Sunday, November 05, 2006

When the truth is known, won't you want somebody to love...

It says something about a person that they'll think of an old Jefferson Airplane song when starting to write a new blog entry. I never really did like the Airplane much. They were a bit before my time, in terms of the kind of music I grew up enjoying. I wasn't into the drug scene. I much more enjoyed the ballads of the 1970s that told stories. Some of the late 1960s songs set the pace for those ballads, like "Honey" ("see the tree, how big it's grown, but friend it hasn't been so long, it wasn't big"). My mother loved that song and she turned the radio up every time it came on.

So why did I think of Jefferson Airplane? Maybe in part because Tim Berners-Lee fears for the Web's future. Berners-Lee invented the technology that runs today's Web. He is now, in 2006 (17 years after he created the monster), just voicing concern that the Web may be used to spread misinformation. Um, yeah, Dude. Have you looked at Wikipedia lately? There's plenty of misinformation on the Web.

It's always good to hear a voice of reason coming from Berners-Lee's corner of the Internet. Unfortunately, he just seems to be so behind the times in recognizing that propagandists, frauds, and liars have taken control over the information medium. And what is sad about the whole thing is that many people honestly trust these sources of information without demanding any sort of credible explanation of where the information came from.

But maybe my latest Web creation also got me to thinking about the 1960s. I have just set up a Web page about the Schick Quattro Treadmill Girl. If you don't know who I am talking about, there is a link on the page that takes you to Shick Labs' Web site, where you can watch one variation on the commercial. The girl is doing her thing and some guy with a really close shave steps up beside her and she loses all focus and concentration, falling down on the treadmill.

It's a cute gag but it doesn't compell me to go out and buy a Shick Quattro. In fact, according to one negative review of the product that I found, it doesn't give as close a shave as 2-blade and 3-blade razors do. I don't know. I just occasionally see a television (or theater) commercial that makes me laugh. And I laugh when the girl goes down.

But there is something troubling about that commercial, at least to me. For years, men have been taking the falls. Many television commercials have been portraying men as inept, stupid, incompetent, and not nearly good enough to be with the women in their lives. More than a few men's groups in the U.S. have spoken out against such advertising propaganda. It's starting to look to me like the advertising industry is getting the message: no more man-bashing.

But does this mean we'll be going back to sex-based stereotypes where women mindlessly chase men? We've already seen that kind of advertising with Axe Body Spray (which I have not tried, but I've looked at the package and see nothing in the ingredients which would lead me to believe it's any different from any other cheap toiletry product). We also saw something like it in a jeans commercial where Orlando Bloom was chased down the street by a horde of girls.

Okay, the Orli commercial is actually probably more faithful to reality than either the Schick or the Axe commercials.

Now, I'm not particularly concerned about how the bad stereotypes will impact our children as they grow up. I am sure that many media watchers will howl and snarl over this kind of advertising, as they have been for years. Rather, I'm just concerned that shifting the pendulum back the other way will give the media watchers yet more reason to howl and snarl.

Good comedy pokes gentle fun at who we are and what we do. Parody in advertising should be not only permissable but also encouraged. For example, I've also seen a few commercials for a new Jeep campaign in which obviously computer-generated animals mistake Jeeps for other animals. The Jeeps are being dive-bombed by birds, challenged by a lizard, and swatted by a flyswatter. There may be more spots I haven't seen. I think they're funny.

Do I want to go buy a Jeep? Not on your life. But I enjoy the commercials.

If I have to put up with commercials when I watch television, at least make me laugh. Take a cue from GEICO's Tiny House commercial and pique my curiosity. You never know. Some day, I may have to buy a razor blade, and if my choice is between carving up my face with Gillette or carving up my face with Schick, I may just choose Schick because they made me laugh.

Disclaimer: No Balrogs were criticuzed in the production of this blog. Grace Park may be married, but she still has a lot of very interested fans. Your mileage may vary. Tax, tags, and title not included. Do not attempt this at home. Professional blogger on a closed venue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the schick girl is hot

8:34 PM  

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