Cars for Christmas
Rampant Capitalism Eats the World Part Two (Part One was that Gorbechev thing)
I worked on this holiday ad recently. Maybe you've seen it, 'cause not only is it running like lemmings on television (or at least on Bravo and Comedy Central, since those seem to be the only channels I watch now that Cablevision wants me to PAY for IFC and Sundance and I am way too cheap for that), but it's being shown on screens at a theater near you before the previews. And as if that weren't offensive enough, it's a commercial in which a guy gives his wife twin cars as holiday gifts.
Now, granted, the cars in this particular ad are a free sweepstakes prize, so he doesn't actually buy them. But this isn't the first time I've worked on advertising promoting giving automobiles as gifts. In fact, if you haven't noticed, there are a ton of them out there this season, trying to convince folks like you and me to do just that: buy cars for Christmas.
What the HELL???? Aside from the fact that in our world, with its dying-a-little-more-every-day atmosphere, nobody should be encouraged to buy another gas-guzzling, smog-producing vehicle -- What sign foreshadowing the apocalypse will it be this week? Wildfires? Bee die-offs? Trees budding in Central Park in November? -- there's the fact that in our world (yes, this too is our world, your world, my world), where folks are dying from lack of food, shelter, vaccines for diseases that should no longer exist, mosquito netting for Christ's sake, ANYONE should be getting a Hummer, a Volkswagon, a used fucking Subaru, or pretty much ANYTHING as a gift THAT COSTS OVER TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!
Now look, I know. I work for The Man. And specifically for The Man Who Made This Ad. And even though we only recorded sound effects on this one, which they very well might not have even used (even though they were damn good, 'cause we are the best sound people EVER, we even make the useless shit sound good), I am a cog in the machine without which this ad would not exist, and people would not be inspired to spend this kind of money on crap. In fact, in general, as we all know, that is my day job: helping to make crap that's going to be used to get people to spend money on crap they don't need. Oh, and did I mention all of the crap -- money and uneaten food and landfills of plastic water bottles and entire power plants of megawattage -- that's expended making this crap?
Yeah, it's a living. And without me, there would be another very willing cog, quite thrilled to make my $57.50 an hour plus OT to take my place at the pole. In fact, I know him, and he already is, which is why I'm sitting here at home writing this instead of holding the pole over my head for The Man right now.
But still, I am part of The System, some might argue more than most. And even if I use The Money I make off The Man to create something(s) that attempt in some way to buck The System…is any of that any more than, well, hypocritical bullshit?
Nevertheless. That doesn't mean I can't call bullshit. And it certainly doesn't force me to buy the crap. In fact, it makes me think twice, or three or six or twenty-eight times if I'm feeling obsessive, about what I do and do not need to get by in my own little life when I'm not holding the pole.
So in our world, where Gorbechev lends his face to Louis Vuitton, let me lend my pathetic, anonymous, potentially hypocritical voice to this:
Plywood and nails (Habitat for Humanity): $10.
Measles vaccine for 50 kids (Unicef): $27.
A loan to start a tomato-selling business in Tanzania (Finca International): $50.
A llama (Heifer International): $150.
Giving something that matters: priceless.
Oh heck, I don't want to end the year on that churlish note (even if I am a churl -- I'm not sure what that is exactly, but I am one), since we're off on another shoot and then I'm away for the holidays, and this will very likely be my parting shot for 2007. So here's a little phone video from our last shooting trip, to Las Vegas. Yeah, you haven't heard about that one yet, but you will, in 2008. I know, shoes, Vegas, the evils of rampant capitalism, what could be more apropos, and yet contradictory? But for some reason, watching this makes me happy. Hopefully it will do the same for you. Vegas, baby, Vegas.
Oh and, um, happy holidays. Ha ha.