Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ad Subtraction

Why, why, why do I not listen to Radiohead more often? Within the past week I've pulled out both Hail to the Thief and Amnesiac, and it's just, like, holy hell, Thom Yorke is throwing me a little party in my ears. A little party with spindly legged spiders and black crepe paper and microscopic diamonds echoing with reverberations of the big bang. When is the new album coming out? Early next year?

Like any human being with eyes and more than a passing interest in the ephemera of pop culture, I've been ceaselessly intrigued by those Dove ads (you know the ones I mean)--at first by the ads themselves and then by the wide range of reactions to them. Recently, Gapers Block has pointed me in the direction of both the shitty comments and the correctives to the shitty comments (esp. Wendy McClure's piece from the Sun Times), and Slate makes a worthy attempt to deconstruct the campaign in its estimable Ad Report Card column.

Speaking of advertisements, has anybody else seen that M&M's commercial that uses Iron & Wine's cover of Postal Service's "Such Great Heights"? As LK can attest to, my head nearly exploded when I first saw it last night. I'm usually not one of those people who gets all up in arms about artistic integrity and selling out to the Man (etc.), but something about this one really irritated me. It's not that I'm that much of an Iron & Wine fan. (I hold Sam Beam more than partially responsible for the sensitive hipster boys' detestable big beard phenomenon.) But, if I may borrow a sentiment from Pitchfork's review of the cut (scroll down to the sixth paragraph), the whispered intimacy of that version of the song just seems particularly ill-suited to the crass selling of junk food. Beam's hushed strumming and lo-fi lullaby croon always make me a little sad, no matter what he's singing about, and, I dunno, maybe I'm made uncomfortable by the inadvertent association of M&M's with a kind of late-night, bedroom sadness. Somehow it kind of makes me feel implicated, or exposed, in, like, a moment of depressive binge-eating, a futile attempt to mask some sort of pain with candy comfort food. And, is it just me, or does that not seem like the very best emotion to evoke in an attempt to sell a product? (On a related note, Stereogum compiles a list of other offensive uses of pop music in commercials, inspired by Target's recent appropriation of "Baby Got Back" for their back-to-school ads.)

1 comment:

Brendan said...

I remember a discussion we had concerning Amnesiac. I'm glad you've come around.