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Sunday, May 23, 2004

My Weekend of Advertising Angst

Friday night I was enjoying the Red Sox TV broadcast until they annoyingly had to bring Judge Judy of all people into the booth for an inning to promote her show on channel 4, which now has some sort of unholy alliance with 38. Not only did they blab about non-baseball stuff for an inning (which I muted), but after the Judge had left the booth, Sean McDonough kept on for the next several innings about how she had allegedly stolen some Dunkin' Donuts munchkins for her grandkids, who were later shown eating the munchkins in the stands. The whole episode was an idiotic distraction from the game, all concocted to promote the unrelated crap they broadcast in the daytime, not the spontaneous banter that can sometimes be enjoyable. They even got in an extra mention of sponsor Dunkin' Donuts! UPN should be ashamed for sucking the life out of the Red Sox games they cover like this.

Then yesterday I went to see "Troy" and was once again bothered by the commercials that they now play even before the previews start. My response the last several times I've been to the movies is to do my best to ignore the ads, unwilling to play the captive audience. I have tried talking through them to whomever I'm with, though that can be difficult with the blasting noise. People like going to the movies partly because that's a place we can watch movies with no ads interrupting. So much for that, huh? Even the word games on the screen before that and the music pumped into the bathrooms is now entirely calculated to push products as much as possible. It all makes me wonder whether in the overcommercialization of our leisure time we're ripping the enjoyment out of what should be pleasant experiences. But that's a book for me to write some other time, better to move on.

Anyway, Troy was standard summer action fare, done pretty well. The main problem for me was how much the story was conflated, especially toward the end. I was distracted from watching the film by my shock at how things were slapped together so much more succinctly. In the credits, the movie claimed to have been "inspired by" Homer's Iliad. At least they were being accurate in that respect. Getting classical details corrects seemingly took a back seat to keeping the flick to 2.5 hours with an acceptable story arc for the consuming masses. Oh well.

It's only fitting, then, that my favorite piece in today's papers is the Michael Kinsley review of David Brooks. It's just brilliant, trust me.

In fact, several other stories of the weekend can be seen in the light of the ceaseless marketing campaign that comprises our existence. Michael Moore wins the top prize at Cannes thanks to his skillful job of building attention over his dealings with Disney. (Channeling the wingnuts: the French give that fat, smelly Bush-hater the award, of course! Too bad he didn't die when the airport terminal collapsed! It would've if his lard ass had walked through!*) John Kerry's contemplating the idea of not officially accepting the Democratic nomination at the convention this summer, which has been the subject of some political chatter this weekend, is really an admission that the candidate with the most money to blow on TV ads this fall is the one likely to win; God knows why people pay any attention to political ads to begin with, but it seems they do, and this whole thing is quite depressing. Even the Bush twins--happy graduations, girls--now seem willing to join the mega-marketing campaign that is presidential politics this summer by making some appearances to help out their dad, who is lagging with the youth vote. The revelation that Barbara and Jenna would be hitting the trail yielded my favorite headline of the weekend, with which I will end: "Bush twins quit the boozing to help dad."

*To be clear, this parenthetical bit is a parody of the hateful and factually inaccurate blogging of some people on the far right. This article makes an important point that might be lost:

Mr. Moore noted that four of the nine jurors were American: Mr. Tarantino, Kathleen Turner, the director Jerry Schatzberg, and the Haitian-born novelist Edwidge Danticat. "I fully expect the Fox News Channel and other right-wing media to portray this as an award from the French," Mr. Moore said. Only one juror, the actress Emanuelle Beart, is a French citizen.

While I have my qualms with Moore's over-the-top methods and claims at times, I don't believe in ad hominem attacks on the man either. I will be lined up to see his movie when it is released stateside, especially now that I know more detail about if from Frank Rich's column.