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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT TO HEAR!)

February 5, 2013

THE GRAND NATIONAL OF US TV ADVERTIZING

The Stanley Cup of American TV commercials is supposed to be the Super Bowel, and not only the half time slots; the whole 3 hour experience, from the pre-game build up to the moments after the final whistle is the yearly prime time for the best of the advertizing industry’s psychological advances in regards to the  sweet and succulent dame of consumer attention.

And the prices for commercial airtime have always been said to be astronomic in what is, also, a sort of a semiotic showcase of what Corporate America sees as the American Consumer ken.

I mean if a commercial is a shrewd and studied strategy to create in the mind of the consumer, in 30 to 60 seconds, certain favorable associations with regards to a consumer product in the form of a beer, liquor, cars, snacks, fast food restaurants, banks or a tax preparation service, it is clear that as an observer-student of this advertizing, you will be able take a good look at exactly how the de facto economic forces in US society see and value the consumer market.

And in the US, just like when it comes to the production of films as consumer products, there is always a clear demographic strategy on the part of designers of theses psychological assaults to reach as many consumer groups as possible.

And when it comes to Super Bowel advertizing, you can bet, because of the intensity of the context, that those groups targeted are in fact those consumers with the most systemic, macro economic value as social consumer forces.

And while advertizing is currently most politically correct in its treatment of racial groups in society, giving a dignified and wholesomely humorous vision of the physical and socially idiosyncratic differences of people, during the Super Bowel, according to what I saw last Sunday, it’ a white world-no doubt about that!

Yes, there were in the pre-kick off slots, several “Ebony” commercials in which not only the actors where black but the world vision alluded to (in the usually intellectually limited way of all commercials) was also crafted of the needs and desires of US Blacks.

And what I mean by this, for example, is the presentation of cosmetic products specifically in regards to the issues that come up for women with darker skin (L’ Oreal) and the commercial use of these circumstances as the starting point and nucleus of a rationally precise and aggressive pictorial persuasion strategy that does not all together exclude, in the end, woman of all skin complexions or pigmentation.

Or the McDonald’s commercial that, on a psychological plane, is perhaps a fantasy version of the Black father figure as intensely rigid and disciplined-but warm-basketball coach who relentlessly drives and urges his sons-players to personal superation by using, in the end, praise and the recognition of excellence, always producing, in that precise moment, a McDonald’s product of one sort or another.

And there was also the subliminal circumstance that only 3 or 4 of all the individual roster photos that-for me-are annoyingly flung into your face at the beginning of all NFL games nowadays, were of (huge) Whites, being all the rest mean and lean and physically powerful Black men-although all these guys (both Black and White), when the say their few lines, come across as pretty simple and primitive, for the most part.

And so it was that after specifically these two commercials (L’Oreal and McDonald’s), the world, for the rest of the night and according to what I saw (I DID NOT SEE THE HALF TIME PRESENTATION OR ANY COMMERCIALS DURING THAT SAME TIME) was White, with white worries and pressures and appallingly materialistic fantasies, as members of White families who buy cars and houses from white banks or financial services and who are visited by white fairies (of the fairy godmother kind) who make all this low-life, material-driven crap come true.

And the Black actors who appear, generally in this world as seen through these commercials, are of the quota type, ‘cause you don’t want to be seen as politically incorrect, ‘cause the white man don’t want to ever feel that he a racist-and advertisers need to be politically correct as a way also of not making the white man feel guilty-which advertisers know he still does!

As he damn well should!

But what was clear for me is the overwhelming evidence that the bulk of the consumer driven economy at its most significant, statistical and macro economic level, is, simply, white.

And these commercials, in this particular context of the Super Bowel, in their frenzy for the kill –in a commercial sense-seemed to have let down their guard as political correctness, and I felt I was back in the times of Shirley Temple or the Marx Brothers when Black people where, above all, smiles, dancing and singing.

And that’s why I went with the title I use for this text: Sam in Casablanca, and the Grand National (some normally understood “all white” sporting event).

And that’s the reason, too, for this:

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