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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hussalonia Song # 19: Buy Me!

"You may find me tasteless, and cheap, but I'm not free." So begins "Buy Me!"

This is another spoken word recording, and so once again I want to take just a moment to honor the instrumental backing of the song. Intense, blaring, electronic, and attention-grabbing, it is the perfect compliment to the robot seductress's machinations.

"Buy Me!" feels like the essences of the advertising industry and commercialism packed into one solid minute of in-your-face, aggressive fast-talking. What we have here is a product that really sells itself. And how!

I would absolutely LOVE to see this track used in an actual commercial. It is all there, as I said, all the aggressiveness, attempted seductiveness, condescending attitude, and the call for more than necessary.

I've noticed that the older I get, the less patience I have for commercials. I spoke in the previous entry on "The Questioning Machine" about how when I was younger death seemed to bother me more, and I was more frequently depressed because of it, and as I age I feel at least marginally more at peace with it and much less frequently depressed over it. If anything, I've become more troubled by life than death at this point. Perhaps it is this increasing appreciation of life that makes me increasingly bitter about others wasting my time, rather than being able to waste it myself, in private, in a variety of ridiculous ways.

It might not be such an irritating issue if commercials had some real effect. If I was seduced by them successfully, as it is with the best seductions, I might not regret being taken advantage of. Sure, I'd lose a few bucks, but I'd go away from it without regret and a bittersweet little romantic memory.

Yet commercials do nothing. They appear on my TV screen and scream at me about how great I look but how, with their products, I'd look even better. Or sometimes they try and scare me into buying their crap. But none of it works. I'm not seduced. These people don't know how to seduce. They're the sleazy one at the party, the one you can't take seriously, compliments or not, because the tricks they're using are so obvious; they're just pick-up lines invented during the last century that everybody already knows by heart. Nothing is new or interesting or attractive. They're the overly aggressive one with no subtlety; "You. Me. My place." Where's the fun in that? These people haven't the faintest idea how to get things done.

Sure, once in a while there's something that does strike a pleasant note. I will admit to finding Billy Mays rather charming. That whole "ShamWow!" thing was amusing because it was so self-aware of how ridiculous it really was. Commercials done right can be funny; commercials done well can, at least in theory, get you interested in a product that you might actually have real use for. This ideal, however, is more rarely seen in action than a Sasquatch.

I've actually considered creating a blog in which I explore the undertones and implications of commercials. Writing this entry makes me think, once again, that I ought to. If anyone out there reading this has any interest, let me know, and maybe I will do it.

Back to the matter at hand, most commercials are just a waste of time. I don't buy the products I see. I don't have any interest in them. This doesn't change with repeated viewings. So why must I see it again and again while trying to watch a film or television show? It changes nothing. It spites me for not buying the product by refusing to leave, yet if I bought the product it would be encouraged to stay anyway. I want these time-wasters out of my house and out of my life!

There are occasionally commercials I respect. I like the All-State "Are you in good hands?" commercials. The spokesman acts in a way that frames the product in terms of serious caution rather than crazy, hysterical fear. Nothing in it feels exaggerated and the audience is shown respect itself.

However, in recent times I have noticed more often an irritating trend in which commercials blatantly condescend to and insult the viewer. The Twix commercials which advocated "chewing it over with a Twix" made sense and had an easily comprehended internal logic, even if the scenario displayed was unrealistic; your girlfriend asks if the pants make her butt look big, you chew on a Twix and your candy-garbled speech is interpreted by her as a compliment of some sort; essentially the idea is that Twix allows you to become an auditory Rorschach test that allows people to hear what pleases them. It was clever, even if the applications were unlikely.

On the other hand, the similar commercials for Snickers are condescending and make much less sense. The protagonist of the commercial is meant to be a counterpart to the viewer. The Twix man with the girlfriend in the unflattering pants did nothing wrong and was only trying to be polite without being dishonest. One can relate to that without any guilt. The Snickers guy, however, is trying to trick a girl into sleeping with him by appealing to her vain, superficial interest in social activism. Also, the very idea of having someone over to "blog about [their] ideals" is bizarre to me; who blogs together? Maybe I should invite someone over and see how it works out.

Nonetheless, that Snickers commercial irks me every time. Since the guy is the one who makes use of and benefits from the effects of the Snickers, I have to assume he's the one I'm supposed to relate to. So, to the people that created this commercial, I am, or at least their target audience is, a meat-headed horn-dog with no scruples who attempt to bed shallow, superficial, stupid self-absorbed women? Thanks a lot, Snickers, I'm flattered. Also, as the guy's moment of Snickers-eating takes place in an apparent time-warp, I feel that the product's use and benefits are grossly misrepresented. I've had a few Snickers bars over the years and I've never experienced a time warp. Well, actually, I did experience one once, but in that case time sped up rather than slowed down or froze, and I wasn't eating any sort of candy at all.

Just have somebody come out and tell me how delicious Snickers are. Tell me to try it once, and if I don't like it, no harm done, and back it up by assuring me that if I don't like it, I'll never have to see the commercial again. Back that up by finding some way of making it happen!

Commercials aren't content to stay on my television. They infect the Youtube videos that I watch, making me associate whatever products are being advertised with the experience of having two hands cover my screen while I'm trying to watch something and having to divert my attention each time to swatting them away. When will it end? When will people learn? When will people give up this nonsense?

Consumption can be fun. I'm not really against consumerism, just rampant consumerism. Do everything in moderation, folks, or at least most things in moderation. Epicurus, give them a thing or two to think about.

On one of the interviews on the "Live In Allen Hall" album, the Hussalonia Founder mentioned feeling a strong dislike of the world of online musicians trying to advertise themselves, what with all the Myspace and, now, Facebook friend requests. The "Hey! Be my friend! Listen to my music!" scene, was, in his estimation, pathetic, and I must agree. I do have some degree of added sympathy, though, for those promoting their own work; I can't blame anyone for wanting to live that dream of making a living from their own, beloved creative work. Still, at the end of the day, I respect most the one who does what he wants to do for his own sake and for the sake of the work, rather than for some kind of extra gain. That is a big part of what drew me to Hussalonia beginning with my initial enjoyment of "The Public Domain EP." There are other bands I enjoy, who make money, who advertise and promote themselves, and I don't think any less of them for that. Still, in this regard, Hussalonia has a special place in my heart, and so do the few others I find who operate in a similar way. Keep fighting the good fight.

Not to change the subject, but this is on my mind and I thought I'd go ahead and mention it. I recently finished the first half of my novel. Did I mention that already? I think I can have the other half done in about another year; at least that's what I'm going for. I think you'll really like it. It is about these adorable talking animals who live together in this huge…well, I don't want to spoil it, but I'm sure you'd really enjoy it. Once it's done, I'll probably self-publish it. That way it cuts out the middle man and the price can be much more affordable. If you want a copy, or more than one (they'll make great gifts!), let me know, and I'll see if I can get you one on discount. Like I said, self-publishing should really be a good process. Unless you know someone who would be interested in publishing it, in which case, let me know, and we can talk about it! I'm sure it will be a hit! You know, kids love those talking animals, and the characters age with the series, so by the time it ends it's just as much for adults as for kids, so that's a huge potential market for it. You know, Harry Potter was like that, and you know how THAT series did! Did you hear how many publishers rejected it before it was finally published? You don't want to miss that kind of opportunity! Besides, my terms are very reasonable. Anyway, just drop me a message and we'll talk. I understand your time is limited, so is mine. I look forward to hearing from you!

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