“Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.”
On this day in 1974, heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the militant left-wing Symbionese Liberation Army. Old-time conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell believed that the SLA and the kidnapping were part of a larger conspiracy ultimately encompassing Nazis, the CIA, mind-control experts, and other peeps.
Thirty years later, in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook—which, had Brussell still been alive, she might have also chalked up to a larger conspiracy ultimately encompassing Nazis, the CIA, mind-control experts, and other peeps.
I used to do freelance work for a start-up that made sensors that could detect head-injuries (CTE) in football players. My job was to a) read up on all the articles on CTE each morning so they could be linked out through the company’s social media account and b) write fun articles celebrating American football culture.
So basically, my direction was to sort of both say “Yay Football!” and “football will fuck up your life and kill you.”
“THE TOP TEN AWESOMEST SUPERBOWL ADS OF ALL TIME!!!! (PLUS: FOOTBALL WILL GIVE YOU DEMENTIA AND YOU’LL KILL YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY WITH YOUR WEIGHT-LIFTING EQUIPMENT)”
Basically: a metaphor for the entire American Dilemma at present.
And I really did feel, at some point, that their marketing campaign might have been more successful had they finally picked a goddamn side. Nobody appreciates subtle shades of grey more than me, but we were trying to reach the masses, here.
This all brings me, inevitably, to the topic of Superbowl Ads. Is it wrong to regard such advertisements as works of art deserving of such scrutiny and applause? Or, by doing so, are we at least admitting that most mainstream entertainment are just, in the end, ads anyway?—pushing Product, Country, and Approved Cultural Norms.
The main theme of many these ads—including the trailers—seemed, at least to me, to be about the breakdown of reality & time:
Of course, is there any movie more emblematic of this concept than Avengers: Infinity War? Sure, the teaser for Avengers: Endgame didn’t have a whole lot of “content” in it, but the reminder of the essential breakdown of reality—the Marvel Studios version of the “Rapture,” if you will—was omnipresent. You can’t help, even almost twenty years after the fact, to experience resonances of 9/11 in this teaser. Perhaps 9/11, in a way, never ended; which would explain a lot, actually.
From there you can go to the new Twilight Zone series trailer, which shares a key image with the Avengers one—an eerily empty football stadium (a reference at all to the future trending that shows the sport eventually dying out due to greater public awareness of CTE?). Part-and-parcel with the concept of Twilight Zone is the breakdown of reality—as is the trailer for Jordan Peele’s other project, the movie Us
The Bud Light/Game of Thrones ad/trailer is a keen example of a very specific type of reality-breaking trope—that of the “mash-up” between seemingly disparate media concerns. What starts as a Bud Light ad literally morphs into a Game of Thrones ad. Why? Because time & reality are breaking down. We see this again in the Lebowski/Sex in the City Stella Artois ad. Of course, both are for beer—what better way to get in the mood for the impending eschaton than getting knackered off your ass?
The Michael C. Hall Skittles ad takes this one step further and borrows not-a-little-bit from Bandersnatch—the actor, playing the actor, talks to his therapist about his anxieties regarding starring in a Skittles commercial. A creepy scarecrow, symbolizing his fears, appears out of nowhere. Then the fourth wall breaks…again. End scene.
(And of course…Michael C. Hall is the Bulgarian)
Lastly…am I the only one who saw a trailer that seemingly featured Idris Elba as a bad-ass cyborg and thought: WOW, I’m totally DOWN for a movie featuring Idris Elba as a badass cyborg!!! And then the “Fast and Furious” logo flashes and we see Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham and I’m like…oh, FUDGE!
Can’t win ’em all, I guess…
One more thing about those Superbowl ads…you saw how many actors were just showing up to get a paycheck for these things? Harrison Ford, Steve Carell, Jeff Bridges, Luke Wilson, Jason Bateman…times are TOUGH, man. Everyone’s slumming, baby! Over 2,000 mainstream media bloggers and content editors out of work! How can ANYONE compete???
By being MYSELF, of course! (Of course.)
Have a good Monday.