Sunday, September 24, 2006

Which is not to say that this performance isn't funny or that Slice isn't refreshing

There's a David Foster Wallace essay, E Pluribus Unum: Television and U. S. Fiction, in which he discusses some Joe Isuzu and Pepsi adverts as critical steps in U.S. television marketing from the earnestly-dishonest era to the winkingly-dishonest era. It was part of a larger argument about the intensive self-reflexivity of TV culture and its reflection in prose, but the ad thing was particularly interesting in that it became a huge tangent pertaining to the whole irony/authenticity/staged-authenticity cultural game everyone gets to play now-a-days. (wheeze, cough.)

In the essay, DWF makes the point that the purpose of this ad style is (obvs) to gratify viewers sense of superiority by inviting them to join the company in a smirking in-joke on the rest of the nation's stupid people. Then maybe identify with the brand or whatever. At least talk about the commercial at work in front of some putz who didn't see it.

So, here's the fun, reductive, and probably wrong part. In addition to being a by-product of the SNL parody commercial formula -- especially the ranting and raving Dan Akroyd bass-o-matic type stuff -- the 1980's ironic ads also got to employ up and coming SNL cast members.

I want to read an essay on the Orbitz gum ads. I wonder if there is one.


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