Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Corporate Pranksterism!

I thought about doing something funny on my site for April Fools, but then I didn't because I don't really have time for that nonsense! Instead I thought I'd regurgitate this article from my old blog I posted on 4/1 last year about how big corporations like to play these really limp-wristed April Fools gags on us now.

But then I reread it and thought it was kind of long and boring. It sort of spun out of control at the end into a rant about how stupid "funny commercials" are. I thought I'd post that snippet alone, because man, I really hate funny commercials!

Originally posted: 04-01-08

I fucking HATE funny commercials. I deeply resent the arena of humor being hijacked in this way. It makes me sort of hate the universe of humor itself, somehow. I almost find it distasteful to participate in the same discipline in which thrives such a loud and broad display of clumsy, floundering suck. I guess this phenomenon has its roots in the coronation of the Superbowl as the great custodian of funny commercials. These commercials are popularly alleged to be as much of a draw to the high ratings event as the game itself, and I guess this just got corporations thinking; why not make every day the Superbowl? And they did. Now every day is like a fresh, highly competitive Superbowl of unfunny bullshit.

I could go on about "funny" commercials and why I hate them forever, but who has the energy for that? (Especially after we've all eaten ourselves into a wheelchair from the customary April Fools feast.) Occasionally there are some genuinely funny commercials. I just don't care. All the unfunny "funny" ones ruin the funny "funny" ones completely. I'm tired of waiting for the shoe to drop in the 30-second bullshit vignette on Glade scented candles. I'm tired of "funny" moments being punctuated by awkward pauses of silence (while we all laugh, I guess. And then meditate on Werther's Originals.) I'm tired of people getting hit in the groin with a can of Green Giant corn, or backed over by a Hertz rental car, and hearing them shout "I'm ok!" in the fading moments. I don't want to laugh, and the attempt to inflict this reaction on me is causing me pain. There's a good chance I am watching the show I'm watching for this very purpose, to be made to laugh. The creators of this show are ostensibly good at causing this reaction. You aren't, Holiday Inn.

It's not that I want commercials to be funnier, up to the standards of the few that are funny. It's that I want them all to stop being funny. Do you remember a time when not every commercial was trying to be a damned Farrelly brothers movie? I do. They just said, "look, we sort of have this product..." and played some catchy music. They were benign. Ignorable. Corporations have forgotten their role in the social order. I don't want them to be cool, or to be my friend, or to make me laugh. Corporations should be stodgy, blunt, and humorless, and if it's not to much to fucking ask, mildly nefarious.

Now we can look forward to them latching on to pranks. Oh boy! And as with "funny" commercials, they will seize them as competitive advantages (re: adhere to them unwaiveringly as competitive upkeep). Thus will begin the kind of obnoxious one-upsmanship we see with funny commercials, with companies trying to be ever edgier, ever more surprising in their April's gotchas. Coke isn't going to take it lying down when Pepsi reveals in April, 2012 that 30% of all Pepsi cans the previous year contained moderate to major amounts of fetal tissue floating in the liquid [PSYCHE]. Let us begin a great arms race. Not one of munitions and warhead stockpiles, but of whoopee cushions and chattering teeth.



Anyway, I wonder which big company will play pranks on us this year and bag a few chuckles from the dude sitting behind the desk at CNN during a 30 second spot? Last year it was Google uniting with Virgin and pretending to colonize Mars. Hehehehehe! Nice one guys!

Edit: I just went there immediately after I typed that expecting to find some fun stuff, and sure enough, I knew it was a gag before I even clicked it. Damn, I just got SO PUNKED actively seeking out that joke I knew would be there before I went there!


LavosXII said...

Andrew Hussie, I think I like you more and more every day. I would tell you keep up the good work, but that would be like telling a typhoon to keep wrecking shit.

Anonymous said...

honestly, just link us to your old blog, even though you claim it's a pile of sod.

do eet.

Ed said...

And you know that shitty tendency to do unfunny funny comercials its already spread trough other countries, i cant stop yelling profanities to my mexican tv!

and yeah a link to your old blog would be so nice :)

good luck!

Anonymous said...

Lol, if that is the way you feel about commercials, don't check youtube. DX

Funny (LAME) jokes.

Joel said...

I'm a graphic designer, and I know just how you feel. I find my self horrified by the sheer amount of bullshit I find myself involved with some days.

Chase said...

I don't even understand what CADIE is supposed to be... Google isn't being very funny.

Anonymous said...

Here in Brazil there's this one show which I watch religiously, every Sunday from 8 to 10. It's a comedy show with really funny and talented people. In fact, it's so great and it got so popular that they have a "funny" commercial involving the people who do the show in between almost every sketch.
It's painful to watch.
Whoever writes that crap does it trying to mimic the way the hosts act. This results in them acting like unfunny versions of themselves. Almost ruins the entire thing for me.

Palette 8-Bit said...

Every year, I head down to the local art movie house to watch the world's best (note - not necessarily funny) commercials, usually about a hundred of them. I truly enjoy myself.

But I haven't watched live broadcast television in several years. When I do, I mute commercials. I cannot stand the lifeless puppetry that passes for advertising. It's revolting.

Sarah said...

You realize that commercials have always tried to be funny, right? Maybe just not as aggressively as they do now. Charmin, Alka-Selzter ("That's a spicy meatball!")... It's not a new annoyance.

Andrew Hussie said...

"You realize that commercials have always tried to be funny, right?"

There's a HUGE difference between the funny "where's the beef?" type commercials of the past, and modern funny commercials. Modern ones are all timed and executed like miniature sitcoms, or worse, something trying to be more hip than that. The former type is innocuous. The latter is not!

They're also much more plentiful than in the past. In the 80s, maybe 1 in 10 were trying to be humorous in some way. Now it's more like 9 in 10.

Andrew Hussie said...

"and yeah a link to your old blog would be so nice :)"

I would, but my old blog no longer exists! I'm just copying from the original files saved on my computer.

Anonymous said...

You may be my favorite person, Andrew.

Iocane said...

Andrew, I want you to know that respect you as much as I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Companies are trying to be memorable, and if they can give me a chuckle while peddling their bachelor chow - so much the better for me. Commercials are just as benign as they were in the "where's the beef?" era. You just thought they were funny then.

I'll get off your lawn, old man Hussie.

Andrew Hussie said...

But I didn't think they were funny then. I thought they were less plentiful. And they were.

Anonymous said...


this is the best PS youtube video i think

Iocane said...

True, they were less plentiful. Companies are putting more effort and production value into their commercials. Is that a bad thing? Stations didn't always have advertising - a TV show would be produced and sponsored entirely by company?

Would you prefer the alternative where companies sponsor an entire programming, ala Winston's Cigarettes in the Flintstones?

I prefer the smaller scale these companies are advertising on.

Andrew Hussie said...

I already said what I'd prefer: I want them to stop trying to be so funny! Because they're not.

Is it bad that there is more effort put into humor and production in everything? Yes! When every commercial tries to make you laugh, this is a bad thing.

What happens when someone tells you a very funny joke? You laugh very hard.

What happens when someone tells you 1000 very funny jokes in a row? You laugh hard for the first few, then sort of chuckle your way through the rest.

What happens when someone tells you 1000 mediocre jokes in a row? You'll want to punch them in the face after 20.

What happens when this is done by an entity called Burger King or Axe Body Wash?

Corporations cannot be funny when they try to sell you something. Perhaps they can pull it off in the vacuum of the unexpected. But when they are all trying to do it, ALL THE TIME, it's tedious and desperate and ultimately offensive to the field of humor itself. You can't pretend to be John Stewart and earnestly try to sell me fucking Corn Flakes or Toilet Duck or whatever.

Also I'm not sure what exclusive sponsorship of TV shows has to do with this.

Anonymous said...


Corporations have gone through an evolutionary phase in terms of marketing products to people. First, there was the "You're gonna buy our product and like it!" phase, which was around the time of Henry Ford and all that jazz. Henry Ford himself once said, "The customers can have any color car they want, so long as it's black."

Eventually, there was the "Yeah, here's our product, and here's the most basic information possible about it." This was a very long phase where you'd have commercials with Orville Redenbacher telling you, blandly, that his popcorn was better because it had more kernels.

Then you've got your 80s, which was the beginning of the "Hey! Let's relate to the customer a bit" phase. This quickly gave way to what we have now, which is the "Let's build up a relationship with the customer, that way they'll be more loyal to our product even when provided with a superior alternative." The best way to get on someone's good side? Make em laugh.

I'm sorry for the long-winded marketing history lesson, but that's the way things have evolved. And things ever rarely devolve to a previous state. "Funny" commercials are here to stay.

And yes, I do agree they are all horrible and need to stop, btw.

Jeffo said...

I, for one, would love to read the kind of long and boring version!

HolyDemonAndy said...

First off... I have one question.
You did remember the companies' products that the companies tried to sell you, correct? You know, the ones that tried to make you laugh.

I think the best thing you could do, even though some of this diatribe was mildly amusing - nearly funny - is try to ignore the commercials completely and not buy their product, even if you're in need of something that they sell. 'Cause then you're just instigating it.

Then just get other people to do the same.

Anyways, what I originally came here to do was find a way to tell you how much I appreciate the DS thing on Problem Sleuth. X3 That was pretty cool, Andy. :D And/or Andrew - whichever you prefer. <,<; I prefer Andrew too. :O 'Cause it was the name my parents gave me. ^,^;

Have a good day. :D

By the way, I know it's egotistical to show who this is from, but I just thought you should know 'cause of the thanks I'm giving y' for taking an unintended idea and cross-referencing it, so to speak, with the angels on the head of the pin thing. X3 It was great. :D And the fact that you did an epilogue for it too. <,<; Thanks. :D

By the way, one more thing. When seeing the typewriter in the Epilogue again this time, I couldn't help but thing, "Resident Evil" spoof. X) Lol. I think that could be pretty funny if done right, na? :D

Casey Phoenix White said...

This may be a long shot but I really really messed up.
I recently moved and I accidentally threw away alot of sentimental stuff, one of which was a very special stalemate.
I have been with my Fiance for 4 years now and we recently got engaged, (wedding is next year) and it was through our shared interest in HomeStuck that we met, (at meetups called San Diego Stuck)
He used to make stalemates for fun but stopped when he heard you were making and selling official stalemates so I bought him one on one of our anniversaries. One or two years later we met you at comic con (he met you before but I met you for the first time) and we asked you to sign this white stalemate .

I was hoping if there was anyway I could get another one from you signed in sharpie or signature stitched in or something, I would pay as much as I had to for it, it would mean the world to us, I feel so bad for throwing the wrong bag away :'(