I have issues with advertising — particularly with commercials on the eye of hell.

I grew up a true vidiot, watching all the time, and I still have it on in the background a lot of the time when I work. Right now, Michael Musto is on Countdown telling me all about Tom Cruise and Sumner Redstone’s wife. Fascinating stuff. I used to sort of work for Redstone. I was sent to his home to show movies in his living room on a couple of occasions. But I digress.

In my youth, my brother Poe and I used to compete with each other to see who was faster at identifying the products in commercials, so we knew our stuff.

I expect I’ll end up writing a series of posts about the problems I have with advertising, but tonight I’d like to talk about car commercials — especially the ones that show off the wonderful things those cars can do.

  • When the cool CEO in his cool Cadillac beats his cool CFO in his cool Cadillac into his reserved parking space by doing a high speed donut in the parking garage…
  • When the dude in his Z (which keeps changing colors on him) tools around at high speed through a deserted city…
  • When a chorus line of Eclipse Spyder convertibles demonstrate their speed-sensitive sound systems by making like a graphic equalizer…

…we’re always given the all-important warning: “Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt.

I can understand the carmakers’ desire to protect themselves and their customers. Of course they don’t recommend that you do anything foolhardy in the car (even though they’ve shown you that it can do it). The thing is, they overdo it on the safety. I remember a Hummer spot a couple of years ago that ended with an H1 or an H2 (like I know the difference) tooling down a perfectly straight, level, empty road without streetlights at dusk, but with the headlights on, at speeds that must have been close to 40 mph (around 65 km/h). And what was there at the bottom of the screen? Do not attempt!

Well, what can you attempt, then? What’s the point of buying the damned thing (yeah, I know, there’s no point in buying the damned thing) if you can’t drive it straight down a straight road? Is it really just for sitting in your driveway so people can walk by and say, “Nice ride, dude”? It’s not a ride if that’s all it’s doing!

Richard Pryor used to do a bit in which he noted that the people in beer commercials weren’t allowed to actually drink the beer. He would ask his kids what beer was for, and they’d reply, “for holding up and looking at.”

Well, have a look at this.

Apparently, such concerns didn’t exist in Japan in the 1980s. Either that, or there’s a “do not attempt” in there somewhere, but I think maybe they just felt that they were safe in assuming that, if this is what you can afford to buy, you’re not going to risk jumping it over fountains or dancing with it in a Metro station.

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