Friday, June 19, 2009

The Binge Continues...Advertisement Watch

So here is one of those posts that I started a month ago but never got to finishing. But remember all that junk I wrote about my computer allowing me to attach items to emails/put photos on the blog? Yea, a bunch of bull****, I jinxed myself. I can still transfer photos from my phone/camera to my computer, but can't put them on the web. So once again, thanks to Julia for providing the means by which you all can see what I'm talking about. Also, one of them needed a little bit of time since the subject had just suffered a tragic loss and I found it inappropriate to write something at his expense, even though he will never read this blog - just out of respect. So if it seems a bit late to those of you living in Buenos Aires, remember I intended to write this a month ago, I swear.

Lately I've seen some very interesting advertisements around the city, two of which I found to be worth writing about. The first is an ad campaign pitting Fox's two most successful animated series, Family Guy and The Simpsons. It was not secret in the United States that the two shows had a mild feud going on, with The Simpsons passive-aggressively accusing Family Guy and it's creator, Seth McFarlane (my friend's father actually had McFarlane as a student and this friend even had this cell phone, so I of course left a message on his voicemail and obviously got no response, which doesn't surprise after listening to him on a podcast last month since he sounds like a total douche. But more on my thoughts on Family Guy later...), of ripping of their formula but doing so with little creativity. The Simpsons' Matt Groening was/is not alone in his sharp criticism, with South Park's creative geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone also taking shots at McFarlane and Co. in the press and on their own program (Cartoon Wars I & II), attacking the show's brand of humor, which blog reader Bristol and I (among many, many others) label as the "humor of the absurd". For those of you who don't watch Family Guy, it refers to the fact that many jokes delivered on the show have little or nothing to with the story line and that they tend to group disparate and non-related elements in a truly absurd fashion (i.e. Peter: Yea, that was weird, but not nearly as weird as that time Paul Simon gave me a speeding ticket [cut to scene where Paul Simon approaches Peter's car, singing to him that he was going 50 in a 35 to the tune of '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover']) . That's not to say that I don't laugh at Family Guy from time to time, or that I think people who like it are dense, but I often find myself smirking at how outrageous it is in its attempts to entertain its viewers. It gets kind of tiresome.

Now, it would be counter productive for Fox to play-up this quasi-rivalry (which both sides say has been squashed) since it's not in their best interests to make viewers choose sides in this beef. They want as many peope watching both shows as possible, not Family Guy fans tuning in only after The Simpsons ends, and vise-versa. But here? The Simpsons is one of the more ubiquitous shows and seems to be on at least one channel at any point in the day, while the FX affiliate down here broadcasts Family Guy. So without the same market forces in play, FX came out with an ad campaign smearing The Simpsons and its characters on many a billboard and bus stop across the city. I haven't determined whether or not it's a joke exploiting the rivalry coverage up north or an actual attempt to draw away Simpsons viewers, but true to form, it adopts a posture of absurd comedy. Here are the ads, with translations below them so you can see for yourself:

Best translation I could come up with is "Bart is a tool".

Lisa isn't a virgin anymore.

I only go to Springfield to go to the bathroom (No. 2)

Homer is a Family Gay.

Overall, not very clever, but feel free to disagree with me.

The second part of advertisement watch is a billboard along Avenida del Libertador promoting a boxing match that may or may not have already happened. I don't have a picture of it, but that's OK because even if I did it would be difficult to see the important portion of it: one of the boxer's nicknames. Whether it's a cool nickname (James "Lights Out" Toney, Evander "Real Deal" Holyfield, "Hands of Stone" Roberto Duran, just to name a few) or a popular catch phrase associated with his persona (think Muhammed Ali "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee"), boxers are known for employing some sort of moniker to build or enhance their image. It's no surprise that these boxers both had nicknames, and while I cannot remember both, one of them obviously jumped out at me. The boxer on the left of the billboard, a burly, intimidating figure with no fair and a menacing face, carried the nickname "The Mike Tyson of Abasto". Mike Tyson himself has a number of spectacular nicknames ("Iron" Mike Tyson, "Kid Dynamite", and "The Baddest Man on the Planet), but someone using his actual name as their nickname or calling card seems...problematic. To which Mike Tyson are they referring? The prodigious talent who in 1986 at the age of 20 became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion ever? Or the overwhelming favorite who lost his title to a 42-1 underdog? Or even worse, the man who is a convicted rapist? What about the guy who bit off another boxer's ear, or the one who tattooed his head and face, or the one who screamed he wanted to eat his opponent's children? As a boxer, do you really want to compare yourself to a volatile, mentally unstable, criminal personality his resume post-1990? Why associate yourself with a figure who is remembered more for their negative attributes and antics than their positive ones? It's like calling hearing someone labled as the "Bernie Madoff of investing". Personally, I feel bad for the guy. He got too rich too soon, had bad people chirping in his ears and claiming to have his best interest at heart, did time in prison, obviously has some chemical imbalances, lost an immense fortune and declared for bankruptcy, and just recently (reason for postponing the post) lost his daughter in a freak accident involving a treadmill. I get wanting to liken yourself to Mike Tyson in his prime (take a look at this, for instance) but by now his (near tragic) baggage more than overshadows his previous greatness (look at this) Maybe Argentinians only associate him his former self, the fiercesome boxer whose name struck fear into his opponents' hearts. But those of us who saw the downfall can't help but ridicule his insanity or pity his tragic descent from the top, not marvel at who he was. Surely, you would be hard pressed to find a young boxer wanting to adopt "Mike Tyson" as a nickname, no matter how funny his scene was in The Hangover. And no, I haven't seen it yet.

Which Mike Tyson do you think of?


Reed said...

I, too, was struck by the Family Guy billboards, particularly the one about Brian the talking dog apparently deflowering Lisa. Ñoño is basically a little whiner, but I am told that this is not a term generally used here - more in Mexico and other Latin American countries. So they probably are running these billboards in other places as well. I'm guessing they're just trying to show that the program is a more irreverent version of the Simpsons and hoping that some of that Homero popularity rubs off on them. Now that's a Family Guy joke just waiting to happen!

Josh said...

Throw in the Pope, and I think you have a spot reserved with the manatees.