Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I watch a fair amount of football on TV, which means I’m exposed to commercials for all sorts of things I’ll probably never buy, like razors, beer, and SUVs.

Lately I’ve noticed something interesting. They still sell razors the old-fashioned way, by touting their features and capabilities. The latest razor doesn’t just have a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th or 5th) blade to spring a surprise on that stubble that had burrowed down to hide when it saw the 1st blade coming. No, this new whisker whacker vibrates, to persuade the little guys to stand up straight, all stimulated, before the blade comes along to mow them down. Is it likely to be any more effective than my dad’s old straight-handled, screw-off Gillette Blue Blade model? No, but at least it’s being touted as something that will do what a razor is supposed to do, namely shave your face.

Beer, as always, is supposed to be refreshing and not make you puke or pee too much. That’s been their story for centuries, and they’re sticking to it.

But vehicles, now, seem to be getting away from saying anything at all about the product itself and are instead assuming that you already appreciate the car and want to buy it, and the only thing left to convince you of is that you need to do it right now, for utterly unrelated reasons. Let me mention 3 recent examples.

Chevrolet announces it’s having a Red Tag Sale, where you can walk into a showroom and buy a vehicle for *gasp* the price listed on the price tag. (Boy, let’s hope the grocery industry never catches on to this gimmick.) Of course, this is for a limited time only. After January 2, they’ll go back to their normal methods, presumably lies, deception, and trickery.

Toyota suggests that their cars are so great that you should drop boulders on your existing vehicle, so you’ve got an excuse to get one of their new ones. In addition to being wasteful and bad for the environment, this constitutes insurance fraud. And it kind of makes you wonder whether Toyota expects any return business, since presumably this year’s satisfied customers will have to deep-six their purchases when next year’s demolition derby rolls around.

Cadillac makes an unabashed play for the stoner crowd by showing their cars zooming too fast for the eye to follow down a loooonnnnggg tunnel filled with neon lights, while the spokesmodel in the driver’s seat murmurs breathlessly about getting sexually stimulated, I guess by some knob or lever whose ostensible function wasn’t apparent before she dropped that tab of LSD. All we’re missing is Gracie Slick on the CD player.

None of these commercials are selling you cars. They’re selling you on the idea of being sold. In a way, they’re commercials for the commercials themselves -- metacommercials, if you will. I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising, since they’re made by ad agencies which ARE showcasing their own services, and if they can do it on the other guy’s dime, hey, so much the better.

The ultimate metacommercial, tho, is for Cialis. What they’re selling is hard-ons, but in our puritanical society they’re not allowed to say so, let alone show one. So of course the commercial is about anything BUT erections (which, presumably, we football fans are already sold on anyway). Instead, what they appear to be hucking are matching bathtubs with an ocean view. I wonder if the Kohler Company can piggyback on this in exchange for a product-placement fee.


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