Friday, December 29, 2006

Mulled whine: My bottom three xmas ads

I feel festive. Mercifully, all the preposterous 'Magick of the Holidays' adverts have by now been whipped offscreen, to be replaced with less pretend solstitial bonhomie, more 'Look, products. This way.' Mind you, it's been the same shit every year since I started paying attention and not just diving into the pile of presents with pine needle-scattering glee, so I'm hardly breaking new grounds in observation here. The following three adverts illustrated a new low in reindeer-piss addled copywriter hubris, at the same time half-arsed conceptually and yet wholly committed in their cynicism and stupid, aggressive greed.

In no order of importance... the perennial Coca-Cola ad. They do that one with breathless choral excitement, 'Holidays are coming... holidays are coming', the juggernauts of the Coke delivery fleet snaking swift and silent through the snow to mass joy from the populace. Incidentally, 'juggernaut' the word comes from India, where Coca-Cola has been driving their lorries over local communities, creating an ecological imbalance and becoming the target of sustained protests from rightly outraged and thirsty (but not for that muck) Indians... So the new ad has a focus on a return to the image they, fair enough, invented: The fat guy in the red suit. But in Santa's snowglobe of sylvan shop windows and gaslight, where brown people aren't inconvenienced, or even present, things are, like the beverage, on the surface a tonic but in actual fact deeply, disturbingly bad. A vast and monstrous looking Saint Nick is viewed at successive stages of a girl/woman/little consumer's life. Like some sinister fat paedo-Claus, clearly engaged in some sort of carbonated drink addiction grooming with the little girl who, over years, comes to like the fizzy black tooth-vexing swill so much she eventually offers her own child to the portly pederast of fizzy pop... Highly unsubtle, and unsuitable. A post-everything cocktail of nauseating thought flat as that three litre bottle in the cupboard that's been there since last xmas.

An attempt to do something different with a traditional figure, presumably an attempt to illustrate how they are the cutting edge high street couturiers that strut funkiest, Debenhams brought you Black Santa Dude. Sporting the merest flecks of grey in his beard and a snazzy red suit, the only thing shaking like a bowlful of jelly with this superfly gift-laying muthafucka is Mrs Mary Christmas's sweet, sweet ass. He cavorts through Claus Towers as a terrible mix of 'Santa Baby' oozes through the speakers, exhibiting his natural and festive rhythm before clambering onto a jet-sleigh and roaring off. As if this already trifle-spoiling concept could get any worse, it includes the injudicious use of the phrase 'DJ Santa on the wheels of steel', which is offensive in the same way as an extended aprés-sprout fart from a brother-in-law whose arse is at your head height because there's no room on the sofa. At some point, Debenhams gave this advert the okay, a misguided decision which made me shake my head all the way to the tills, hungover on Boxing Day and clutching a wad of Chrimble vouchers, mouthing along with Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' [top ten!], to purchase a 70%-off-in-their-biggest-ever-half-price-sale new wallet.

Quite what Argos were thinking of when they cobbled together the cobblers of their toe-shattering [what happens when they keep curling] 'Once upon a time...' advert is a mystery that should perhaps never be revealed because the entire fabric of the universe might be rent asunder. 'Once upon a time,' it goes, 'a little boy had a christmas wish...' and that wish, manifested as a star, floats out above the rooftops,whereupon the boy's dad cunningly hops from the chimney tops, swings into the sky using other stars and astronomically implausible bodies - pausing only to get a jar of moonbeams for later, presumably - before returning with the wish in an inside pocket to 'take that wish to the place where wishes come true', which is revealed finally to be, crushingly, bathetically, Argos. Other physics-defying parents flock to the shop with captive wishes... Cut to ecstatic infant unwrapping present... Oh dear, where to even begin? In fact, just consider me exhaling dejectedly and stalking to the TV to stab the off button with an aggrieved forefinger.

We're used to businesses pretty much thrusting mistletoe over our collective head and puckering up, but these three, like the chiclet toothed speccy grease slick in a sleeveless v neck top nerd stereotype of Amercan movie legend, had us turning our face away to avoid his sexy sardines on toast breath.

Now it's all over, thank goodness, and after a week of surplus stock-touting ads shot for twenty pence in the sofa showroom with an excitable, possible ADHD-suffering, voiceover guy, we can look forward to a month of 'Hey! Fatty! Fatty fat fat! Whooo-EEE, you're looking porky...' and the new Gillian McKeith diet book, no doubt wth attendant disturbing focus on your waste as an index of health. Say! There goes Gill the Quack! '...Just a wood stick/ has McKeith, dear/and she pokes it/in your shite...' etc etc.

And a happy new year to all our readers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

if my colours all run dry

The news that humans plan to build a base on the moon is - as ever - a giant leap and a sickening lurch for my heart.

Part of me grew up in the certainty that we'd be in silver jumpsuits toting hoverboards - maybe that's 5000 miles east of where we [note extrapolative 3rd person] are - and responding to this other, kind of glib, BBC article, and being a fan of HHGTTG - h2G2, pah! - since first reading it at 10 years old [1985], I've never thought sci-fi was about future actualities but possibilities, or alternative realities, and in any case, as I've grown older and read more, more than that a reaction, as any writing is, to current actualities - but look... I'm writing this and then it's posted on the biggest message board we've ever constructed... cellphones, CPUs... microsurgery on my parents saved their lives... amazing, and a bit of a stroke of luck temporally and geographically speaking, I believe, well for me, anyway. Nailing virtual tracts to virtual doors, right place, right time...

But as Prince observed:

'A sister killed her baby cuz she couldn't afford 2 feed it
And yet we're sending people 2 the moon.'

Bah! What the fuck is going on?