Best Of The Web
“How many ads must a man look upon before he can truly see? Let’s start in the heart of Budweiser’s America, where the adorable ears of a Dalmatian flap in the breeze. The dog accompanies a beer delivery—a horse-drawn wagon rolling through waving wheat—that’s set to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The camera pulls back to reveal wind turbines, branded with the Budweiser logo, spinning above the scene. We read that the beer is “now brewed with wind power for a better tomorrow.” We wonder whether, since the brand is so committed to environmentalism, it might conserve further resources by making its beer less watery. We shouldn’t be surprised by Dylan licensing this song—a canonical protest anthem with a melody tracing to the black-American folk tradition—to lift the voice of the world’s largest beer producer. After all, it was only five years ago that he appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Chrysler while “Things Have Changed” played in the background. And yet I wonder how many of his hundred-million-odd viewers will be stirred, by this commercial, to think of another breeze wafting through his songbook—the idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves.
It has been thirty-five years since the “1984” ad for the Apple Macintosh, directed by Ridley Scott, opened a brave new era of Super Bowl advertising. Now the ads are reckoning, badly, with the dystopia our technology has wrought. A thirty-second Pringles spot conveniently captures the theme. The clip, titled “Sad Device,” features two dudes and their digital assistant. The dudes, looking twenty-four years old and seeming like a mature eight, sit in a loft apartment and compose Pringles cocktails by stacking different flavors. They wonder aloud how many combinations there are, in this best of all possible worlds, where flavors include Buffalo Ranch, Screamin’ Dill Pickle, and Butter Caramel. The device intrudes to tell them that there are “three hundred and eighteen thousand,” and, in a Biblical cadence, with despairing sentience, unburdens itself: “Sadly, I’ll never know the joy of tasting any, for I have no hands to stack with, no mouth to taste with, no soul to feel with. I am at the mercy of a cruel and uncaring—” The dudes cut her off with a command to play the disco classic “Funkytown.” The commercial seems to offer solace: our digital underlings may become our robot overlords, but they will transcend us, too, in the depth of their existential suffering.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"During the debate on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal in the United Kingdom’s Parliament on Saturday—which ended, as these things often have, with a vote calling for another delay—Johnson exposed the most basic blindness of Brexit..."
"Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, wants to change his story about Ukraine. On Thursday, at a press briefing, Mulvaney confirmed that when President Donald Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine in July, one reason was that..."
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"Even many Democrats are criticizing Senator Elizabeth Warren for refusing to admit, in plain words, that her Medicare for All plan will require taxes to increase. They’re right to complain. The point could hardly be simpler: All presidential..."
"How do you update Watchmen for 2019? That might sound like a question with an obvious answer: You just do Watchmen. After all, the graphic novel, which has been consistently in print since its 12-volume run ended in 1987, is pretty terrific..."
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