Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sell Your Soul for the Super Bowl

Every year companies invest millions in Super Bowl ads with the hope that the Bowl’s wide viewership will give their products a Midas touch. The football game to end all football games (for the season) gives TV networks more viewers on one night than they get for entire seasons of shows. At least 100 million people turned on, tuned in, and ate wings while allowing themselves to be bombarded with one 30 second ad after another. But what are we really getting?
The advertisements are entertaining, or at least they better be at the price of 3 million dollars each. Unfortunately, not all of the ads successfully entertained me, unless shocking me senseless and forcing me to confront the bleak realities of capitalism and consumerism counts as entertainment. 
Eminem was in a Chrysler commercial. Yes, yes he was. I know Chrysler is a Detroit-based company, and there are plenty of people out there who would say he’s just doing it to support his struggling hometown. But is that enough of a rationalization? Can we please see the paycheck Em got for his cameo? It had to have been huge. I guess everyone can sell out to the establishment, even Slim Shady.
There’s more. P. Diddy was in a Mercedes commercial. I could go ahead and cry. Why are our musicians so willing to align themselves with material goods? I guess it’s because so many musicians and pop stars represent luxury goods in their music, which is basically free advertising (think Gucci Mane… his NAME is Gucci) so maybe it’s time they actually got paid to do it. Perhaps it’s another smart business move for Diddy… but whatever happened to Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems? Now it seems like Mo’ Mercedes, Mo’ Money… Mo’ Money. Period. Seems like the only problem now is not getting mo’ money.
The cast of Glee had a commercial during the Super Bowl and an entire episode after the Super Bowl dedicated to Chevrolet. What happened to aspiring actors, singers, and dancers wanting to star in musicals and make films and write plays and share the experience with a live audience? Why would a high school glee club’s main ambition be to participate in a Chevy commercial? Commercials are for selling things, not for showcasing artistic ability. American culture is so used to conflating money with every kind of success that we can actually have a show about talented young kids who desperately want to help Chevy sell more cars.
This next part is just for Adrien Brody. Dear Adrien, you are an indie movie star. You are so cool and I am your fan. Why did you have to go a do a Stella Artois commercial? Is it really your favorite beer? I know it’s an aristocratic beverage and perhaps you see yourself as a debonair gentleman but please stop trying to sell me on a type of beer just because the Stella executives were willing to pay you enough to do it. 
And now... something especially disturbing. Groupon’s Super Bowl ad (I hate saying the name of the company; more press means more money for them) featured actor Timothy Hutton, who at first seemed to be participating in a tourism ad on behalf of Tibet. 
He began, “The people of Tibet are in trouble, their very culture is in jeopardy…” But then things took a turn for the ethically unsound, “…but they still whip up an amazing fish curry! And since 200 of us bought in on Groupon.com we’re saving on Himalayan food!” Then the ad cuts to a screen that says SAVE THE MONEY and we are all supposed to think that saving money on food in Chicago is better than a real investment in preserving an ancient and geographically distant culture that predates 200 BC.
This commercial has since been played on almost every morning show, which makes me think its obscenity was really a genius advertising ploy to help Groupon reach an even greater audience than its 30 seconds during the Super Bowl. Maybe no press is bad press, but this just feels dirty. 
There’s so much more to be freaked out about. We all expected it from Justin Bieber… but seeing Ozzy Osbourne with him in a Best Buy commercial is just too sad. What happened to the old Ozzy (aside from decades of drug abuse)? Did the anti-establishment mores of Black Sabbath die like the Wicked Witch of the East when a Best Buy dropped from the sky? It looks like the time when artists didn’t have a price and people made music for love instead of money was just a fairy tale.

Friday, February 4, 2011


what matters to the universe
there were reports
of that which is tempura
quietly consensual
a dog with tail in mouth

the moon is a broken condom spilling
luminescence everywhere
it was the way she stepped soundlessly
over the dry leaves
you looked at the painting,
that is why you are sick

more alike than
we understand we are
the illusion of power
is power itself