Artistic Integrity

Analyzing which ads amuse me and which ones enrage me is an interesting way to do a little self-examination. Last time I felt a commercial was bad enough to warrant specific mention, it was because I have a big problem with the character portrayal. The company seems to be suggesting that this is either the type of person they believe their typical customer represents, or that it's the type of person we should aspire to be. "Aren't these people silly and fun? Tee-hee!" Bleh.

This next ad that pushes all the wrong buttons fails because of the same type of problem - that of the obnoxious protagonist. Take a look at this popular lady:

The takeaway message for me is less about the supposed features of the offered product, and more that we're being told that this incredibly rude bitch is someone we should want to be like. "The Birth of Venus" cannot hold this woman's attention for more than three seconds, but a picture of her friends eating candy or sporting an afro draw her in like a tractor beam. If you have any reservations that she doesn't know that what she's doing is unacceptable, take a look at the glance she gives her boyfriend before surreptitiously checking her phone. It's a look that plainly says "Can I get away with this? Oh, good. He's enraptured with this retarded painting. I'm in the clear."

The thing is, I actually have no problem with the setting. I'm not some crotchety old man who will shoot a withering glance at someone using a smartphone in a museum. But there are ways they could have integrated this product into this story in ways that weren't so unbelievably annoying. Maybe this woman shares a photo of a painting that particularly speaks to her, and her social network responds with interest. Maybe she follows the museum's page, and learns something new and intriguing about the art she's surrounded by. Anything that would suggest that her experience is being enhanced by having access to Facebook would be fine. But it's the opposite; she's completely disconnected from the experience. She may as well be in a restaurant or a board meeting or on the toilet like the jerk in that last ad.

And again, we're supposed to like her, and to want to be able to do the things she can do. Far from being enchanted, I'm insulted by the idea that ignoring my boyfriend, my immediate surroundings, and some of the most significant cultural work ever created in favor of haircut photos is a character asset, when it's really a flaw. So, some unsolicited advice to the bespectacled gentleman at the beginning of this ad:

Sir, I know I don't know you, and I know that you're fictional, but you can do better. Much better.


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