Archive for the ‘Electronics’ Category
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.
These two commercials employ “evasion through hyperbole.” By dramatizing absurd, extremely unlikely scenarios, they allow people to evade something that’s actually occurring within the culture. Is it true that the government – and thus the police – are becoming more and more arbitrary and oppressive? Yes. Absolutely. Is it true that the business community is becoming more and more pretentious, and less and less truly productive? Again, yes. Absolutely (which would explain why America has incurred more debt within the last 15 years than it did in it’s first 220).
These things are so obvious that even the most oblivious, narrowly-focused person cannot help but have an inkling of them. As a result, they experience a certain amount of fear (because there are consequences) and guilt (because they are part of a “self-governing people”). These commercials provide such people with the following rationalizations: “This country couldn’t be headed towards a police state, because if it were then that is the kind of thing that would be happening. That isn’t happening, so I must be misinterpreting something. There must be another explanation for why the things which actually are happening – which I think are arbitrary and oppressive – are happening.” The other one allows the viewer to think “This country’s economy isn’t a ‘bubble’ built upon pretense and posturing – because if it were then things like that would be happening. They’re not, so I must be misinterpreting something. There must be another reason why I have that inkling.”
The effect of such subliminal messages are, not accidentally, a moment’s reprieve from such uncomfortable (but well-founded) feelings. That relief then registers in the memory of the viewer, so that the next time they appear (which these companies know they will – since they are responses to facts), the viewer will remember the experience of being relieved of them. They will then (hopefully) associate that experience with the particular company which provided it for them, think about how they happen to need help with moving, or shipping, or copying, or whatever – and then purchase the product or services being advertised (and from Old Dominion or FedEx in particular, since they “might as well”, since there’s really no significant qualitative difference between competing products and services).
This is a jab at political correctness. It’s become so bad in modern Western culture that you could almost expect someone to tell you you’re prejudiced and bigoted if you thought it was weird that someone had wires like a marionette (as if that weren’t objectively “weird.” ie: highly abnormal, and therefore understandably shocking). This commercial both informs (an ad’s primary purpose) and entertains (and more importantly does so by complimenting an objectively virtuous trait within the viewer’s character: his ability to judge things objectively, and to not doubt his conclusions simply because they are straight-forward).
Update: the following, sister ad to the one above is an attack on existentialism. The boy clearly has an objectively negative personal feature (his “wires”) – and the commercial even demonstrates this by having him get caught in the ceiling fan – but nevertheless, the father tells him that his wires are simply “what makes him, him.” Why would a loving, well-meaning, rational parent ever do this? First of all, if such a man’s child is born with some debilitating physical feature, he would do whatever is medically and financially possible to eliminate it so that the child can have the best life he can (and to not do so would be obscene; bordering on child abuse). If nothing can be done, however, certainly he wouldn’t say or do anything to make the child feel unworthy of love or completely hopeless about life, but he would also not tell him – at a stage where he’s well into his development as an individual – that he’s not disabled, but merely “different.” That merely compounds his disability by impeding his ability to think about things (especially himself) objectively. He becomes not only physically disabled, but mentally disabled as well (hence the reason why the boy in this commercial thinks getting caught in the fan is “awesome.” Just think what other kinds of reckless and self-destructive things he might do with that attitude). Yet that sort of dishonest stifling is precisely what Existentialism counsels. Existentialism, in a nutshell, is epistemological (even if not metaphysical) subjectivism – which necessarily leads to ethical and aesthetic subjectivism. It short-circuits genuine self-esteem by giving people philosophical permission to treat anything and everything as good and acceptable simply because they desire it. It’s pure emotionalism.
This commerical is positive because, like the one above, it lampoons the existentialist attitude. The contemporary culture is so thoroughly saturated in existentialism that one could almost expect someone to tell you you’re a bad parent if you told your (appropriately aged) child that he was disabled because he had wires like a marionette (as if that were not objectively debilitating). Obviously no child has the disability of being “wired”, but that’s precisely the point: Existentialism demands “acceptance” for the sake of acceptance – so in principle there could never be anything (no matter how obviously bad) that anyone could evaluate as bad. This commercial – like it’s sister commercial – both informs (an ad’s primary purpose) and entertains (and more importantly does so by complimenting an objectively virtuous trait within the viewer’s character: his ability to judge things objectively, and to not doubt his conclusions simply because they are “insensitive”).
“If you play video games to the point that it interferes with your life, because it doesn’t interfere with your life this much, it isn’t really interfering with your life. Therefore, continue to play video games.”
This is evasion through hyperbole
These two commercials do what advertising is supposed to do – and in an all-around wholesome manner. Unlike so many commercials these days – many of them documented on this blog – this commercial doesn’t substitute psychological manipulation for merit (or even for informative substance completely). Instead it educates the viewer about the existence of a product and/or it’s features, and because it does that, it can legitimately entertain him aswell (which it does, in an uplifting and rational manner).
It is rational to have a certain degree of contempt for criminals, because it is an indirect way of taking pride in oneself for having achieved the traits of character civility requires. It is rational to contrast one’s own lifestyle with that of someone headed to prison, because it is an indirect way of celebrating the rewards of those character traits. The humor employed in this commercial is not meant to belittle, and therefore excuse and enable, any kind of self-destructive behavior – but instead calls upon the best within people in order to be enjoyed.
The contrast between what the police commissioner gets to enjoy and the criminal get to “enjoy” (because of who they are) is a nice dramatization of the connection between broad, abstract character traits such as objectivity, courage, and justice with specific, material values like the pleasure of playing fantasy football.
A comment left on Youtube about this commercial sums it up perfectly:
“this just shows exactly what is wrong with people and their phones today. everyone lives through the little 4 inch screen on their cell phones now. no one just stops to enjoy the life around them. they have to pull out their phones and record everything. why? because you might forget the event? of course you aren’t going to remember it well if you never even witnessed it first hand. you watched it through your phone while it was happening. put down the phones and enjoy life as it happens people.”
This commercial is meant to appeal to people with exactly that problem. People who know that they have that problem, and who feel bad about having that problem. People who want to do something about that problem. It is meant to make them feel as though the solution isn’t psychological in nature, but technological.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with recording worthy events, and if technology allows one to do so without compromising his ability to enjoy (or compromising the event itself), that is a wonderful achievement that the producers of the technology should be proud of, but again, not if it comes at the expense of prolonging an underlying neurosis. If someone is so psychologically ill that he can’t enjoy an experience unless it is documented, then even if that happens, he still won’t enjoy it. All he will do is look for something else besides the experience – some minor situational imperfection (real or imagined) – to fixate upon.
Nokia is willing to exploit that. To contribute to the continued presence of mental illness within people in order to make sales. Typical behavior in contemporary America’s hamstrung, over-taxed, over-regulated “capitalism.” Informed, rational decision-making is no longer the engine of commerce that causes things to happen. Manipulative flattery – and the resulting irrationality – is. The long-term consequences of doing one’s part to ensure that the culture remains that way be damned.
The outlaws of The Old West were criminals. They imposed their will upon people by force; without consent. Modern cell phone companies do no such thing. They offer a service, state their terms for the service, and the customer either consents to them or he doesn’t. Often, one of the terms is that should the customer agree to do business with the company, he cannot change his mind for a period of time (a contract). Again, this is not without his consent. It is simply a term he decides to agree to. Simply because the customer may come to regret his decision does not mean that the company holding him to it represents force being used. If anything, the only force that’s involved in such a situation is the customer forcing the company to do what it shouldn’t have to do: go out of it’s way to remind him that he promised to abide by the terms of the contract.
T-Mobile is a private, for-profit business. The fact that they would equate the actions of Old West criminals with the behavior of their competitors – simply because they know that most of the public is oblivious to the distinction mentioned above, and therefore will find the attack upon “big business” as emotionally satisfying – is reprehensible. It’s pandering to stupidity for the sake of short-term gain – and ironically it is exactly this type of pandering that has made (or at least prolonged) the public’s conceptual impotence; and – because that same impotence allows anti-business political leaders to have power – the economy is in such a precarious state that companies have become so desperate that this sort of pandering seems worthwhile (since the short-term is the only thing they can count on).
If T-Mobile wanted to use it’s public voice for the purpose of distinguishing itself from it’s competitors by pointing out, as a selling point, that it’s able to offer greater or complete contractual flexibility, that would be one thing, but that is not what they are doing. Instead, what they are doing is trying to make something which isn’t all that much better (all things about their service considered) appear much better by making themselves out to be on a political/moral crusade – and inviting the customer to join – so that he will feel better about using T-Mobile than he actually should.
This commercial is a classic package deal.