Purveyors of the Absurd
Art is “a selective recreation of the artist’s metaphysical value judgments.” Which facts of reality the artist finds worth communicating, and which the viewer deems worth being communicated. What this means is that art exposes what it’s creator (or it’s consumer, if he approves of it) deems as important, as essential, as immutable about the nature of reality. Obviously no one, anywhere, consciously believes that reality is so bizarre that any of the things that happen in these commercials could happen, but what many people do believe is that there are certain aspects of reality which in fact actually are incomprehensible. As much as they’re loathe to admit it, what this conviction says to those who hold it is that it stands to reason, then, that such insane contradictions could come into existence if circumstances were right. Because in principle there is nothing about reality which can give anyone certainty, there is nothing about reality which precludes contradictions.
The most prominent aspect of life in which this view manifests itself is the human condition (namely the philosophical realms of morality, politics, and esthetics). When faced with a problem concerning the physical sciences which they do not understand, most people would not consciously throw up their hands and declare “who am I to know” or “such is reality” (they would simply recognize that they are not educated about that particular subject), but if it’s an internal personal problem or a social issue they’re dealing with, many times that is exactly what they do. They give up, and act purely according to their emotions. Of course, they find no clarity as a result, but this doesn’t stop them from holding onto the belief which precluded clarity from ever being achieved. Not only that, but such notions being so widely-held is precisely what gives rise to the types of social mores and political phenomenons which, from a lone individual’s perspective, (ironically and tragically) make reality (ie: the consequences of such things to one’s own personal situation) truly incomprehensible (ie: one’s fate is no longer determined by his own volition and actions, but rather the whims of those with power and influence).
Commercials such as those featured here provide added insulation from whatever gnawing regret (or guilt) the viewer might have regarding his conscious conviction about the “inherent irrationality of life.” They allow him to think that because he is not so crazy as to feel like obviously irrational things such as watermelons that look like basketballs may occur around every corner, the diffused anxiety his ignorance or misunderstanding of the human condition actually does give him isn’t a problem. The appeal of this art is that it tells the consumer “nothing’s the matter, you’re right to feel how you feel.” What the companies who use this art to sell their products are banking upon is that the relief that message provides will endear their company to the consumer in a much more fundamental and personal way than the virtue of their (generally unvirtuous or indistinguishable) products ever could on their own.