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(ABOVE: That’s me at 4 as the Yoo Hoo Kid in the Catskills)

I’m as Warholian as the next guy: I learned to love the pop art of a good corporate logo, or a good commercial. I dig Gas station signs that light up the night like shiny colorful skyscrapers, and huge billboards that demand our attention with its rotating pictures and text. And although I’m over it, I still make a mental note every time I see a can or a twelve-pack of soda – the glistening benday dots, screen-painting effects, and bright colors make cardboard and aluminum look collectable.

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(Let’s see, do I tune into Lost or Viagra Theatre?)Firebrand is not only sure that we like the “Caveman” commercials better than the “show,” but that we’d actually tune-in especially for commercials. With a website that enables you to click on commercials from the past and present, they now have a nightly cable program (check your local listings) where you can hit up your MTV-style VJ – I guess, it’s CJ – with a request for your favorite band, I mean brand. On the one hand, we’re better off, because we all know that most of the time the commercial - like the trailer, or an SNL skit before it enters the sucky zone – is the best part after all. Like it already cuts to the chase for you, right? But I’m just thinkin’ that they got us so hooked on the brand names that many of us don’t even need the programming anymore, we just need chemical reaction we get to seeing the BRAND. I know that in this post-everything world we live in we’re supposed to be in on the media-manipulation-joke and we’re all pundits now; we know that Joe Camel has a penis and large scrotum for a head, we know which Superbowl commercial “worked” or not, and we were all over video vixen Bobby Brown and that fresh cherry pie that accented her crotch, but I think this is just another way of the companies making US come to THEM.

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It’s not that I don’t see the value in a medium that gives props to the creative people behind these adverts, and it’s not like I don’t love magazines that are 99% ads, but I think there’s something that’s futuristic, Pavlovian, and even scary about it. Bear with me here, because I know these are references that I would try to drop anyway, but there’s something very Videodrome about it, except it’s not our violence threshold increasing but our capacity to not just handle the commercials (like in the movie theatres, for one), but to actually desire them. It’s like they’re giving us the Clockwork Orange treatment or something. Or Rollerball even, yeah; you may recall that the film takes place in the far-off future of 2018, where corporatism is the way of the land, and global companies not only run the state but your favorite sporting team (not MY Yanks!).

The film was ahead of its time, and I think about it every time a place like Tiger Stadium becomes a place like Comerica Park. You may remind me that Wrigley Field was around for an awfully long time but, but could you imagine the Yanks playing in IBM Stadium instead of Yankee Stadium? (Well, maybe if it were called Nathan’s, Sabrett, or Hebrew National Stadium I’d be OK), but Firebrand pushes us one step closer in accepting the commercial in place of the actual product. I understand that companies have stuck their name on the marquee for a long time, just look at an old TV Guide for shows like, Goodyear Television Playhouse, or Schlitz Playhouse, or back in the radio days when the stars incorporated the commercials into their dialogue. I’m not too naïve to understand that the delineation between the content and the commercial (you know, that old question if they put out Star Wars movies to sell tickets or toys?) was obliterated for good, once Spielberg and Lucas got in the game, but Firebrand makes it easier for companies to forgo the trouble of coming up with (store) fronts like “Snoopy” or “E.T,” when we’ll just as likely grow to love characters named “Coke” or “Hewlett Packard.”
(What about those jokes about parents naming their four children, Escalade, Chanel, Louis, and Vuitton?) Better yet, the characters themselves can be the Coke can and Hewlett Packard all-in-one printer!

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This post is very Adbusters-ish, I know, but on a related note, I was noticing how the ABC station ID’s are looking more and more like beverage ads, further erasing the line between the medium and the message. If you look below, you’ll see how in one shot the logo is all schweppervesent and sprite-like, and the other looks like it has a Coke “Wave,” (also notice the “pop up video” info they give you)which I guess is supposed to make me thirsty for Lost.
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I’m just waiting for the day when “Must See TV” is nothing more than the network’s logo, running like an eternal Yule-Log. And then boys and girls, tune in, and when the time is right, your faces will BLOW UP just like in Halloween III !




(on a (Wouldn’t this be a good one of those TRUTH ads like that “Magical Amount” song? I know the Flintstones where prime-time, but that’s crazy. They got us from the womb to the grave, huh?)