November 7, 2009

Selling Out In Spades

These commercials are cool. They're well done. They're clever. And that they would include Tommy Boy in that company, I thought was very flattering

To be honest, I hadn't planned on discussing this commercial - having seen Tommy Boy once, and not being impressed, it seemed like an issue that could do without my commentary. Especially since, unlike many people I know, I don't consider the Spade/Farley/Sandler/Schneider school of SNL humor funny.

However, when Roger Ebert posted several videos (including two parodies) on his blog, it really got me thinking...what is it about these commercials that bothers me?

Part of it has to be that I'm very old school - I don't like pop songs being used in commercials (much like Neil Young did eons ago). There's something about the way that pop culture is being transformed into commodity - even at the accelerated level that it is now - that really brings a bad taste to my mouth. For many, it's no big deal - for me, it cheapens our culture (even pop culture) a little bit. On at least one level, it's my preference.

However, Direct TV's trend towards using dead celebrities is nothing new. It is tasteless, and that's also what leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Ultimately, though, it's the spirit of the humor that bothers me, especially in light of Farley's death. Much of why I've never liked that particular "class" of SNL was that the humor was one of superiority - it was a tendency towards finding laughs at other people's expense. It was a snarkier-than-thou attitude which for those individuals (especially Spade) paid off beautifully.

By all accounts, Farley was a man who only wanted to make people laugh, and who also dealt with an overwhelming addiction. The fact that he paid for it with his life seems tremendously unfair. Even though his family may have "approved" of the commercial, what does it show?

It shows Spade's character berating a guy who is, well, performing a really stupid premise. "Big man, little coat". And what happens? He tears it. My dislike of Tommy Boy aside, it seems as if Spade is doing this commercial not as an aid for a friend's family...but a desperate attempt to make a grab for the limelight. Even in controversy, Spade seems unwilling to see that for a guy who was Farley's best friend, Spade is treating his best friend disrespectfully.

For those who are Chris Farley fans, I'll say this - I won't disparage Tommy Boy except to say that it's not my kind of movie. However, if you want to remember Chris Farley, you might want to stick with that movie...because this commercial does seem like a slap in the face to Farley and his fans alike.

As for Spade, I hope he enjoys the small payout. Something tells me that I may be seeing him soon, and he'll be asking me if I want fries with my burger.

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