Category Archives: media

Subway says Pepperoni Makes You Gay

The fuck? Watching this commercial makes my brain hurt:

If I understand the scenario, two guys are eating sandwiches at a Subway restaurant. They enthuse about the flavor-enhancing qualities of adding pepperoni to a sandwich. They are then launched into a shared hallucination where they’re being poled along a canal in Venice by a gondolier. Someone (not the gondolier, though by tradition, they sing for tips) sings a song about Pepperoni to the tune of “O Solo Mio.” Their eyes lock, the spell is broken, and they awkwardly make small talk about sports.

The point is that in their fantasy, the sandwiches and the gondola ride awakens homoerotic feelings in them. What I don’t get is how this in any way is supposed to sell sandwiches. It’s like that insane Quizno’s advert where it’s implied that the sandwich chef has burned his dick sticking it in a gay sandwich oven.

What’s especially disturbing about this is it enacts the specious narrative that it’s possible to Catch The Gay. If you’re not vigilant, deviant desires might catch you unawares and turn you into one of those butt-sex-loving nancy boys. The absurdity of this is premise is rivaled only by its durability in the American imagination. Even if it is possible (and every variation of human behavior is possible!), why would two men discovering they desire each other be such a horrible thing? And why are they using it to sell crappy sandwiches?

Up until a few years ago advertisements seemed to follow a recognizable narrative with an obvious subtext. You could deconstruct them, and even if they were dishonest or sexist or whatever, they made some sort of objective sense. They sought to awaken or create a desire in the viewer, that can only be satisfied by the product being advertised. The moral implications of that aside, at least you knew where you stood.

Now it seems like they’ve added a new rhetorical strategy to the field: arguing from the premise of what the fuck? In other words, come up with something implausible, maybe a little risque, that in no way makes any sense. Then you remember the product because you think “what the fuck was that about?” I guess it works, since I bothered to write about it.

So resist. Don’t buy Subway — their sandwiches taste like newspaper anyway. And if you can’t resist or have no choice, do not add pepperoni to your order. Pepperoni adds nothing but nitrites, salt, and saturated fat to the meal.

Of course, this ad fits perfectly with my theory that nothing advertised on television is good for you. The healthiest diet available to an American is the one where if it’s advertised on television, you don’t eat it. When was the last time you saw an advertisement for kale? Or brown rice?* The whole basis of the corporate food business is Added Value: You take foodstuffs, bought as cheaply as possible, adulterate it with salt, sugar, and fat, package it, and advertise it. Then you profit when people sicken themselves by eating it.

*and here’s another constantly reinforced trope of mass media — if it’s good for you it must taste like crap. How many times have you seen a sitcom where the joke is that people get stuck in a ‘healthy’ restaurant and the joke is ‘the food is good for you but it’s disgusting!” Haha very funny. Fact is, if you stop eating bad food and start eating healthy things, your palate changes and the healthy stuff tastes better.

Old Spice — Best Ads on TV?

Harry Allen posted about this, but it’s too good not to share. This ad is the culmination of the barmy series of ads that started with Bruce Campbell singing “Hungry Like A Wolf.” Not only are the ads really funny, they are a mirror maze of masculine signifiers, parodies of masculine signifiers, and affirmations of masculine signifiers. They have a dreamlike quality I don’t see often in advertising, and they look like everyone involved in making the ads is having so much fun it’s hard not to join in.

And I was already a satisfied customer, because most everything else you can get at the supermarket smells like ass to me.

Public Libraries — Trillion Dollar Menace to Media Industry?

Eric Hellman on the threat posed by public libraries

It’s a joke post that stops being funny pretty quick, but it raises a question. If there were no public lending libraries and someone tried to open one, would they be allowed to do so? If it hadn’t been grandfathered in, would lending CDs and books to friends be legal in the current legal climate?

The one powerful argument for buying CDs and books rather than downloads, is that you can still lend them out. You can read out books out loud to an audience, and though the music industry might beg to differ, you can copy CDs for backup purposes. If you buy a book for a Kindle, or a song from iTunes, you don’t ‘own’ anything, and the many of the natural everyday uses to which you might put them to are in fact illegal.

Consider this — sites like Beatport and Boomkat will sell you music whose primary purpose is to be mixed by DJs, but if you make a DJ mix and put it on your blog, you might be doing something ‘illegal.’ I’m not sure if the license they grant you will give you license to play those tracks in front of an audience.

What the fucking fuck?

Daily Iowan Fail Day 2

This is going to come off as petty and self-serving, but what’s a blog anyway if not petty and self serving?

Anyhow, the University of Iowa’s paper of record The Daily Iowan, had a front page story about second hand clothing stores doing well in the recessionary economy.   This is the article every newspaper prints when there’s an economic downturn, so maybe not ‘news’ so much as ‘oft-visited story idea.’

What annoys me is that my wife owns The Second Act, a consignment used clothing store in Iowa City, that has been around for twenty-five years.  Not only been around, but arguably the first store of its kind in Iowa City that wasn’t a dump.  The article lists all the used clothing stores in town except The Second Act.  This notwithstanding the fact that the Second Act has been in several Daily Iowan articles over the years, and is even an advertiser from time to time.

I don’t mean to bag on Chris Clark (who wrote the article) for forgetting The Second Act.  The Second Act is out south of Highway 6 in Iowa City, which for a lot of University Students might as well be somewhere past the rings of Saturn.  I blame the editors, whose job it is to ask questions like “If you’re giving a list of businesses, have you checked to make sure you’re not missing someone?”  That’s a pretty basic rule for small-town newspapers, one that apparently slipped the DI’s mind.

Second Act A41.15.qxd (Page 1)

As promised, I rip on the Daily Iowan

This is what I’ve noticed about the Daily Iowan of late: They seem to require that every article in the Arts and Entertainment Section about a live performance have a quote from someone who works at the venue. For example, in todays DI, in an artcle about Robin Hemley reading at Prairie Lights: “It’s great to have one Iowa City’s own reading his work.” said Paul Ingram “[Robin is] a wonderful guy.”

I noticed this in other articles — whenever they write about someone playing at the Mill, they get a pull quote from Andre Perry. And remarkably, he always has something kind to say about the band in question. Now I know Paul and Andre both, and they’re good guys, and given that they’re being asked to say something in an article that promotes their establishment probably puts them in a mood to accentuate the positive.

The problem is this: Even if it’s heartfelt, in the context of the article it has null semantic content. And it seems to be a requirement, explicitly imposed by the editors, because I’ve yet to see these quotes shed any real light on the subject at hand.

This is like the Press Citizen’s “Get a Reep Quote” edict — when you write a PC article, you’re supposed to find a real person, or “Reep” who says something that supports your editorial slant. It’s a bullshit requirement, requiring some reporters (or so I’ve been told) to ask several people before they find one with something to say that is consonant with the Press Citizen party line.

But back to the Daily Iowan — I see no useful purpose in this practice of getting a puff-quote from the venue. It’s just not News, innit? Now if Andre would says “this band blows, but we sell 10 bottles of Jagermeister when they play,” now THAT would be news.