Caricature of a Caricature
Why would Gordon Ramsay make fun of himself? Isn’t he proud of his famously “terrifying” personality? Isn’t that the source of his success? The factor which separates him from all other chefs? The reason why – incidentally – he was able to land a tv show (a popular one, no less)? Humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at, so are we to believe instead that he isn’t proud, and that it’s not the reason? That he is successful in spite of his temper, not because of it?
He can’t have it both ways, so if by appearing in this commercial he is actually saying that he could have become who he is in the food world, as well as in popular culture, without his temper, then why spend literally years acting unnecessarily mean? Why make yourself into someone you’re not – to the point where you’re notable to most because of something that’s not real, and not what you want to be known for (ie: your temper, instead of something particular about your food)? The reason he has acted this way over the years (at least to the degree that he has) is because in truth he actually is not worth watching (or, more precisely, not to the degree that he actually is), and that the only reason why his show is so popular is simply because America’s mixed economy gives the government the power (mostly through foreign policy and fiat currency) to paper over the disintegration of America’s real power which is currently taking place. Things are just bad enough that the public wishes to turn to garish television shows (even if they masquerade as educational) such as his to evade the truth, but not quite so bad that they can no longer afford to.
The way this commercial is expected to work is by helping the viewer evade all of that (ie: the true reason for their interest in television shows such as Ramsay’s). By backhandedly acknowledging that Ramsay’s (culinary) success is only partially – if at all – dependent upon his willingness to get exceptionally angry in order to uphold his standards (ie: that it’s actually partially – if not completely – an act meant to entertain his television viewers), it allows the television-watching public to feel as though they aren’t really watching such shows in order to avoid their problems. People are aware of the fact that if someone truly has a problem, he can’t even acknowledge that he does. They are counting on this awareness in order to lie to themselves. To tell themselves “I must be watching this show for some other reason than simply to avoid reality with my problems – because if I were, then I couldn’t even handle a comical commercial which suggests that I am. It must really be that I’m learning about the culinary world, and that this show really does consistently teach me about it (as opposed to that just being a pretext for displaying interpersonal drama).”
AT&T is hoping that the emotional tranquility which comes from “knowing” this becomes associated with this commercial in particular so that when it is disrupted – which it will be, since it’s based on a lie – people will think of it in order to reestablish said tranquility (and in doing so remember that it was an AT&T commercial, remember how they’re in the market for phone service, and look more closely at AT&T’s plans).
Such psychological manipulation is exactly what’s necessary for companies who operate in the very same mixed economy which, ironically, produces caricatures such as Ramsay.