robot laughs at this article. He likes sports. And also, balls and weiners. But sports too.

The whole column reeks of the bad sort of femthink -- free associations that would make little sense even in the appropriate context of a Take Back the Night Action Committee Meeting, where a furious two-hour debate erupts over whether Chewbacca should be taken as a phallic symbol (taller than he is wide) or a vaginal one ("walking carpet").

I supoose this whole article is the NYT's effort at counter-programming, like ESPN opposing the Super Bowl with a line-up of nothing but ice-dancing, cheerleader championships, and a twenty hour Ken Burns documentary on the history of menstrual cramps.

During other wars, Madison Avenue has appealed to a yearning for peace. That was expressed in several Super Bowl spots evocative of “Hilltop,” the classic Coca-Cola commercial from 1971, when the Vietnam War divided a world that needed to be taught to sing in perfect harmony.

Yes, no other commercials during any other war have featured slapstick, cartoonish violence.

If a commercial featured a guy getting hit in the nuts, this guy would claim it's a stealth analogy for Fallujuah.

How obvious is it that churning out these idiotic free-associations is all this poor sally can do from slitting his wrists at having to watch the game?

Coca-Cola borrowed pages from its own playbook with two whimsical spots for Coca-Cola Classic, “Happiness Factory” and “Video Game,” that were as sweet as they were upbeat. The commercials, by Wieden & Kennedy, provided a welcome counterpoint to the martial tone of the evening.

Those who wish the last four years of history had never happened could find solace in several commercials that used the device of ending an awful tale by revealing it was only a dream.

This guy is now seeking solace for the War on Terror in a Coca-Cola ad. He's hit rock bottom.

But I sense he's got more stupidity in him.

The best of the batch was a commercial for General Motors by Deutsch, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, in which a factory robot “obsessed about quality” imagined the dire outcome of making a mistake.

The same gag, turned inside out, accounted for one of the funniest spots, a Nationwide Financial commercial by TM Advertising, also owned by Interpublic. The spot began with the singer Kevin Federline as the prosperous star of an elaborate rap video clip. But viewers learned at the end it was only the dream of a forlorn fry cook at a fast-food joint.

Then, too, there was the unfortunate homonym at the heart of a commercial from Prudential Financial, titled “What Can a Rock Do?”

The problem with the spot, created internally at Prudential, was that whenever the announcer said, “a rock” — invoking the Prudential logo, the rock of Gibraltar — it sounded as if he were saying, yes, “Iraq.”

To be sure, sometimes “a rock” is just “a rock,” and someone who has watched the Super Bowl XIX years in a row only for the commercials may be inferring things that Madison Avenue never meant to imply.

"May be" something Madison Avenue never meant to imply? May be? Does he really think that Prudential is trying to gain some subliminal positive feeling by associating itself with a grindingly bloody war?

Good God All Mighty.

Again I ask: is someone who proudly burbles that, like millions of housewives across the country, he's only watched the last 19 Super Bowls for the commercials really the best critic of advertisments aimed at men (either straight men, or non-sissy gay men)?

What the hell is wrong with the New York Times? Did his editors actually buy into any of this drivel? Was it really necessary for an article supposedly about commercials for beer, trucks, tits and farting to propagandize against/for the war?

Do left-liberals really watch commercials featuring horses playing football and think, immediately, of Bush's unilateral war in Iraq?

The evidence would seem to suggest -- Yes, they do.

Actually, I'm starting to think it's not that he's femme, so much as he was stinking-ass drunk while writing this.

There must be some explanation, surely.

Take for instance a spot by Grey Worldwide, part of the WPP Group, for Flomax, a drug sold by Boehringer Ingelheim to help men treat enlarged prostates.

“Here’s to men,” the announcer intoned, “to guys who want to spend more time having fun and less time in the men’s room.”

It was not difficult to imagine guests at noisy Super Bowl parties asking one another, “Did he just say, ‘guys who want to spend more time having fun in the men’s room?’ ”

Let's just say I think it's more difficult for this writer to make this mistake than 95% of the audience for this ad.

Would the NYT send a rolly-polly retrosexual sportswriter, real beer-swilling Oscar Madison type, to cover the Rufus Wrainwright one-man tribute to Liza Manelli? Wouldn't it make sense to send someone with a tad more appreciation for such a thing?

Well, yes, and that's why of course the Rufus Wrainright Liza Manelli tribute got such an orgasmic reception from the Times.

But for the Super Bowl, the NYT's go-to guy is so radioactively gay the wretched male excesses of the Super Bowl send him into fever-dream fantasias in which GoDaddy.com is sending him secret messages about Abu Ghraib.

Not only is the NYT laughably biased and increasingly inept, it's now outed itself as a very cruel organization besides.

This horrible testosterone-fest, and its attendant martial pomp, has surely scarred this poor man for life. Certainly it seems to have unbalanced him.

The Deadline Makes Whores of Us All Update: carl carlson points out:

to be fair, i think it's important to realize that satellite stories and sidebars about the super bowl and, in particular, commercials during the super bowl are an annual requirement for papers big and small around the country.

there are only so many devices you can use to lead a story and there are only so many different angles you can take on a story. if you're faced with writing a story about ads during the super bowl you can't simply say they are attempts to get you to buy things.

you don't HAVE to be so freaking gay about it, but nevertheless, you gotta say something.

i submit maybe this guy isn't gay, maybe he's just lazy. and gay.

That's true. A lot of the more mindrippingly stupid columns can be attributed to the fact that when you have a deadline, you've got to churn out something, even if it's so asinine it hurts.

But was this stupid "edgy" analysis really better than a simple reportage of what the commercials were about, and why this one worked and that one didn't?

Sometimes it's better to just play things (ahem) straight.

The sad thing I think this guy actually thought this was a pretty decent effort. And his editor apparently thought so too.

digg this
posted by Ace at 04:08 PM

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