ads without products

nostalgie de la boom… and ads without ads

with 8 comments

My wife and I have introduced a thing where each of us takes one night a week out by ourselves while the other watches the kiddo. (We’re late getting to this – it was suggested long ago – but what the hell were we going to do with our nights out in the old place, so the time is right…) On my night, I headed down to see the Rodchenko exhibit, but the damn place was closing (nice opening hours here, god). So I had to come up with something else to do with myself. Good movies were out – they’re reserved for some barely imaginable time when we can see them together. So I saw Cloverfield instead. I feel an obligation to see such things, which my wife definitely does not share, and so… 

(Parenthetically: $26 to see a fucking movie? Are you out of your minds? I saw the damn thing in the worst and likeliest of all possible places I guess, but back in the states there’s a constitutional right to affordable consumption of crap movies. I think it’s administered by the Dairy Board, whomever it is who gives the free milk and bread to the starving grad student moms… But I digress…)  

So. Not much to say about Cloverfield. Fun I guess. The genre’s looking very, very tired. But in the very fatigue of the form, I do think we’re seeing something new and interesting afoot. Semi-new anyway. The producers and writers of the thing are all at least my age, but the presumed audience, I guess is a lot younger. Young enough, in fact, to have the same relation to the attacks so heavily quoted in this film as my students are starting to have. For a few years there, we were all in it together. Now, it’s getting a bit strained. Shocking when it dawns on you that your youngest students weren’t even teenagers when the shit when down. In a year or two, when we’re dealing with kids that were seven or so in 2001, it’s going to feel even stranger – for them as much as for us, who somehow can’t stop threading it into our conversations. 

In Cloverfield, I think we see early signs of an anxiety not about terror, but about its absence. It is a movie tailor-made for a demographic that has grown up hearing about 9/11 but which has only vague, mostly false, memories of it. A generation who parents worried about shielding from the tv, even when they were far too young to distinguish the threat of annihilation from the threat of, dunno, the scary shit that lives in your closet. 

(Heard Bush mention the other day the “attack that occurred six-and-a-half years ago.” It’s been a long, long time. Wow…)   

The yupster parties in loft spaces (hahaha) on the Lower East Side (hahahaha) are going to feel something missing, are going to long for the crisping threat that something will happen downtown, that there will be a reason to run up to the roof, that their emotionally desolate choice (just for instance) to leave the girl behind to take a VP position in Japan (? – oh, i see, godzilla. Try Dubai…), the iron continuities in play behind that, will come to a sudden and abrupt end when some rough beast inaugurates another round of trauma sex, epiphanies of “what really mattes,” a war or wars to momentarily back and then, later, pretend that you opposed from the start etc etc etc. 

But unfortunately, this dystopian fantasy is positively utopian in its impossibility. The crows won’t come home to roost, not here, not anymore. The world, dearies, has moved on. The Time Warner Building ain’t the double-barreled omphalous of the world anymore – it’s in the wrong country to matter. No one’s going to expend good fissile material on a nation and an economy doing a great job fizzling out on its own. The catastrophes to come for the kids that were meant to see this film are going to be far less picturesque, and certainly won’t be available for videotaping. 

Anyway, wow. At least I’m blogging again, right?

One other thing, on a related note: saw this little number at the end of the extremely long strand of ads (mostly for cars and other new dystopian movies) that ran before Cloverfields:  Brilliant, and very very strange indeed. And strikingly beautiful! An ad for adlessness, if there ever was one. It may become the totemic youtube of this youtube intensive blog!

And even better, way better, is that the damned thing looks like the opening sequence of an absolutely incredible (and a good deal more horrifying, to many in the wider audience, than Cloverfields, which isn’t very horrifying at all) of a very different sort of speculative fiction, one about a specter lurching back from the place where dismissed specters go in order to decapitate the idols of the era, break open the walls of the buildings in the expensive neighborhoods, and leave most bedazzled and exhilarated at the sweep of violence that has rubbled so many things we thought could never go, that we believed, despite ourselves, that the world simply couldn’t live without.  

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 15, 2008 at 1:12 am

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ah, I quite liked that! Please go to the Rodchenko and let us know how it is. I haven’t been out to see any art in quite a while. (I should remedy that)

    In a very different vein, this is my favorite ad about ads:


    February 15, 2008 at 3:57 am

  2. […] creative destruction February 15, 2008, 11:18 am Filed under: ads, repetition compulsion Sisyphus just gave me a little present in the comments below: […]

  3. That YouTube is interesting also insofar as the song-thing is very much in Broadway-show style of febrile anticipation, but not as loud as crud from ‘Wicked’, etc (God, I’ve surveyed all of the tourist shows in the last 12 months, and thankfully I’ve finished; who needs to hear any more ‘stirring’ gratifications from ‘Miss Saigon’, etc.).

    But good post here, and one detail that interests me ties in with readings of DeLillo’s ‘Falling Man’ that I don’t believe you mentioned when you first wrote about it, but had struck my very strongly: That forcing-in of history had seemed slightly strange, in the way that a few years went by and we had the Iraq War demonstrations in Union Square, but more so when he’s talking about the child who used to talk about ‘Bill Lawton’ growing older, the ‘years going by’, a way of saying that the ‘end of history’ means a lot less than it would seem to claim.

    Movies aren’t worth the admission unless you have some real professional reason that includes having to write about them when they’re ‘fresh.’ The cineplexes are loud and disgusting and many things go to DVD immediately or certainly fast enough for me–I never spend a cent on movies anymore. I’m 250th in line at NYPL to get ‘Eastern Promises’, and the turnover is so fast I might even get it before the Oscars (which I don’t watch, they cause even more brain damage than other entertainments. That would be another thing to watch only if one is paid for it.)

    Patrick J. mullins

    February 15, 2008 at 7:19 pm

  4. Thanks, Patrick!

    I agree about the films, their value, though. I feel a mostly imagined professional obligation to see some of them, and then once in awhile they’re worth the ticket, though for sure not all that often.

    And that’s an interesting way to describe Falling Man. I’m teaching it in a week and a half – and will surely have more to say in the next few days.


    February 16, 2008 at 12:25 am

  5. Thank you, too. But I needed to add, because not quite clear, what I meant was ‘strange’ about seeing the way DeLillo ‘forced the sense of history’ was that, no matter where one stands on the terrorist issues–true, false, or in between–something massive made that date seem to almost start a ‘new history’ that wasn’t exactly the same as what came before. So that DeLillo has a way of doing something like what we were talking about at Jodi’s blog, he is involved with mediation and hypermediation, but also knows how to resist it so that one’s ‘old sense of history’ was restored (at least it hit home for me when I read it). I mean ‘the years that followed’ for the child in ‘Falling Man’ aren’t the same as they have been for me, but I now know what those other kinds of years would be, in which 9/11 was ‘just another event’. I think DeLillo does a form of this in ‘Cosmopolis’ as well, and also in ‘Mao II’, were you as impressed as I was at his juxtaposition of the way the squatters of Tompkins Square Park were always concerned about every tiny detail of their living conditions–and at all times–and he then talks about how a wealthy person will only give it thought maybe once a month, or whatever the infrequent moment was. I thought this was brilliant, because although the wealthy persons with the big houses have much more power over their domiciles and can repair and remodel, what-have-you, they don’t actually have to think of their places all the time (and don’t do so when their not in a ‘home improvement period.)

    Also, wonder if that song actually is from a B’way score. It has that very stereotyped sound Andre Previn used to write, and also some of the Disney shows by Alan Mencken come to mind. The clip was somewhat like one you posted maybe 6 months ago, but without the ads (that might be a superficial observation, but that one was, I believe an HSBC strange ad.)

    Patrick J. mullins

    February 16, 2008 at 1:38 am

  6. Patrick —- at the risk of sounding like a fan, it’s from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the 60s one with Gene Wilder singing. The song is “Pure Imagination” and I think it’s the first glimpse the children get of the inside of the magical chocolate factory.

    Just to indicate that whoever posted that clip was probably thinking along the same lines as CR here.


    February 16, 2008 at 4:28 am

  7. Thanks, sisyphus, that’s very interesting, esp. since written for the 1971 original ‘Willy Wonka..’ and now re-used by Burton. Bricusse and Newley wrote a lot of those songs by then, they had gone from their unusual and imaginative ‘Stop the World I Want to Get Off’ and ‘Roar of the Greasepaint’ which had ‘What Kind of Fool am I’ and ‘Who Can I Turn To’,respectively into that period of giant flop screen musicals like ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips’, ‘Scrooge’, etc. That sort of sound–always vaguely indicating ‘Am I Really a Big Stah on Brooooadway?’ unfortunately sounds ridiculous in more recent mutations. But does now make more sense when you know the song is 37 years old, and was normal practice at the time.

    (sorry to be so off-topic, but appreciate the info).

    Patrick J. mullins

    February 16, 2008 at 5:53 pm

  8. Wait–I see that, according to the wiki link I posted, it was not re-used by Burton in the 2005 film. So maybe you know it from the 1971 original.

    Patrick J. mullins

    February 16, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: