The Real Breakfast

There is currently a commercial playing for a restaurant serving a new dish, Cinnamon Swirl Brioche French Toast.  I don’t want to say the name of the establishment for fear of getting “words” from their legal department, but if I was playing charades the clue would be kangaroo.

It doesn’t really matter what the restaurant is or what the food is because this is about my trying to understand why people do things. It’s the topic I’m most fascinated by—how people think. And that’s one of the primo benefits of blogging–sharing my thoughts and seeing what others think.

In the commercial there are three couples pictured in a pristine restaurant enjoying this new dish and commenting on it. An entire blog could be devoted to the absurdity of this sugar coated, calorie stuffed breakfast dish that is contributing to the obesity of our society and the eventual catastrophic effects on our healthcare system but the simple fact that the overwhelming majority of the population doesn’t want to take responsibility and recognition of the effects of said food item on their physical and mental health makes it both funny and sad and therefore temporarily excuses the corporate chains. Phew. Let me catch my breath.

Ok, again, I’m teetering on getting too far away from my original intention. In this commercial there are three couples, a thirty-something couple consisting of a white dude and an asian woman, who look to me to represent the modern cool couple of mixed race, judging from his t-shirt he probably works in tech, and judging from her beauty, class and dress she’s corporate. But yeah, they would eat there.

Then there’s the African-american couple, very clean, very nice and intelligent, and sitting next to each other, not across, obviously in love. And yes, they would eat there, on their date night, without their kids.

And lastly there’s the slightly younger, can’t quite tell if they represent the hipsters or just slightly younger version of the first geek couple, but they both have glasses, a little bit unkempt hair and thrift store dress. And hell no, they would not eat there!

Unless it were four am and they were either drunk and thought french toast would still be good or they thought it would be “ironic.” I don’t think that any of the couples pictured would go there, only the actors portraying them because they really don’t have the disposable income because this is the only national spot they got this year and the residuals run out quick. Plus actors are by definition terrible with their money, so it’s already been spent.

I’m not dissing the place, I’ve gone there, will go there or similar again, but I want to know why they make commercials like this? Do they think those kinds of couples are going to watch and want to go?  Do they think the people that really love to go there but haven’t been for a while will want to go there because now cooler, more attractive people will be there? Do they think that the American public is that dumb, and in fact, is the American public that dumb? BECAUSE RESTAURANTS LIKE THIS ARE NOT FILLED WITH HAPPY, SMILING, ATTRACTIVE AND CLEAN PEOPLE.  Really, neither are expensive restaurants.

And it’s not just them. It’s the friendly staff at the superstore that I’ve never seen. It’s the polite, attractive and courteous patrons at the pharmacy I’ve never seen. And my favorite, it’s the people that eat too much fast food, drink too much beer, and take too many anti-depressants with too many side effects yet they’re ecstatic, living the perfect life, and in the case of the beer ads, getting all the really hot girls.

Having studied the history of magic as a performing art, I know that it’s time when the public gets too smart and the illusions have to get better. Come on folks, let’s all up our game.

 

Et Tu Mr. P?

mr peanut

My childhood took a big hit when they made a live version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Then they did the same thing with Speed Racer. But now I don’t know if I can take it a third time—they’re messing with Mr. Peanut.

I didn’t care for the live version of the Grinch but I could understand it. I figured Ron Howard is a fan and wanted to do something with his beloved childhood memory. The technology and make up had come a long way and Jim Carrey was a very logical choice. I could even see, and I think it’s fairly well received, that kids who didn’t grow up watching the animated version would become attached to the new one. But still I didn’t think it had the charm, and come on, it didn’t have Boris Karloff doing the narration!

Then the Wachowski Brothers, the same boys behind the Matrix—sorry, correct that now one boy and one girl—were going to make Speed Racer. And the Mach 5 looked cool. And it was so amazing that the guys behind Neo, one of the coolest heroes, could make such a bad movie. Oh man, so bad. So very very bad.  Spritle and Chim Chim were now so tarnished, heads drooped low in shame.

And now Mr. Peanut. Unlike the other two, I really don’t know why. The Mr. Peanut that I knew was just a classy little legume. He simply tipped his hat and smiled. That’s all. But the new one, and I really love Bill Hader, is, well I don’t think it knows what it is. When I saw Mr. Peanut  I would have given him an English accent—or at least a pompous one. But this sounds like a combination of a white kid from the suburbs who grew up and in his 30s still wanted to sound like an african-american rapper. Oh and that combined with Tony Robbins if the most recent commercial is viewed where the tiny Peanut is on the stage in front of thousands of people extolling the power of the peanut like Eckhart Tolle.

The questions is why? If you want to remake the symbol why not remake him so he sounds like his voice. Give him a tank top and high tops instead of spats and a monocle. If you think the classic image doesn’t work anymore then ditch it? But seriously what are the people that run Planter’s thinking?

The only thing I can think of, and this really is unfortunate, is that over the last thirty years kids developed peanut allergies. When I was in school no one, I mean no one, was allergic to peanuts. But in my career as a professional magician, I would see at least one kid at every birthday party and the number grew as the years went by. With no real explanation as to how this virus or epidemic or freak of nature started.

So this probably flabbergasted the peanut people and they’ve been drunk for the last decade or so. Or just have gone a little kookoo trying to figure it all out. That’s the only reason I can come up with to take the classic, sophisticated Mr. Peanut and make him into a cross between pimpled out Thurston Howell III and Jerry Falwell.

The Power of the Peanut. Whaaaaaat?

 

Nobody Thinks About The Grandparents

Senior men text messaging

For decades adults have bemoaned (that’s right I used bemoaned) the dangers of television and video games in desensitizing our children. But if a recent rash of commercials is any indication of the future, our senior citizens may also be in great peril.

Take for instance the commercial for Disney where the family is gathered to watch the young grandson in the school play. “Papa” is suddenly not in his seat and he destroys the stage set as he rips the branch of the tree off and recites the opening lines of a song from the Lion King. Is this how we want our grandparents to act? What kind of an example are we setting when Disney teaches our senior citizens to ignore conventional and correct audience behavior if they are seized by “Disney Fever?” What’s next, Mama Obama kicking some old school rap at the State of the Union?

In a second commercial for Essurance, a woman is telling her friends how she’s saved time not mailing photos but putting them on her wall, suggesting the Facebook practice yet she has the photos on her actual wall. Now this is some kind of age discrimination, isn’t it? It’s enough when kids think their parents are idiots because they can outrun them on a computer, but are adults suggesting that their parents are totally clueless about the Internet and social media? Even if the writers of said TV commercial did get real life inspiration from senior citizens in their personal life, isn’t this suggesting that all people of a certain age are incapable of understanding how to use Facebook the right way?

Like the Disney commercial will this projected image influence the behavior of the AARP generation? Like news people end up postulating that video games are responsible for teenage gun violence, as the huge population of baby boomers enter retirement age and live longer, are we to be concerned about these portrayals creating a society filled with rude, obnoxious, and idiotic grandmas and grandpas?

I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting my grandpas but my grandmas were sweet, knitting and playing bingo, they weren’t the hippest as far as technology but they weren’t idiots. I’m worried about kids staying over at their grandparents. We were fed a lot of sugar and junk food, but what can this crazed generation misinterpret in other commercials and possibly mess up? My God what if they think texting has to do with writing and they return their children’s children tattooed with the contents of Reader’s Digest covering their little bodies?

We’ve got to stop it.

 

The Power of the Jingle

frito

I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
I am the Frito Bandito.
I like Frito’s Corn Chips,
I love them I do.
I want Frito’s Corn Chips,
I’ll get them from you.

*****
Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
Oh, I am the Frito Bandito.
Give me Frito Corn chips
And I’ll be your friend.
The Frito Bandito
You must not offend.

It is amazing how these jingles get stuck in our head and that’s why the agencies that put them together get paid a lot of money. I would love to say the writer’s get paid a lot of money, but that’s not always the case.

I can’t remember the names of all the girls I’ve kissed, but I remember the commercials for Parkay and Chiffon margarine from thirty years ago.

But if these commercials and jingles can be so memorable are they also responsible for the negative effects they’re had on our lives?*

Is the reason I seek out fatty and unhealthy foods because I crave the feeling of  “Plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is?”

Is it possible that I am carrying around unfair stereotypes because of the Frito Bandito?

Is this country now facing an obesity epidemic because the only thing that can make us happy is deep-fried, fast-prepared, covered in sugar and fat but oh so much fun because the commercials and songs told us they were?

There were no jingles for vegetables. No one sang about broccoli. No one made jokes about kale. The funny stuff, the catchy stuff, it was all about those things that were processed, plastic and prepared. We are slaves, drones, followers, riding on a conveyor belt to the funhouse where our favorite tune is playing like an amusement park ride that’s over in half a second and you’ve paid dearly for. But you’ve been lured and cajoled and led to believe that you’ll be satisfied.

We’ve been hypnotized by its power.

*Of course they’re not responsible, this is a comedy blog.

Naughty or Nice?

tv

 

I don’t have a television but I watch TV programs on my laptop. So I’m curious if the commercials that are being played in between The BIg Bang Theory are just random or are they specifically targeted to me?

See, I’m kind of a sap. I kind of get weepy really easily and therefore am prey to those talented filmmakers and editors that can play my heart strings like a violin virtuoso. I’m also learning more about the Internet and how we’re being targeted because of our behavior on there, our shopping habits, our location, our Facebook likes. But do they also have a way into our emotional psyche?

I don’t click on kitty pictures, I have no cute children to post photos of on Instagram, so how do they know that they’re going to get me with a commercial about kids getting into college? Is corporate America changing, slowly, and showing their good side, or do they think that once I see that commercial I will only shop at their store.

Are they being naughty or nice?

Will I eventually move my account because the bank has a commercial where they support “the little people?” Will I buy a car because I will get to see more beautiful, awe inspiring scenery? Will I switch my body gel because that’s the woman I want?

I don’t know. The optimist in me wants to think that most are trying to show their good side, but the pessimist says it’s all for a buck. But it really doesn’t matter. They don’t win. Cause I don’t have any money!

To live in television…

comic_TV

 

How wonderful would it be to live in the world of television? I don’t mean in the world of programmed television, because that’s full of ridiculous un-reality and silly sexual innuendos. I mean the world of commercials.

In that world you buy the right clothes and you smile bigger than you’ve ever smiled. You break into strides befitting a dancer, which only makes sense because you are soon joined by other dancers on the absolutely spotless street right outside the store to swing your bags and boogie to a song from the 70s.

In the world of commercials children suddenly become polite and say thank you to their mother who has just heated up the contents of soup from a can.

In the world of commercials a little pill can change your marriage, your life and the lighting in your house as everything becomes brighter.

A guy can dream. Of a happy life without the worries of medicinal side effects, credit card debt or the toxins in the intestines. I remember, briefly, as a child, I though the people in the TV were very real. It was a very brief phase because I was a brilliant child, but I long for that innocence. Perhaps I will dream of that tonight. Now where did I put that Ambien?