Of the variety of dubious pop-culture critiques one can make, none is more curious or counterproductive than commercial criticism. Advertisements are not art, they’re advertisements, those sloppy 60 second spots intended to remind all of us of the qualities of a Red Lobster dinner. Long gone are the halcyon days of Don Draper, when advertising execs spent their spare time writing for the Atlantic Monthly and New Yorker. Criticizing advertising is akin to that early collegiate rationalization that it’s better to give the homeless guy on the street your 5 dollars than to donate it.
Having said that I may have discovered the nadir of our existence – shitty mall jewelry store commercials. This has little to do with college basketball. In fact, short of the fact that over 3 days of tournament watching this past weekend I saw more Zales commercials than I did actual basketball plays, this has nothing to do with college basketball. I don’t write this as some beleaguered boyfriend who, with each inevitable hearing of every kiss begins with Kay, is sucked increasingly into the crass commercialism void that ate away at Charlie Brown. I’m single, and consequently I also don’t write this because I’m so embittered at an existence of stray cat tending and Giada Delaurentis cleavage watching that even the slightest reminder of holiday intimacy can only be exorcised by listening to Elliot Smith. I also realize why shitty mall jewelry stores exist, so that the Radio Shack morning shift manager in Salt Lake City can finally make an honest woman out of the jack-Mormon, single mother bartender at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Trolley Square.
But even for him Zales, Kay and Jared commercials are condescending, so unrelentingly unromantic one wonders if you’d be better off using Two Girls, One Cup to sell bracelets and broaches. In one Jared commercial two envious girlfriends ruminate on their third girlfriend’s courtship. He bought roses? Oooo. He went to Chez Francois? Nice. He went to Jared? Commence orgasm. I’m not sure who these commercials are intended to cater to other than 14 year old boys who turn their bedrooms into fake French Restaurants and force their parents to adopt accents and berets. In fact I’m pretty sure the 14 year old boy could come up with a better name for a fake French Restaurant than Chez Francois.
Perhaps I’m being a tad too critical, but try watching the Kay commercial where a successful wishbone breaking results in some bracelet or earrings or similar bullshit. Look at the overwhelmed expression on both the receiver’s face and the face of her fawning little sister/cousin/wedlocked kid as she’s given the jewelry equivalent of a Cinnabon Gift Certificate. An old ex-girlfriend who moved to New York use to ruminate that, despite her hopes, “Sex and the City” was an accurate depiction of single life in Manhattan the way “Hogan’s Heroes” was an accurate depiction of life in an internment camp. But, she would counter, she was in New York, and that meant there was always the possibility something romantic could happen. Understandable when your alternative is strip mall seduction.
What else we noticed in New York :
- Kosta Koufos, hyperbole be damned, looks at worst like a better Raef LaFrentz. Sounds back-handed, but it’s not. Back-handed is reserved for Joseph Jones, a better Rafael Araujo.
- That being said, with UCLA and Carolina still a little banged up, and Memphis still adjusting to life with Derrick Rose, Texas A&M might be the team most likely to scare the living crap out of the rest of the country right now.
- Washington will be better without Spencer Hawes than they were with him. This would make a difference if they were playing in any conference other than the Pac 10. They’re not, it doesn’t.
- Rugged will be the operative word for the Big 12 this year. Jack Palance rugged.
- Syracuse is either Villanova 2005 or Georgia Tech 2007. We’ll side with the former despite them spending much of the weekend looking like the latter.
What else we noticed in the Old Spice Classic :
- Jay Wright loves guards almost as much as Tom Crean. In their single-minded, “Fitzcarraldo”-like, obsession to prove they can win with a lineup of little people, how did they not even get in on the Lil’ Romeo sweepstakes?
- George Mason has graduated from WTF? status to genuine mid-major contender, with two players who figured prominently in their Tournament run two years ago, bruising forward Will Thomas and the delightfully named Folarin Campbell. Hipster parents who think they’re being terribly artsy with their Dylans and Colettes need to remember that somebody took the time to come up with something as genuinely original as Folarin. On the other hand, Dylan is still a hell of a lot better than Tron (see 11/20 entry).
- We dearly want and expect to see NC State in March. Besides a surprisingly balanced team and a freshman who deserves mention among the nation’s elite, they will undoubtedly feature the best dude waving a towel from the bench during big runs, Trevor Ferguson (see right), who looks like a tatted product of some unholy coupling between Ron Howard and Peppermint Patty.
What else we noticed in the StubHub Legends Classic :
- The one team in the Top 25 surprisingly sexier than Bruce Pearl? Texas
- The one team in the Top 25 surprisingly less sexy than Bruce Pearl? Tennessee.
- Honestly we didn’t see a single ranked team, with the possible exception of Kansas State, that looked worse than Tennessee. Even their 74-72 nail biter over West Virginia was about as aesthetically pleasing as a Jerry Stiller/Anne Meara sex tape.
What else we noticed in the Great Alaska Shootout :
- Nothing. Sorry, but due to scheduling conflicts we saw hardly any of this tournament. From what we did see, Butler will be very, very tough in March if A.J. Graves doesn’t shoot his goddamn arm off. Dude chucks it with all the modesty of a 50 Cent video.