Saturday, June 17, 2006

Adblogging, Or, What They Think Of Us

Because they often amuse and fascinate me, here is the first in an occasional series on advertisements.

Verizon Music Phone

First, we see various people enjoying their Verizon music phones:

  • An Asian chick with funky clothes shopping at a vintage clothing store starts dancing to a Nelly Furtado tune.
  • A black couple, the male dark-skinned the female-light skinned [or possibly even white or light-skinned hispanic], are together in the park. He wants to know what she's dancing to, so she shares her headphones and they dance together.
  • Three black women sitting in an outdoor cafe, all fairly light-skinned African-Americans. One, seated in the center with the other two facing her, holds her phone up so the others can hear what she's dancing to.
  • A white guy walking down a busy street at night, listening to the same tune on his headphones. He is wearing jeans, an untucked light blue denim shirt, and a tie. He starts to break dance. (He does it well, but break dancing? And jeans with a tie?)
  • An Asian dude, maybe Filipino or Pacific Islander, dances at an elevated train stop; his style is very muscular and tough.
Next we see people preparing their phones for the outside world, preparing to become the people we've just watched. They are the only people shown at home, the rest are out in the world:

  • A dorky looking white guy sitting in his underwear in front of his computer. He's downloading music to his phone.
  • A pretty but unassuming, even docile-looking, white girl copying songs to her phone from her cd player.
Finally we return to the world, this time to what appears to be the "money shot", a brown-skinned girl dancing almost triumphantly, with arms held held high and hips swaying. She could be hispanic, but could also be Greek or Armenian or any of several ethnicities found in that part of the world. She is shot from a low angle and I always imagine that she is supposed to be on top of a car. She also does not appear to have a phone in her possession while she dances. [My mistake -- she's holding the phone in her hand.] They way she dances and looks -- mysterious, with her hair down over her eyes -- makes me think she is the one we're supposed to be attracted to, if male, or want to look like, if female.

So we have the message of the Verizon music phone, one directed primarily toward white kids who wish to escape their whiteness and domesticity. If you buy it, you can be the girl who finds all the cool clothes, the girl with a cute, dark-skinned boyfriend who is also willing to listen to your music, or the girl who gets to be queen bee of all her good-looking friends, literally setting the tone for the pack. Or you can be one of those guys with the cool dancing skills that will make all the girls turn and look, even if you're sort of nerdy deep down. So although you're stuck in your boring white suburb, sitting alone in your room in your underwear, this phone will empower you to fulfill all of your social ambitions. Soon the world will not be able to deny your essential coolness. You'll even get to hang out with that hot Latina/Greek/Armenian chick whose got the guts to dance on cars whenever the urge takes her.


A plump, middle-aged man rushes into his car with a box of popcorn and asks his plump, middle-aged wife what he missed. She tells him he didn't miss much and he proceeds to munch down his popcorn. He is so loud that the begins to grow annoyed, but instead of shushing him she simply asks him, sweetly, to turn the volume up. He picks up a remote control and the movie becomes louder.

And so we see the point of the ad. The couple is not at a drive-in as we were led to suppose, but sitting in the driveway in their mid-sized convetible watching a high-definition television set up in their garage. It's an ad promoting the value of Comcast's HD package. By the end of the ad they're giggling and eating popcorn together.

Mrs. Occidentality thinks it was a lovely touch to have the wife simply ask her husband to turn the volume up. She resisted nagging her husband and found a solution that made them both happy: she got to hear the movie better, and he got to chomp on his popcorn.

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