Tuesday, February 03, 2009

You Gonna Make Me Superman Up on You

Usually, when commercials leave me puzzled, I get angry. "Who are these people?" I ask. "Why are these people wasting my time?" I ask.

But this one -- from Mo' Money Taxes -- is different. It amuses me.

It begins in Miami, apparently.

It starts out with a group of people talking to a man in a nice car. They complain -- understandably enough, ipsa re -- about taxes, and how much they are. I suppose at a stretch, somebody with such a nice car has lots of money, and therefore knows about money, or at least how to get a good accountant, so maybe random guy in a (well, I can't tell model of car it is exactly -- maybe a Camero Z28 from the blurry hood ornament, but more likely something with a little more intelligence, judging by the noise the engine makes) car isn't the worst guy you could ask.

So random guy places a call on his cellular phone.

Cut to a scene on a beach (quite possibly also in Miami, but you can't be sure). RG's contact it seems, has quit the business.

One assumes the accountancy game, but you can't be too sure.

So has his partner, a big dumb white guy taking several drinks off a scantily clad waitress. Hearing his (ex-?)partner dis him, he talks about the virtue of his shoes -- babymakes, as he calls them -- and threatens the heading of this post. One assumes the blue t-shirt he's wearing has a Superman symbol underneath the pixellation.

Cut to some other guys on a boat. They're on the phone, too, and one assumes to the original random guy. "Don't worry," they say, "We'll be there in less than thirty seconds." Then we're treated to a montage of the yacht saling by for about half the length of the commercial.

I'm glad, frankly, that I don't live in Miami. It seems to me the yachts on the street (as they would have to be to get to ORG) would be a bitch to avoid.

Cut to a pool in front of mansion, where three people are standing. They might be ORG and the two guys on the boat. I don't know; I can't tell. They're wearing vaguely similar clothes to the men on the boat, but I swear it looks like they've switched shirts. The guy in the middle may well be ORG, but I'm not too certain of that, either. Could be the sunglasses they've all acquired.

"Come down and see us -- you'll be glad that you did," they close.

And I believe them. I do. I would give them my tax returns to file in a heartbeat.

Anybody who could make such an incomprehensible ad /has/ to be better at something else, and why shouldn't that something else be accountancy?

I have to assume that this ad is just another in a series I've never seen, so I just don't understand part of the assumed narrative. But even so, the cuts even within this one ad are /really/ unclear, so you can't quite get the connections between the speakers. It would make exactly as much sense if each of the three parts had no connection whatsoever.

However, that lack of clarity -- and subsequent lack of useful meaning -- is what makes it hysterically funny. It doesn't mean to, but it functions exactly in the way an absurdist play /should/ but seldom does. It makes you question logic behind how you piece together the world around you. Connections that seem like they should be obvious don't quite work correctly and things that makes no sense at all appear to connect seemlessly within the narrative.

Or to put it another way, the strange seems familiar and the familiar, strange.

Which is -- of course -- Brecht's classic definition of the verfremsdungeffekt. Bet you didn't think there was much crossover between him and Ionesco. Or Albee. Or that either had much to did with current Urban marketing.

If I ever got to re-edit this ad, the only thing I would change is to have them shout "It's not that way; it's over there!" a few times at the end.

Bet you didn't see that lil' bit of dramaturgical awesomeness coming at you when you started!

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